Reluctantly 13

Thirty and Flirty and Thriving is the phrase Jennifer Garner’s 13-year-old version of herself says over and over to break free of her young teen stage in the film 13 Going on 30.

The Razzle-eating teenager desperately wants to move past her awkward phase and into adulthood.

I’ve read it’s kind of a thing for moms to show this flick at their daughters’ 13th slumber parties — with plenty of packages of Razzles, of course.

My youngest just celebrated her 13th birthday. Yep, she’s now a teenager.

There weren’t exactly sparks and pops ushering her from one stage of girlhood to the next. But I have watched the gradual changes leading up to this year.

Let’s not rush into things I suppose there are those kids who just can’t wait to get to the next step. They want to be big. They want more freedom, more recognition of their impending adulthood, clothes that come from the teenager shops.

That's not my daughter. She has reluctantly turned 13.

Beyond boys

She’s carefree. She still sings to herself and spends lots of time flipping on her trampoline. She has pictures of her friends, books and flowers in her room.

In contrast, I’m pretty sure when I was at this stage I had a full-size picture of Kirk Cameron next to my bed, posing with his leather jacket, collar turned up.

I’m also pretty sure I’d give him a peck on the cheek now and then when I came home.

Meanwhile, there are no pictures of boys in my daughter’s room. Even her brother, whom she totally adores, has suffered a slide in ranking: She addresses him as “butt.” (Seriously, this is how she starts all her texts to him.) Yeah, I know, it’s affectionate.

And the glitter is back in her eyes when he sees her frustration. Her once built-in playmate option is in his own world anyway: He’s in and out with his activities or simply in his room with the door closed.

There are exceptions: He still likes to hoist her on his back, and he rarely fails to stop for a wild game of lawn tennis when asked.

It’s in these moments, she forgets he’s a boy — and he’s just back to being her brother who plays with her.


Isn’t that what mothers and daughters do?

These days, I think she’s more focused on being an athlete, partly because there’s no in-between place to go once you’ve left behind the little-girl sequins of Justice.

What’s next is unfortunately a smattering of shops with one-word names that smell strongly of cologne and perfume, play their music loudly and offer myriad stringy tank tops and short cut-off jeans.

I’ve dragged her into a few of these shops in the past year. I walk around and look and she follows with her arms tight at her sides. She steps suspiciously, as if she might get the contagion — and get turned into a playful, beachy teen — just by touching the fabric.

I turn around and get the evil eye and a firm “No” with the shake of her head.

Special teenage looks

These aren’t reserved for Mom trying to get her to go shopping.

Sometimes those intense furrowed-browed frowns just happen.

Instead of getting upset, I admit I chuckle a bit inside. I know it’s hard to grow up. It’s scary.

The world is spinning so fast, making it harder to reconcile her state of in-between.

I also remember how hard it is to talk through all of that.

My chosen remedies

On one of her grumpy days, I might make her lunch for her when she normally does it on her own.

I send her texts with really bad selfies for her to laugh at on the bus. I tuck her in bed and rub her back — just like I used to when my hand was the size of her back.

She won’t be in-between forever. I couldn’t resist when I spotted a package of Razzles in the store the other day.

I think we’ll share them on the couch tonight and cuddle.

Jennifer Wizbowski lives in Excelsior with her husband, and daughter and son, ages 13 and 15. Send comments, questions and story ideas to