When my daughter left the house this morning in her school uniform, she was carrying far too many things: a backpack, a hoodie, her lunch box, a 20-ounce water bottle dangling from the handle, a book, and a magazine. It wasn’t just any book, either; it was a heavy one, the sixth Harry Potter, which she reads voraciously. I looked at her, stuff in each hand, on her back, slung over her shoulder, and hanging off her head and thought how uncomfortable and bogged down she seemed. I wore a fanny pack exclusively for about twenty years (until I was robbed of it at gunpoint—another story) because I loathe carrying things. I wanted to relieve her of some less-necessary stuff, but it was all imperative.
The magazine leaving the house with her was the latest Musician’s Friend catalog, which we’d all given the slow once-over. Serena has read it again and again, always with vigor. On the first pass, she said, “Guess which guitar I want.” She’s been angling for an SG—Gibson, not Epiphone, because she’s a brand snob—but since we saw It Might Get Loud, she has eyes only for the double-neck. So I guessed right.
This morning, with all the stuff she carried, why did she add the burden of the catalog? “Because I like looking at guitars. I like dreaming about guitars,” she said, with the kind of fluttery-eyed ecstasy she used to reserve only for my cooking.
I think I’ve lost my daughter to rock and roll.
I am grateful that it’s only rock and roll (and I like it too). And though I know that in the not-distant-enough future, she could easily be making that face over a boy, I can see her on a Gretsch poster, hair and eyebrows ala Brooke Shields, with the caption: Nothing comes between me and my Hollow-body Electromatic.
Well, a mom can dream.
Serena’s first complete sentence, besides “Mommy, diaper, have it?” which she asked at the pediatrician’s office when he didn’t believe my fourteen-month-old child knew over 100 words (“OK, never mind, I believe you,” he said after the diaper sentence), was this: “Hi, boy, kiss you?” The first time she used it was in the Safeway, and she promptly chased the boy out of line, arms outstretched more like a zombie kissing machine than an awkward toddler.
My girl spent the rest of her first decade finding a way to hang with the boys. For the first five years, that meant eschewing Barbie dolls for Legos and trucks and creepy pirate-y toys with a billion pieces. For the next five, it meant never wearing a dress or her hair down. We had to shop in the boys’ department, or she wouldn’t wear it—even t-shirts with skulls.
But I feel the strong, strong wind of change. The other day, Serena got in the car and couldn’t wait to tell me that her math teacher had played them a Heart song—“Dog and Butterfly”—a song we both used to play and sing. Heart is Serena’s current favorite band—and not just because she likes the music but because a girl plays the acoustic intro to “Crazy on You,” and it’s hard. One of her best friends for nine years said, “Ew, what is that awful music?” She shot him the look of are-you-crazy-or-just-lame? and said, “It’s Heart!” at which time he rested his case. She just shook her head. “He doesn’t know anything,” she told me.
Music has always been a litmus test for couples, so it’s probably not uncommon, even for a ‘tween girl, to start clicking her tongue and rolling her eyes over some boy’s (or parent’s) unsophisticated, undereducated tastes. And I’m glad she’s made this her priority rather than, say, soccer, which she declared three years ago was her “life.” And rather than using her guitar to play the boys, she is more concerned with outplaying them.
I think that what surprised me was the look in her eyes. It’s going to be hard for my lasagna and stuffed peppers to share that look of rapture with pictures of fancy guitars, even when they look as hot as the new rainbow SG Zoot. Oh, baby!