My home has been invaded. Over the years we’ve had a house fire, we’ve had a break-in, we’ve seen storms and financial hardships. There have been scary times for us, but this invader is not like any we’ve ever encountered.
We noticed it emanating from our downstairs bedroom. From Avery’s room.
You could barely notice it at first. If my wife hadn’t pointed it out I wouldn’t have seen it. It came in like a lamb, but it would soon be a lion.
It was so subtle that I convinced myself it was no big deal. Realistically, it wasn’t even affecting me. It seemed to be taking the worst toll on Avery, of course, but my wife as well.
I’ve heard of guys having the same problem in their homes and I decided it was an obvious overreaction.
I’ve never been more wrong.
It started to affect me, too. It started small. I asked Avery if she had a good day at school and instead of her usual response of “It was great!”, I got an “it was fine”. No big deal. I pursued it a little and decided that she was tired and needed a little less phone time before bed. No problem.
A few days later I asked her to straighten up her room. She was having a friend over before soccer practice the next day and this was the only time she would have to clean it. She said she would get it taken care of and I left it at that.
An hour later I went downstairs to her room. She was watching T.V. and her room looked like a bomb went off in it. Her response was that she will “get to it”. It was a very un-Avery response to an Avery situation. We had a discussion about responsibility and listening, but it seemed to go in one ear and out the other, even more than usual.
The there was the smell. Her feet, her room, her clothes all took on a different smell. The more she sealed herself in her room the denser the smell became.
“Of course.” I answered.
Of note, I put “you don’t want to know” in the same camp as “does this smell funny to you?”. These are phrases that are a get out of jail free card that are readily ignored. “Of course,” I answered. I’m an idiot.
“Well, our little Avery is becoming a young woman.” She said.
I’m an idiot, and I think my face must have reflected it. Like if you hand a monkey a cell phone. Curious but dumbfounded.
“It’s puberty, sweetheart.”
Curious became incredulous. The monkey smashed the cell phone. “She’s eleven. That’s impossible!”
In a rush, a flood of hints flashed through my head. I think I’ve washed training bra’s, her friends are getting taller than me, her interest in stuffed animals and Disney programming is almost non-existent.
Puberty. Damnit. This was my little girl. When my second was born Avery and I became best of friends. Mommy was occupied with new baby. We’ve always had a special bond. She is shy like I was growing up. She’s an avid reader. We wrote a book together. My initial response was that she betrayed me. Stupid, I know, but why was my little girl becoming a lady? It’s too soon.
But it’s not. I’m just crossing into unfamiliar territory. Shitty, boy riddled, angst filled, bra wearing, unfamiliar territory.
The lesson here, girls? Or should I say young ladies? Daddy is here for the long haul. I’m proud of you and all you are becoming but that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to get squeamish from time to time. I’m going to miss the little girls that you were but that doesn’t mean I won’t take you to the store for things that make me uncomfortable.