Joetopia

One is teenagering, the other is semi-adulting, and all we can do is watch and smile

Joe Tarica
Joe Tarica

Change is afoot in Joetopialand, and it’s not just the rate at which Mr. Big Freshman wears holes in his tennis shoes.

I’ve got some pairs that are older than he is, but this kid only needs nine months before a toe is nearly poking out.

Only the right one, however. The left one had plenty of tread left, which makes me think we need a way to rotate shoes like we do tires.

The kids are three years apart, so this is a special year, with one navigating his first year in high school as the other is on her way out.

The comical discoveries of childhood that were so worthy of storytelling in earlier years don’t come as often these days. They’ve been replaced by the dramatics of teenagering and semi-adulting, which can be amusing to witness in their own right.

Little Miss High School Senior, for example, likes to assert her independence from time to time, usually by declaring how she’s perfectly capable of using the credit card to buy something online on her own, thank you very much.

Yeah, start paying the bill, too, and then we can talk.

Comments like that will result in her throwing $20 bills at me from her hard-earned part-time job/birthday earnings.

She’s had a busy past few months, somehow finding a way to integrate college applications and a new beau into a life that was already pretty well at capacity with Snapchatting, homework, choir, Snapchatting, the school play and Snapchatting.

On the college front, she went four-for-four on her acceptances and is now working on her scholarship apps, while this boyfriend — a budding engineer who builds robots in his free time — is just the right amount of focused on his own aspirations as he is on her.

I’m afraid to replace a light switch without electrocuting myself, and there’s only so many selfie Snaps any one person can receive and process in a day, so color me impressed by his skills.

They make a cute couple, all smart and driven.

Speaking of cute couples, her brother, who has spent the better part of his adolescence habitating one friend zone or another, has at last made some progress of his own on this front, first with a couple of dance dates and now with a special blond-haired friend whose bright smile and happy laugh has captured his fancy.

This has been somewhat infuriating for his sister, who is always quick to point out when he gets any different treatment than she did at his age.

The other day, she pointed out to me with great indignance how they were sitting out playing cards on the play structure in the backyard.

SHE would never have been allowed to do such a thing, the girl huffed.

Point one: I don’t recall her pursuing any such interest at that time anyhow, so it’s something of a false comparison.

Point two: Kids are different. They grow and develop at their own individual rates.

Point three: Doesn’t she know the second child always gets it easier than the first?

She’s making her peace with this reality, but it doesn’t stop her from rolling her eyes at all the Facetiming.

So yes, things are changing, and change totes along with itself these minor, entirely expected dramas. But I wouldn’t hope for anything less.

Very quickly, Little Miss 17-Year-Old will be off to college, and this back-and-forth will fade and switch to something new, like a movie proceeding from one scene to the next.

I can almost count on one hand the number of months we’ll have them both still together under this roof.

Sigh.

New and bigger things are ahead, but that doesn’t make me wish for a pause button on life once in a while.

Joe Tarica: 805-71-7911, @joetarica
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