Monday, September 2, 2013


It happened.  The day we've been dreading.  Babygirl turned fourteen yesterday!

Oh, don't misunderstand.  We love birthdays - cake, parties, family gatherings, lunch at a special place.  That's all great.

And of course we LOVE Babygirl!  We want her to have a hundred more birthdays, and we want to be there for every single party!

But FOURTEEN.  {{{{{shudder}}}}

Babygirl is the last in a long long line of girls.  And those girls who have lived with us at age 14 have been killers.   We have survived the Fourteen Uglies more than a couple of times, in a fairly broad number of ways.  And somehow we were always unprepared for their transition to The Dark Side.

Citygirl stopped eating at fourteen.  JuJuBee wrapped herself in fantasy reading and 'disappeared' from reality at fourteen.  Bella settled more firmly into rebellion rule-breaking at fourteen.  Curlygirl decided school was optional and considered starting a family of her own at fourteen.

Kidney transplant recipients have special challenges, as we know.  And fourteen is the commonest age for rejection.  I don't think it's hormonal.  I think it's the nature of the age. 

Fourteen is the time when girls seem to think that the only way to prove they are growing up is to make some disastrous choices and see what happens.  Fourteen is the first of the you're-not-the-boss-of-me years.  The first of the you-can't-make-me years.  Those dark years roll on (and on and on and on....) until the dawn comes in the mind and heart of the girl involved:  "Oh!  You love me no matter what, and I can be successful and independent in some more productive and less dangerous way!"  In my experience this begins happening at sixteen to eighteen, so we've already done about TEN YEARS of the Uglies.  (Trust me, at times we've understood the wisdom of the country song that says, "If I'd killed you when I met you I'd be out by now.")

For a teenager struggling with major, major health issues this can become a battle of control.  The transplant team told us of teens who would pretend to take their medications, removing them from the pill sorter to 'get their parents off their backs' and throwing them away, probably for a sense of mastery over the un-masterable. 

No one really seems to know how much of the rejection-at-fourteen phenomenon is due to compliance as opposed to normal growth and development.  No one knows for sure how to keep the normal Fourteen Uglies from leading to loss of the transplanted kidney and a return to dialysis.

Fortunately for us, Babygirl has thus far not exhibited the Pre-Fourteen Uglies symptoms.  She is almost always kind, polite, and present.  She has no plans that we know of to go over to The Dark Side.   The others had all given us hints, usually starting about age twelve, that Ugly was on its way, but not Babygirl. 

Maybe it has to do with the fact that she is functionally an only child at this point.  Her sisters are still around, and very active in her life, but at home it's just the three of us.  I hope it helps.  I hope we dodge the rejection bullet.  And I REALLY hope we'll dodge the Fourteen Uglies bazooka.

As hubby and I shopped for a birthday card for her, we struggled a little.  Some of the 'funny' cards almost made us cry (front:  This year could be the best, most awesome fun exciting (add more superlatives) year of your life!  inside:  Or it could suck.  I'm not psychic.) or just seemed too young or silly for her life.  And I'm not sure she really 'got' the one we did pick:

"For your birthday here's a badge you've earned the right to wear....  "I've Survived DAMN Near Everything!" 

We're hoping she doesn't feel she has anything left to prove.


1 comment:

  1. I tell all my friends who struggle with their teens that the descend into a tunnel for 4 years and emerge at the end as lovely, decent's the chrysalis stage....