I’m worried that something’s wrong with Hannah. She has shown signs of severe abnormality. It’s ridiculous! She reminds me of Jesus. Maybe it’s because I’m praying for her so often.
Last Friday I was explaining to a friend at work that I would be out for a long lunch to celebrate Hannah’s 14th birthday with the family. My coworker laughed at me and said, “Oh no! A teenager! Ahahahahahahahaha.” I hated to have to be honest in response, it was so embarassing, but I had to reply, “No! She’s great. Really.”
“But she’s a teenager! Ahahahahaha.”
“I know . . . it’s so weird . . . She’s soooo much fun. We love being around her . . . she’s great . . . really.” My voice faded and my head hung low as I made the confession.
It’s time to be vulnerable with all of you now, my reading community and faithful friends. It’s true: We have a teenage daughter with whom we love to spend time. She’s funny and sensitive, artistic and beautiful, and worst of all, she has a good attitude. She politely laughs at our jokes and we absolutely crack up at hers. She enjoys having conversations with us and she even agrees to babysit with her siblings without complaining much. It’s pathetic.
We took the whole family out for a pizza lunch at a tiny place in Fort Collins on Friday and had a birthday celebration for Hannah. We gave her a brand new guitar, attempting to foster a rebellious, rock-star attitude. She played for all of us while the pizza cooked and we laughed and took pictures and celebrated the mess we were making.
Hannah’s a rock star in the making. She has all of the right qualities: a love for music and crazy hair. She is insightful and curious. She loves a good story and easily picks up on the subtleties in life; the contradictions and humor, the profound and the paradoxical. I’m worried that she may actually understand the meaning of life but she’s scared to share it because she may be ostracized as some sort of 21st-century prophet. It’s sad.
After church on Sunday, as the family left JB’s in 3 different vehicles, I knew Hannah wanted a road trip, so as Renee and a friend turned left to go home, and Katie headed to her next appointment, Hannah and I, and 7 other kids, turned right for destinations unknown. We even took Ayda, but only by accident, since I didn’t realize until we’d driven a couple of miles that Renee had escaped without her.
Hannah’s like that – a road trip kind of girl. For her last birthday, we took a bus-load of her friends to Boise City, Oklahoma. Hannah wanted to go to Boise, Idaho, but I declined since it was a 12-hour drive each way. So, we drew a 6-hour circle on the road atlas and found Boise City, Oklahoma at the outer edge. Hannah said, “See! It’s a sign from God!” We covered a thousand miles and 23 truck stops in 6 states in 2 days. It was the best road trip ever, and I have the pictures and witnesses to prove it.
A few weeks ago, Hannah called my cell phone from home at 6:30 on a Sunday night, after we had a crazy weekend of non-stop going, and were on our way home to cap it off. She said, “Can we go for a drive?” Knowing this was just a symptom of her abnormal teenage experience, I vehemently declined, “What?! Are you crazy?!” But by the time we arrived home, Renee had acquiesced to the idea, out of a guilty conscience for having afflicted Hannah with such a strange childhood. The whole family loaded up, with another friend, as well, and headed off to Fort Collins to seek adventure. It’s too painful to talk about the fun we had.
So, last Sunday, we ended up in Wiggins with music blaring, and countless children sleeping, after only one road-side potty break. If you don’t know where Wiggins can be found, you’re in luck: you’ll never need to go there. We bought ice cream sandwiches and Fritos at the local grocery, mourned the impassable ice on the tiny skatepark, drove up and down the streets, striking fear in the hearts of the locals, and then headed for home to reconcile Ayda with her mother. Hannah’s wanderlust had once again been satiated by miles of endless nothingness and her favorite music on the stereo.
On Monday, her actual birthday, in a rare, but hopeful, showing of normal teenage behavior, Hannah yelled something mean at her siblings and chased them from the family room after they tried her patience during some critical scene of some critical movie. After Renee and I had debriefed the day, and I heard the wonderful news, I attempted to act like a normal parent to Hannah. I yelled at her and rebuked her for the display and for having a rotten attitude.
It hurts for me to admit it, and I’m sure you’ll be shocked, but do you know how Hannah replied? It’s terrible. She said, “Sorry, Dad. You’re right. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have yelled at them.” Can you feel my pain? I’m a broken man. I had hoped she was coming around to normalcy, and she had to go and blow it again. I felt so bad, I had to apologize for yelling.
Happy Birthday, Hannah, you rock star! We love you!