This is the year, Daddy. This is the year I will turn you inside out and twist your heart into a paper chain that is far too weak to hold me. There will come a moment this year, Daddy, a moment when you’ll ask me for some little bitty simple thing – an agreement to come straight home after school or a promise to finally clean out a closet in my room that is yet overflowing with the flotsam of girlhood – and in that moment I will shock you by staring you down with the purest of womanly disrespect and the darkest of pride, an iron ore sneer of rebellion that will shake you from your furrowed brow to those tired old feet that I will no longer rub for you. You will be the one to look away from our locked eyes, Daddy, and for the first time in our lives you will realize with a dread amounting to the dread of your own mortality that, if I choose to do what I choose to do, there is no way that you can stop me.
To say that I am no longer Daddy’s little girl, is an understatement. In fact, as hard as it may be for you to believe it, I am no longer a girl at all. I have turned (after what will seem like an instant to you, Daddy) into a roiling, independent force of female muscle. So let me explain it to you calmly, Father Dear, in an intelligent voice that befits my newfound power. And in order to begin, let’s start with my body.
If I could, I would blame every whipping edge of my pristine nerve on your stupidity, Daddy. But if you want to know the truth there are potions bubbling inside me that are beyond blame, their effect bordering on the sad irony of a lewd joke told by a group of impotent guys on a fishing trip. Deep in my thyroid, my glands, my nodes and my nodules, flowing secular sprites are laboring with comical abandon in a chemistry lab of estrogenic elements that comprise the boilerplate of my feminine mystery. And if all this sounds poetic, Daddy ... Well, it ain’t. You see, I’m not ready for any of this and right now I’m such a mess that even the family doctor you might want to put in front of me wouldn’t want to touch me with a ten foot scope. These are hormones I’m using to stare you down, Daddy. And though you may have had a hand in making them, you have no way of controlling them. Nobody does. Not even me. With these substances sloshing around my guts and bones I am a preteen chemical weapon that can direct a hypergolic fire of anger, spite and schizophrenic sass at anyone in any place at any time.
Pity the young boys that cross me on the playground this year, Daddy, for they will be left in a quivering heap of hairless jelly. The mass cult march toward younger and younger sexuality may be sharpening my edges, but the blade I use to puree these boys while my army of my girlfriends rifle off text messages at opposing cliques, comes honed straight from the pituitary arsenal where I have been hiding it for centuries. We eat boys whole and alive at this age, Daddy. Towering over this low-riding, skateboarding crop of gangly mutts for the first and only time in our lives, we Amazon princesses giggle with each bite we take from the brim of their ass backwards hats and untucked flannel shirts. We whisper jokes to each other about how their Adam’s Apples loom larger than their own heads and then we leave them behind in a vacuum chamber of their own breaking voices as they attempt to insult us with the sound of words that crack between octaves and ultimately reach us in a weak, squeaky soup of put downs that even our much younger brothers know are as lame as a three-legged pony in a petting zoo. “At least I’ve got something poking out from my body, Patty ...” “If you were any more bowlegged, Chelsea, we could use your legs for goal posts ...” “Why don’t you and your girlfriends go open a farm, Martha, and some of you could be the cows and the rest of you could be the pigs.” Oh my, oh my, you can only imagine how much this hurts us as we girls go off in a power parade of tight tank tops and short skirts to stare at the 20-something guy who flips pizzas over a local lunch counter that all of us fantasize about climbing up onto as we French kiss this grown up pizza hunk on the lips.
Some might tell you not to worry, Daddy. And others might tell you that I will outgrow this. God, there are even a few who will tell you that someday I will turn into a fine young lady. And all that may be true. But right now my advice to you is not to listen to any of them, Father Dear. Because personally I think you should worry. I think you should worry like hell.
To say that I am way ahead of myself at this age is an understatement, Daddy. And everything you think I could be doing, I am capable of doing. You can only hope to hold on long enough and that your arms are strong enough to stave off the rampant desires and orgasmic chaos of my age. Until then, every time you see that group of young teen girls sidling up to those older boys in a parking lot while exhaling the urban myths of birth control along with the smoke from their Marlboro Lites, I’ll be there. Every time, you pull up to a light on a summer day and hear a mother in the minivan next to you screaming at her tween daughter that she is a bitch and that no amount of discipline will save her, just before this mother slaps this girl and then this girl slaps her back, I’ll be there. Every time, you witness a father searching the streets at night with the dome light of his car shining and his face wet with perspiration and a terrified seep of tears as his 14 year old has run away once again, I’ll be there. I’ll be there, Daddy. And I’ll be there. And I’ll be there. Until I come home again to you.
You see, home is where I wanted to be all along, Daddy. But twelve is when I try to burn down your home so that I might someday build my own. And whether I get that chance, Daddy, and whether I can, is largely up to you. Because this fire inside me can either consume us all or - with your deep-set love and care beyond all reason – it can forge me into a woman who will look back on you as the man who led me home again.
So just for fun, Daddy - and as a gift to you before I turn you inside out once again today - flash forward to a time a half a century or more from now. Can you see me, Daddy? Can you see that tired, old woman lying there on a bed, having lived a life past twelve and twenty years, past children and a husband and home of her own, past the jobs and joys and worries of a life well lived, and on into her own days of rest? Can you see her smiling? Well that smile is for the memory of you, Daddy. That smile is you, Daddy, and you alone.
But don’t get cocky just yet, Daddy. Because as of this moment I am still twelve. And as of right here and right now, we still have a very, very long way to go.