Thursday, February 14, 2013

To 12-Year-Old Me, With Love

Awkward image to go with the awkward age.
So I cynically wrote about my loathing of Valentine's Day and I realized that maybe I'm being a bit too harsh. There are a lot of writing prompts making the rounds this week about writing a love letter. I was inspired by Jen at People I Want to Punch in the Throat, who wrote a letter to her teenage self. Since the apex of my awkwardness came a bit before then, I think 12-year-old me deserves a little more love.

Dear Can-A-Soup (or Fruit Head or Watermelon or Can-A-Poop, depending on whatever horrific nickname you were graced with that day),

Hi! How are you? How was Fraulein Miller's German class today? Are you planning a party in Deutsch class? Will you bring your usual Bretzeln?
I'm writing to tell you that things will get better. I know you're super-bummed right now because your mom won't buy you another pair of Guess jeans. And your sister spilled a Pepsi on your favorite Esprit sweatshirt. But fear not, mein Freund. You're super-close to finally discovering what it is that makes you tick. Also, your asymmetrical permed haircut is just about ready to be cut into a short bob which will look a gazillion times better and people will finally ask you who you're trying to look like because you look like nobody famous or even remotely cool.
I know you've had a rough couple of months since your former babysitter/current hairstylist experimenter gave you that poodle perm. Believe me, you'll find yourself at the mercy of many more hairstylists who will tell you what they think your hair should look like. Just go with the flow and one day you'll find the style that is best for you: choppy layers and lots of curl enhancing products.
Your clothes are pretty rockin, though. Those black stirrup pants with your black v-neck sweater and blue turtleneck are awesome and you'll never regret this outfit choice. But don't get too attached to your knee-length lime green Swatch sweater. Soon, your mom will toss it the trash when you're not looking. And you won't be able to dig it out, either, because she timed it to happen on garbage day. But don't day you'll have a puppy that chews up her favorite pair of Clarks so it will all work out.
You're twelve and this is pretty much your worst age. You don't get contact lenses for another year. It's unfortunate that you're still years off from the hipster-spectacle revolution. But your new glasses will arrive just in time for your class trip to Washington know, the trip where someone will call up JB Jackson's room and tell him about your HUGE crush on him. (Don't worry, he knows who you are and he won't freak out and call you a weirdo. There are plenty of those dudes still coming up.)
I know you have some girl friends who are "going with someone" and you feel like you're all alone. Well, sweetie, you're twelve. Where are you gonna go with a boy? The ice skating rink and then the pizza parlor. You're already there with your friends every Friday night and they are WAY more fun than that stupid red-headed boy you've liked since third grade.
So as much as you want to hole up in your bedroom and listen to "Boys Don't Cry" over and over again until the tape breaks, know that you are about to find some really amazing things that you are good at and actually like doing. Also, CDs are about to be more common so no more broken tapes!
This spring, you'll audition for the school play and get a really cool part in it, written just for you. This will spark something in you that won't go away. You'll act in plays all through high school and even major in it during your first semester of college.
Also, you'll discover that all those times your dad made you run laps during soccer practice will pay off when you join the girls' track team and set the middle school record for the 800 meter. You'll run track for the rest of middle school and your freshman year of high school. But then your coach will piss you off and you quit. I wish I could tell you not to, but I know you just won't listen.
I want to tell you that you will not be defined by who you are now and who you will be in high school. Sure, you'll have some amazing times and some super-embarrassing when your car breaks down at Slippery Rock the day you skip school and you have to call your mom for the AAA number. (And it won't be because the car wasn't in park, contrary to what your parents tell your friends over Christmas dinner. You will drive a piece of shit Mustang and it will just shut off all the time. But that car is very instrumental in meeting your future doctor-husband.)
Yes that's right, honey, you will marry a doctor! Granted, he's a PhD doctor but you still get to sign your Christmas cards "Dr. & Mrs." Little do you know right now, but he is lurking just across town and his last name is only one page away from yours in the Greater Pittsburgh Area White Pages. Actually, he's a bit older than you so he's probably at college right now. You'll meet him sooner than you think you'll meet the man you marry. Strange how life works sometimes.
Well, I'm going to wrap this up now because I think I hear your daughter crying for more milk. Yep, nurturing all those Cabbage Patch Kids paid off and you have a real live kid. But just so you know, you can't clean her off like your CPK by holding her by her pigtails and dangling her in the washing machine. That's actually quite frowned upon.
So keep your chin up and know that no matter how sad and low you feel now, things get better. Your hair will come into its own; you'll have friends who appreciate your quirks and awkwardness and you'll like your parents again. Pinky swear.

Hip-Baby Mama
(It's what I call myself now. Sure beats Can-A-Poop, doesn't it?)

P.S. You're soon to go through a phase where you wear overalls a lot. Enjoy it while you can because 20 years later, I'm still waiting for them to make a comeback...


  1. I love love love this post! Ahh 12 year me could have used a few encouraging words about what was around the corner too.
    Carrie from Just Mildly Medicated

    1. I need to read this to my daughter when she turns 12...hopefully she'll speak to me sometimes :)