Broccoli, Chocolate, Tweens and an Evening With John Green

What do you say?

Much is made of the drama and headaches that come with raising tween and teen girls. Much is made because there is much to vent about. We are just in the beginning of it with Elena, and already I can tell we have some stormy days ahead.

But there is also much to be excited about. I don’t know if it’s quite the same with moms and sons, but there is something magical about the relationship that can evolve with moms and daughters.  Our interests, like our shoe sizes, are starting to overlap. What does this mean for me? It means that beyond my girlfriends, I have a new companion to share these interests with. Take the other day, for instance.

Elena and I have both always enjoyed reading. Recently, we’ve enjoyed reading many of the same books. From that shared interest, the Mother-Daughter Book Club was born. Hands down our favorite book that we’ve both read is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. John is a local author, and Elena is a Super Fan. My friend Sacha let me know a couple of weeks ago that John would be participating in the Butler University Writers Harvest. It was the perfect excuse for a mother-daughter date.

The cone of shame.

There were several authors and a poet there, reading their work aloud. Although it’s the kind of thing I enjoy immensely, it’s been years since I’ve been to a reading of any type. Elena had never been to anything like it. We both sat there, entranced by the words. Finally, it was John Green’s turn. Elena practically levitated from her seat, seal-clapping and bouncing with joy. The last time I saw her in that kind of fangirl mode? The One Direction concert. I just love that she holds an author on that kind of pedestal. And I love that we love him together.

Angie & Elena

He read from The Fault in Our Stars and it was awesome. We would’ve been over the moon with just that. He then proceeded to pull out an iPad and read some new, not-yet-published work. Words that he’d created as recently as that morning. Elena leaned her head on my shoulder and we both hoped it would never end – she his words and me this fleeting moment of affection. We were both on cloud nine for the rest of the evening. The next morning, in our tired, foggy 6:30 a.m. haze, she hugged me again.

“Last night was one of the coolest, most amazing things I’ve ever gotten to see,” she said.

I can’t change the fact that there will be rough days ahead. It’s how it’s done, how our kids learn to break away from us and become who they are meant to be. But I can focus on what I gain in this new relationship instead of the little girl I’m losing.

“Without pain, how could we know joy?’ This is an old argument in the field of thinking about suffering and its stupidity and lack of sophistication could be plumbed for centuries but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not, in any way, affect the taste of chocolate.”

John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

The door-slamming, the eye-rolling, the tears, the fights, the exasperation, all of the broccoli we suffer through during the teen years? I wish it didn’t exist, that we could just drive around it.  But it doesn’t affect the heart swells I feel in these kind of moments, sweet and wonderful as chocolate.

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  1. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for this post. As the mother of a soon-to-be 10-year-old girl (as well as two boys), I am both relishing and dreading the changes to come (more of a chocolate and celery thing, personally!). While I keep hoping for a later-blooming adolescence, I’m hedging my bets and forging those connections you mention now, starting with cooking (something neither of us will outgrow) and some crafts we both would like to master. I think it’s important to do the same with my boys, even though I anticipate the relationship woes to be entirely different.

    • Thank you for reading, Elizabeth. Yes, I have a son as well and it will be interesting to see how that relationship changes as he grows older. My daughter has always been Miss Independent, where he is my sidekick. Either way, as much as I’ll miss the little kids they were, I’m also hopeful for the young adults they’ll become.

  2. Thanks for the shout-out!

    I really, really enjoyed going to this event with you and Elena, and I’m glad you got to meet Anna. They are different enough in age to outwardly react differently to John Green’s presence but I know inside they were both squealing. Seeing Elena involuntarily bounce and clap was truly a joy—I can understand how it would be so exciting as a mother to watch that reaction for an *author* as opposed to someone merely handsome or whatever.

    She’s a good kid, that one.


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