During our high school years, when people generally hit their coolness peak, Ariel and I did our best to be bad asses. I don't know about Ariel's mom but my parents could see through my lame attempts and tried to help me achieve my maximum coolness potential. Lora, Sweetie, that hair cut makes you look like you're six. Come over here to the sink. We'll make you a blonde. That Should help. Or Hey, don't kids your age, like, leave the house? Isn't there someone you could call to maybe hang out with you? Or Trust me. EVERYONE your age tweezes their eyebrows. You just haven't noticed. Or You're getting fat. You just think you're not because your girlfriends are fatter than you. Or Really, Alyssa? Your sister should probably experiment with drugs or alcohol soon. She's getting kinda old for all of that. She'll probably end up an alcoholic if she doesn't get it out of her system soon. (that one from my parent who WAS an alcoholic) Or Do you want to go to the prom, Lora? No, Dad. Really? You should probably go. You don't want to look back and regret missing out on 'teenage things'. Really, Dad. I don't want to go. Did you go to your prom? Hell no. The prom was for f#@king nerds. And the big one You are learning to drive OR ELSE. We're not driving you around forever. Ariel spent a large portion of his teen time in his room reading old Conan books. Even I knew that wasn't cool.
After I left my parents' homes I never did another cool thing, ever. I remained close with both of them but we came to an unspoken mutual agreement. They had done all they could for me. It was time for them to focus their coolness on my remaining siblings, who were all much cooler than me.
As luck would have it my recessive cool gene connected with Ariel's recessive cool gene and I gave birth to cool kids. At the age of six Enzo asked for both of his ears pierced. I bit my tongue...hard...and nodded yes. At the age of three Clara invented an alter ego named Cynthia. Cynthia wore half shirts and knee high, high heeled, black leather boots.
Enzo is now twelve. He wears his hair long and dresses in an I don't care what you think of me. I like what I like. Get over it. manner, which seems cool to me. Clara is ten and needs to be forcefully reminded of that fact on a daily basis.
But today, on a snowy Friday off from school, Cool Clara experienced a victory, her second of this kind since Christmas. Right after Christmas I went against every single instinct I had and put magenta highlights in my ten year old daughter's silky, virgin hair. The six little stripes weren't so bad. It looked like pieces of Strawberry Shortcake doll hair. Today, Clara pushed the limits of my nerves a little further by asking me to color the ends of her hair turquoise. After an initial flip out clearly defining the word TEN I decided to get over it and let her have her way. She is a good girl. She does her homework. She is sweet to the babies. She spends her free time writing stories, painting pictures, and singing along with the radio, not smoking crack. I convinced myself she would still be as good a girl with mermaid hair as with mousy brown hair and took out some latex gloves and aluminum foil.