816 Opinion

The teen years begin again, at age 10

And so it starts.

An early evening phone call heralded the beginning of the teen years for my youngest child.

Which is a pity, because she doesn’t turn 10 until next month.

But despite her age, the call from one of her classmates had all of the earmarks of a giggling conversation between teen girls.

They were talking about a boy.

A cute boy, it would seem.

The fact that they were engaged in an actual verbal exchange over a land line telephone, I know, is an archaic nod to the past. We have not caved in yet and gotten her a cellphone despite the “all my friends have them” argument.

But it’s only a matter of time before she joins that wonderful world of nonverbal tweeting, texting, Instagramming and other forms of communication that haven’t been invented yet.

Until then though, she’s stuck with the old-fashioned telephone chat which nosy dads can eavesdrop on.

During that recent evening call, I was even close enough to hear her friend’s voice describe seeing the cute neighbor boy without a shirt on.

That brought on a string of shared tee-hee-hees from the girls, and a sinking feeling in my stomach, because, for the love of God, girls that age aren’t supposed to be interested in those sorts of things. Are they?


I guess that kind of wishful or wistful thinking makes me about as old-time as a land line phone.

My daughter has three older sisters, two now in their teens, and I have learned to accept their frequent and often overt (and embarrassing) reactions to the presence of males their age or their conversations about said objects of their desire.

They are, for better or worse, her role models when it comes to relating to the opposite sex.

It’s just hard to accept that my baby is moving past her childhood and into that frightening (to me) and confusing (to her) world of boys.

And it appears that these phone calls will become a nightly ritual.

Last night, my little darling was eager to talk to her friend again about something that seemed very important to her.

Being, if not wise, at least experienced parents, we were able to leverage the promise of the phone privilege to get her to do homework, brush her teeth and get ready for bed without the usual amount of nagging.

I was sitting in bed reading when she made the call. With a smile on her face, she darted into her room and shut the door.

And while I wasn’t trying to, I couldn’t help but hear what she was saying.

Turns out she had some big news to share, big in the fourth-grade universe. anyway.

I didn’t try to glean every word, but the general tenor of the conversation went something like this:

“Guess what...blah blah blah...held hands...blah blah blah...he said he likes you...blah blah blah...tee-hee-hee.”

Man, and she’s not even in middle school yet.

So here I am with three boy-crazy girls, and many years to go until the last of them is no longer a teen.

And many more opportunities for me to channel my inner Gladys Kravitz.

To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or send email to trizzo@kcstar.com.