Sweet sixteen

The youngest turned 16 yesterday. It was both momentous and incredibly low key.

There was supposed to be a family dinner on Monday night, but she wasn’t well enough due to an allergic reaction.

She rallied for breakfast with her dad at a cafe in Hunter’s Hill yesterday, then headed to Burwood to get her Learner’s permit, which she passed with a 100% score. Woo hoo!

Then it was back to my place to lie around recovering from her allergic episode while I tapped away frantically at the dining table.

Last night she headed off to see her favourite band, Spacey Jane. When I told her I’d never heard of Spacey Jane she was horrified.

“But they supported Rat Mattress last year, Mum, they’re huge!”

Never heard of Rat Mattress either.

She didn’t get much in the way of gifts, as I transferred my gym membership to her a few months ago, which is quite the investment. All I got her was a travel hammock for when she buys her second-hand Toyota Prado and travels around Australia. Oh, and some exorbitantly expensive sugar free lollies that she likes.

The youngest has always had a razor sharp focus on what she wants and likes. For example, the eldest loved books when he was little and could spent a whole day listening to you read ‘Where is the Green Sheep’ and ‘Harry Potter’, whereas if you tried to read to the youngest she would pluck the book out of your hands and throw it away.

To this day I’m not entirely sure the youngest has read a whole book and she’s about to sit the HSC next year. Impressive.

Many of my funniest memories of the youngest are when she was a toddler living in New York.

Although, there was nothing funny about getting her there. My ex had flown over early to start a scholarship at Columbia University and I followed a month later with two small children and 10 pieces of luggage. The flight was fairly traumatic and the first thing my ex saw as we exited customs was the youngest screaming hysterically as she ran through the terminal. She was outraged that I didn’t have enough hands to pick her up AND push the trolley.

I may have sobbed quietly in the cab on the way to our new home.

A few months later, I was planning on going out in a pair of moccasins. She sat on them and said I wasn’t allowed to leave the house in such appalling footwear. She was two!

She also had the most adorable mispronunciations. Blueberries were bloobellies. The Statue of Liberty was the Tattoo of Wiberly. And “where are you?” was “air ah oooh?” (which became a favourite family saying for many years).

The youngest memorably screamed the place down when we took her to a restaurant near Times Square called Mars 2112. Diners entered via a simulated rocket ship ride, arriving at a Martian-themed restaurant space. Waiters dressed up as aliens served the customers and it scared the living shite out of the youngest, who yelled “No like da aliens! No like da aliens!” at the top of her voice until they all scuttled away, never to return to our table.

She was also very not keen on meeting Santa Claus when we took her to Macy’s for a photo opportunity. As I noted in a previous blog post, the story went something like this:

Christmas can be confusing when you’re only two years old. Your parents take you to meet this scary guy in a red suit called Santa. You have to queue for ages, while people assure you there’s nothing to be afraid of (a sure sign there will be something to be afraid of) and tell you to ask him for a present.

Your older sibling has lots of requests, like Barbies and toy boats and stuff, so you decide to ask for another dolly, because you really like dollies.

Finally, you are taken into a small room with the scary Santa man, who wants you to sit on his knee.

There is no way you are going to sit on his knee. He is strange, and big and has all this white stuff on his chin.

Your parents try to make you sit beside him instead, so a lady can take a photo.

Mummy and Daddy try to stand on the other side of the room while the photo is taken. There is no way that will be happening. You get a little hysterical at the mere suggestion.

So Mummy and Daddy sit in the photo with you and the scary Santa man.

Eventually, after much coaxing, you tell Santa that you want a dolly.

A camera flashes a few times, you grudgingly agree to give the scary Santa man a high-five, and suddenly you are whisked outside into a dark corridor, where Mummy and Daddy negotiate to buy some very expensive photos of you looking petrified.

There’s just one problem – you don’t have a dolly.

You were told to ask the scary Santa man for a present. You agreed to sit beside him. You asked him for the dolly. Where is the damn dolly?

You ask your parents: “Why me got no dolly?”

They look momentarily startled, then start laughing.

This is no laughing matter. 

You eventually settled for a snowman ornament. But you’d still like a dolly. Apparently you have to wait until something called “Christmas” comes, which sounds like an awfully long time away.

The concept of the youngest turning 16 also seemed an awfully long time away when she was an ickle wickle thing demanding a dolly.

But she’s grown up taller and tougher than me and I can’t wait to see where life takes her.

Song of the day: Ringo Starr “You’re 16” (why didn’t we think this was super creepy in 1973?)

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