I’m a little sentimental. Not overly sentimental, though– I did not cry when any of my children started school. End of the year activities do not make me sad, if anything, I know I am that much closer to having my children learn to take care of themselves, to having my children become independent thinkers, and to having my children blossom into the people they will be.
However, certain events do make me sentimental. This week, my oldest daughter turns thirteen. Besides for the fact that I do not feel old enough, responsible enough, or mature enough to have three daughters, I am boggled by the idea that I will have a teenager. How is that possible? When did she, and subsequently I, get so old?
I think of thirteen as one of the milestone birthdays. You are officially a teenager. No longer can someone look at you as if you are just some dumb, little kid. You are old enough to babysit. You are old enough to walk your sisters to the ice cream shop up the street. You are old enough to responsibly have a cell phone. Yes, thirteen is an age of reckoning, and I think it is important to celebrate it in some special way.
When I turned thirteen, my parents got me a very special gift. For whatever reason, I thought pearls were the absolute most beautiful gem. Every time I saw a movie star in pearls or a stranger in the mall, I must have mentioned it to my mother. She took notice, and to my surprise, I received a pearl necklace for my thirteenth birthday. I was speechless. I knew how expensive pearls could be, and I could not believe my parents loved me so much that they would indulge my fantasy. In addition, my brother, who was already in college and probably dirt poor, bought me Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Culture Club’s Colour by Numbers on cassette tape. These albums were at the height of pop culture in January of 1983, and my brother was very aware of my love for music.
This birthday is one of my favorite memories because I felt like the ones I loved wanted me to feel like a princess. I am sure in some way these memories influence why I think it is essential to buy Carson something meaningful, something that will make her feel special, too.
I decided to buy her a Pandora bracelet. If you do not know what it is, it is a charm bracelet. You purchase the bracelet, and then each bead is bought separately. Pandora offers a wide array of decorative beads as well as beads for many occasions. I like the idea that she can work on adding on to it for years to come.
Anyway, my original idea was to get her birthstone bead and a number thirteen. However, the Pandora store was out of her birthstone bead and they do not even have a 13. Corporate Pandora sees 16 as an age of reckoning, but they do not share my same feelings that 13 is important. I was forced to peruse the book for ideas.
Oh, ballet slippers! Yes, that would make sense– she has only been dancing since she was four. Nope. They did not have that bead in stock either. Feeling slightly frustrated, I did find an emerald-green colored bead that had hearts surrounding it. This bead seemed even more fitting than her birthstone because she has been a big part of my heart for what is going on thirteen years.
I knew I wanted her to have two beads, however. I had to continue my search. Page by page I looked through their catalogue while Tom patiently waited for my triumphant find. I turned the page…. and there it was! An elephant with the trunk curling up! The hairs on my neck raised and literally, a tear entered my eye. Carson is the only one of my children who remembers my parents, and she had a very strong connection with my mother. She remembers how important elephants were to my mom, and she has developed a strong liking for elephants herself; a way, I assume, for her grandmother to stay alive in her heart.
“Do you have this elephant bead?” I asked the kind sales girl who I could tell felt terrible that each bead I asked for was out of stock.
“Let me check,” she said. She pulled out a box of beads and looked. “Yes, here it is! We do have it.” She placed the bead on the counter, and I looked at it. The hairs on my arms raised and I knew this bead would be special to her.
“I’ll take it.”
Close to $150.00 later, I walked out of the store feeling so giddy that it took everything in my power not to race home and give her the present immediately. I was so excited, but no; her birthday is not until Thursday. I could wait, I told myself.
Saturday morning I awoke, and luckily, I had a busy day. I did not think much about the bracelet, well, until about 8:00.
Yep, I could not wait. She got her gift yesterday. She first opened the bracelet that had the heart bead on it.
“I love it,” she said. She immediately took it out of the box and tried to figure out how to clasp it on. I had the second box hidden behind my back.
“I am glad you like it, but before you put it on, maybe you should open this box, too.” I pulled out the smaller box and she giggled. She tore open the wrapping paper, and quickly opened the lid. When she pulled out the little pillow, she sighed. I could see water well in her eyes. She was sitting in a kitchen chair. “Oh mom,” she said standing and throwing her arms around me. “It’s perfect,” she whispered. “Grandma.”
That’s all she needed to say.