I’m undecided, but mostly No.
These guys all turned out okay (can you guess who they are?) but thirteen wasn’t MY best year.
Braces. Hair-do’s that are cringe worthy. I got my first pair of glasses then too. Seeing the picture? Ouch. I was also coming into my own socially and academically. Boys were circling. Some of my good girlfriends at age thirteen were a full foot taller than guys at thirteen – get this, even I, such a short stride now, was pretty tall then.
I was athletic and popular which made up for my lack of academic skills – I was always a cheerleader (even as a thirteen year old, my school had what they called Midget Cheerleaders – I bet that term doesn’t stand today!). I played field hockey and tennis and on the weekends played golf. I was a country club rat in those days – my parents dropped me off while they played golf and those of us teens there would play tennis or golf or swim. It was pretty darn good.
I often wonder if I had a do-over, would I do anything (everything) differently? I’d certainly apply myself more to the books, less boys. I might have benefited from being more serious and less giggly. But I was obliviously happy, honestly not thinking much about the future. My parents were typical of their generation – my dad assumed I’d find a good husband in college so I didn’t get a lot of academic direction from them (not their fault really – it’s how it was).
Fast forward to next week when my sister’s older grand-daughter turns thirteen. The whole family is gathering in Wilmington for a party (so my mother can participate) then she’s off for a month out West to hike and camp.
I look at her generation of thirteen year olds and am in awe. Alice (not her real name but it’s easier to continue the conversation with a name, not just using the word her/she) is the youngest in her class at a private school in the city – all the others have already turned 13, but Alice maintains straight A’s in all her classes, athletic, she participated for several years in competition gymnastics, she’s a fiend reader, loving especially learning trivia, she’s a math and science whiz, has learned computer coding, and she’s an accomplished baker (like her dad who is the family champ pie baker). For two years straight Alice won her school’s National Geographic Geography Bee and went to Albany to compete. Plus, she’s fun and funny and such an all-around great kid – grounded, sure of herself, focused but not maniacally driven and just plain happy (especially now that her parents finally finally gave her an iPhone! – she was the last of her friends to get one).
Obviously great parenting there as well as nature taking its course but it’s astounding that in two generations, we can go from what was normal for me in the 1960s to be just okay at academics to Alice being part of the super-kid generation. Being focused wasn’t even in my vocabulary! Maybe it’s a girl thing and you guys will say you were most definitely focused, even driven, by your own sense of desire to achieve, or by the demands of your parents). I was not. I have many friends in the city whose children were given no choice but to excel – there was no page for failure or mediocrity. We did not hold our own children up to those standards and they all turned out fine – some more intrinsically driven than others – but overall, happy and feeling life is good.
I’m trying to decide what on earth to give Alice for her 13th. Time’s a fleeting and I’ve come up with nothing – no real good ideas. I’m leaning to some specialty baking items at Sur la Table since she relaxes after a long day at school by baking. I’ll keep you posted.
How many of you would take a do-over? As much as I think I could do better second time around, I’ll stay pat at 68, complain a bit, but be happy with what I have.
Happy Hump Day!