Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Cary: Shh! It's her birthday

Just saw Jonah's post about celebrating Krys's birthday and wondered if maybe people might be a bit curious about how it was going on the other side.  It was, as you might expect, kind of a low-key event.  I took her into Portland for a nice meal just like last year, but it got a bit uncomfortable; the distanced tables and relatively quiet room has a way of letting you know you're doing something wrong.  Not that it really bothers Krys - as much as she kind of enjoyed the initial harder lockdown because it meant very little time pretending to be 13, she pushes hard against people who tell her what to do almost by reflex, and sometimes I've got to be the dad and remind her that it's not the world trying to make her feel like a powerless kid.  You can imagine how that goes.

That said, she's in a better place right now than she has been in a while.  You've probably never seen a young girl so happy to find her body changing - she whooped when she had her first period, she's grown fairly tall for her age, not quite the girl who's a head-and-a-half taller than every boy in her class but not far off, and she is already wanting to know when she'll outgrow her first training bra, only half-kidding when she says she's been researching which brands of chicken use the most growth hormones and to please buy that.  I tell her that her genes make it unlikely she'll ever get near what she had before, and she grumbles about stupid white-girl genes and how it's bad enough that she needs insane amounts of sunblock to go to the beach, and I generally avoid pointing out that they are also responsible for her red hair, which she kind of loves:  It's straight, long, curls easy, and makes her the center of attention wherever she goes.  I apparently got off very light in terms of black-woman hair care as Elaine, both by having her around and having it be fairly straight.

Aside from that, though, she's also reached a point in school where she's starting to find herself challenged, a bit.  You don't necessarily get amazed that someone who previously graduated high school finds themselves no longer able to coast when returning to junior high some fifteen years later, because the world moves and changes so fast these days, but it's been interesting to watch Krys grapple with it.  She's not really one for regrets, but she's smart enough to know that a lot of things could have gone differently for her.  I don't really know what her high school years were like at all, but I'm thinking she got the idea that she'd be able to get by on sex appeal early, and never really had someone make a case for other things being just as exciting.  You gather she also notices that even now, there aren't that many people like the real her in the books she's assigned to read, although it's getting better.

We're still trying to find something she really loves, though.  She took piano lessons for long enough to learn to play well enough that she can tap something out, and sometimes you'll see her fingers moving when listening to music (not that she listens to a lot of stuff with keyboards, so far as I can tell), but her teacher stopped giving lessons in the spring because of the virus and Krys hasn't been interested in picking them back up.  She doesn't think she'll wind up doing it for a living, so why should she spend so much time practicing?

You don't really have an easy time finding an answer for that.  She doesn't really want me to be her dad beyond making appearances, so I can't really use myself as an example and say that I became a jack of all trades and master of none, because she seems to think I'm doing pretty well.  You try asking if she'd liked dancing or if she just did it for money (not a comfortable conversation with someone who looks 13), and she starts talking about maybe doing cheerleading, which kind of seems like a path back to trying to count on being pretty.

It's hard to know what to do so much of time time.  With Elaine, the job was just to help her do the things people wouldn't let her do for herself, letting her look like a kid and helping her escape when being an adult in a kid's body made her uncomfortable.  That's all Krys says she wants from me, most of the time, but I also know that she doesn't want to make the same decisions as before, which means starting over as a kid, and kids need parents, and I don't know if I can be that for her someone who may be half my age but is still 28.


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