Ah, Thirteen!

Finally, a teenager. What was different? Very little.

I still looked immature. No makeup, no pierced ears. None of that.

One vivid, intimate detail stands out. The summer I was thirteen, my mother finally bought me a bra, a strapless one to wear under sundresses. I didn’t even need it, really, but I was so distressed over nothing happening on that front that she gave in. The worst part was that she made me model it for my dad. I think she saw it as their celebrating a rite of passage with me. I was mortified, and I think he was, too. I believe it was the beginning of a distance between my dad and me.


I love this photograph. Look at what happens to our shadows.

It’s interesting to think about what happens in the dynamic between father and daughter. My dad and I had always been close, but I felt him pulling away. Certainly no more sitting on daddy’s lap at this late stage. There were hugs, good ones, and kisses on the cheek. But he seemed keenly aware of the fact that I was becoming a young woman.

What he and my mother didn’t know was that my best friend and I spent many hours on Saturday mornings watching out her window for the older boy who lived next door. My friend’s upstairs bedroom overlooked his yard. I spent every other Friday night at her house, and we’d be up early, hiding behind her curtains, watching and waiting for him to come out. He was golden: tan, blond hair, blue eyes, a dazzling smile. A high school boy! Usually, he cut the yard on Saturday mornings. We lived for warm days when he would mow without his shirt. We’d be in spasms of giggles, daring to peek out from behind the curtain, living on the edge of being discovered, in many more ways than one.

Did you mature early or late? How did that timing affect relationships with your parents? Your friends?

“Ah, Thirteen!” continues the memoir series prompted by Jane Ann McLachlan’s October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge. To access previous posts, see Recent Posts in the right column.

6 thoughts on “Ah, Thirteen!

    • I was such an introvert, and yet I had a kind of “public” persona, even as a child. I was still a child at this stage, in spite of the budding interest in boys, but “back in the day,” kids didn’t grow up as fast as they do now. It was, at least for me, a much gentler time.


  1. Gerry, I have read all of your October Memoirs, and each one has reminded me so much of my own childhood, especially my dad’s distancing himself as I began to mature. We understand the reason now, but back then I began to wonder if he still loved me. He did–very much.


    • Deborah, I appreciate your coming along with me as I explore memories! So many common threads of memory have surfaced here. I hope I can finish the challenge, and I hope you’ll stick around and let me know when we share something special. Thanks so much for commenting.


  2. I was – well, not a LATE bloomer, but not early – I was 13 when things started happening 🙂 My niece was 9!! I can’t even imagine that!
    Love the picture of you and your Dad and the mingled shadows 🙂 tha’s great!


    • I actually think LATE is better than EARLY. Seems like that would present a problem if it happens too soon. I love that photo, too, thanks. The memoir challenge has sent me back to boxes of old photos, and I’ve loved going through them. Now if I could just figure out how to organize!


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