16 Year Old Girls

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When Alex was about 4, she would beg to wear her pink nightie-dress every single night. It didn’t matter if it was dirty or torn or missing – if she wasn’t wearing it, she would dissolve into a mess of tears. You see, with it on, she became a princess and there was nothing she loved more than being a princess.

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On a Saturday night, we’d put her hair up in curlers for church the next day, me on the couch, her on my lap watching The Little Mermaid or some other type of Disney marketing, and she’d sing along and I’d keep rolling up swatches of hair and smiling. Because, there isn’t anything much better than hearing your daughter sing Part of Your World with her little German-accent lisp and wavering, slightly off-key voice. And when I was done she’d twirl. Twirl and twirl and twirl, until she was exhausted and dropped into a heap on the floor, legs tucked under and bum in the air.

Her incredible energy burst right before bed was a little alarming sometimes. She’d suddenly start talking and tell me all about the horse she would have when she was big and the dress she’d be wearing and the places they’d go visit and where the magic happened, her words quickly tumbling over each other in their effort to get out as fast as possible before she would be forced to stop, and maybe forget, and fall asleep.

I’d pick her up and hold her, her breathing deep and even, her bottom lip jutting out just a tiny bit, her skin so smooth and warm, my heart would nearly burst and I’d think of how when she was born I loved her so much and didn’t think I could love her any more than I had at that moment. But I did. I did. I loved her more and more all the time and it seemed impossible but it was true. I’d use my finger to push her hair off her forehead and kiss her just one more time and one more time again before putting her in her bed and ‘cover-her-unders’ as she’d say if she were awake.

Last night, as I drove her back to her dad’s to do homework and get ready for bed, she turned on the radio and started singing, badly on purpose, to whatever song happened to be on. She was in a super silly mood, her teen hormones racing though her blood creating a near manic version of herself. Her voice cracking and flat, her silly smile and sparkling eyes barely keeping back the giggles that were just about to break free of the dam and come tumbling out, uncontrollably, all over the car. And she kept looking in my direction while I drove, just under the speed limit to prolong the amount of time we had together, waiting for me to look at her at every available interval, because this performance, it was for me. She’d sing too fast, getting faster and faster until she was an entire verse ahead of what was actually playing, sounding like an off-tune robot and it was funny. I laughed and laughed but inside, my heart grew even larger because just an hour before when we were outside on the lawn and I was taking her photo, I loved her so very, very much and it didn’t seem possible to love her any more than I did at that moment, but I did. Just right then, I did love her even more again.

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Full set of Alex in her blue dress.
Alex at 14 set.

11 Responses

  1. oh THANKS A LOT! I don’t even have kids and your story brought tears to my eyes. Awwww! She is so beautiful – I hope she realizes it!

  2. Leah…she is so beautiful. Absolutely breathtaking. Just looking at the pictures with her smile, brought a smile of my own to my face. Pure happiness. I loved this post because I find that I have the same feelings about my two girls. Every day, even when I think it’ not possible, I love them more. And my heart grows just a bit larger. Thank you for sharing this. I thought perhaps, I was alone but I found myself shaking my head, remembering the curlers, and the nities, and oh my…the dancing and twirling. And the tucking in.

  3. what an awesome post to your daughter. she is beautiful and those TEETH?! i can’t get over myself at how gorgeous those teeth are 🙂

  4. I like how in the background of the first picture you can see one of those European candle windmill thingies that always amaze me. I don’t know what they’re really called, but they’re delightful. Oh, and your daughter’s all right too 😉

  5. can I just say….. AMERICAS NEXT TOP MODEL?
    and its not just the outer skin. I hope she is as happy as she looks because she absolutely radiates. The photography is just lucious too. what are you shooting with these days? and next time your down this way lets go play photographer! I think I can learn some stuff. 🙂

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