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Today's Family Magazine

Love in disguise

By Stacy Turner

When I picked my teen up from basketball practice one evening, I asked her about a winter sports assembly being held at her school the following week.  I told her I’d plan to make it, and she promptly told me there was no need.  She assured me that the event was only for students and that I didn’t need to go, which I thought was interesting, since her principal let us know about it well in advance of the event.  My daughter explained that the season’s athletes would be recognized in front of the school.  Afterwards, they would challenge a group of teachers to a game of basketball. I told her if I came, she didn’t need to worry about it because she probably wouldn’t even see me there.  She assured me she would see me, because even if she missed me, all her friends would tell her where I was.  “I’ll wear a mustache,” I countered.

The conversation headed into the realm of the ridiculous, as she argued that a mustache wouldn’t be an effective disguise.  Apparently, putting my hair under a hat would only make me look bald.  And wearing baggy clothes to hide my gender would only make me stand out more, since I’d be freakishly lumpy at the top and small at the bottom.  At least she told me I have a tiny waist; as a mom of two teens, I’ve got to take compliments where I can get them. I curled my pretend mustache as I contemplated her responses.  “I’d better practice my manly voice for when they call your name,” I teased.  “Let’s hear it,” she countered. “Woooo!” I bellowed, in my deepest fake baritone.  The car erupted in laughter, as we both pictured the odd scene unfolding in her middle school gymnasium.

While it felt good to make light of it, it made me a little sad that she doesn’t want me there.  Don’t get me wrong -- I appreciate the fact that my daughter is capable of venturing out on her own, and I’m glad she’s confident enough to stand on her own.  Even though this is a natural progression, sometimes, it’s hard to admit that she doesn’t need me as much as she used to. It’s bittersweet that as each year progresses, my daughter gets more and more practice at spreading her wings in preparation to leave the nest.  This is what her dad and I have been working toward, and it’s been happening to parents and kids since families first began.  That still doesn’t make it easier.  Navigating through the teen years can be hard on kids, but it’s no picnic for parents either.

Later, I realized that both my husband and I have meetings scheduled during the same time as the infamous sports assembly. We considered rescheduling, but in chatting with other parents, learned that the majority of them were also unable to attend.  So it looks like the kids (or at least mine) will get their wish to have special time to celebrate their season with teammates, classmates, and teachers.  And I’m happy she’ll have that fond memory to celebrate her hard work this season, even if I won’t be there to join the celebration.

As a side note, I made sure to tell my daughter that if she sees a lumpy, odd-looking mustached man in a hat hanging around school that day to steer clear, since it wouldn’t be me.

Photo for illustration purposes.

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