Stylized line drawing of mark playing the flute

Viking Girl is growing up

My oldest is about to turn 13.

Somehow, this:

has turned into this:

I don’t understand how it happened. She’s big now, though not as big as she thinks she is.

She has gone by many names.

When she was still on the inside, she was The Bug (or just Bug). Jane had an early ultrasound to see how far along the pregnancy was and it was a grayscale picture of this little lima bean-looking thing.

We’ve used various shortenings of her name. She introduces herself to people by her full name but has no objections to our nicknames.

One of our favorite women in world is a swimmer at JCC and Lakeside. She is a force of nature and she and Jane adore each other. Early on, she bestowed upon Jane the title of Strong Nordic Woman.

I’ve settled on Viking Girl when I write about my daughter. It seems fitting since she’s the offspring of a Strong Nordic Woman.

She is tall and strong. I can barely hold her when we wrestle and I’ve come away from more than one bout of rough-housing with a split lip. She can lift both of her brothers at the same time.

The kids used to like to punch me in the stomach. I would always clench my abs at the last second so the punches wouldn’t hurt.

I can’t let her punch me anymore.

She is impervious to cold. The girl will walk to school in 15 Β° weather with bare legs. She is so smart and creative. Her writing is dark and hilarious. She, like her mom, is good at math and logic but thinks she isn’t. She has a fantastic sense of humor and I love the way her face lights up when she laughs.

She used to want to be a mom and a teacher. Now she wants to be a writer or movie director.

She’s loud and bossy and she’s not afraid to take up space. To make her presence known. This can be obnoxious but I never chastise her for it. These are essential skills and I pray she never loses them.

Her biggest flaw is that she very very 13. So so so OMG-13.

Our house is a constant parade of sighing, eye rolling, yelling and door-slamming. Jane and I are no longer reliable sources of information. We exist only to torment her with bizarre demands.

I can’t complain too much. Though we might be personae non gratae, she still plays with her brothers. One of our main goals was for the three of them to be close, no matter what and we seem to be succeeding.

But sometimes it’s like a different person is living in our house and I miss the old one. I see glimmers of her in there. She still lets me tuck her in at night.

We play silly games where I pretend to fall asleep and snore loudly into her ears. Or the See You Tomorrow.

β€œGood night. See you tomorrow.”

β€œNo, I’ll see YOU tomorrow.”

β€œNO, I’ll see YOU tomorrow.”

And so on.

I know she’ll be back one day and I can’t wait to see what kind of person she ends up being.

I will wait.