When I was 14 I wanted to run away with a devout Rastafarian named Jah-Leel. He dressed in white only, wore dreads to his waist and had sparkly black eyes shaped like half diamonds. We talked one afternoon into the evening at an outdoor concert and we made an emotional connection, and nothing more. The running off part was all a fabrication in my own young mind that I clung to for about a year. I would convert! And crochet tams to sell at festivals. I'd never cut my hair and wear longs skirts and cook simple, earthly food; maybe draw water from a river with a gourd . . . I never saw him again though.
Maya turned 14 yesterday and she's just now becoming interested in boys. I don't think she wants to run off, though it's not lost on me that most of my Jah-Leel wishings were just escapist fantasy that didn't have a lot to do with him.
My point is that 14 is super ripe, ain't it? The land of independent absorption and budding resilience; the beginnings of true maturity. And Maya makes for a spectacular 14 year old.
Her party was Sunday and as much as we planned to play and have fun, I was still a little worried that the party would morph into a group of girls sitting around and talking/whining/gossiping. It did not. Play we did! And I'll add that the girls who came seemed relieved in the freedom to play even with big ol' bras and size 9 feet. (They make middle schoolers on a larger scale these days.)
They started with an impromptu game of three-on-three football. I felt a sense of pride when I had to tell the girls to play touch and not tackle football. They let out a collective groan and decided touch would be ok too. Here's Mina wishing she could tackle Maya. Don't let the fashion sense fool you.Then the girls took the soccer ball to the softball field and as they organized a game of kickball, they recruited about eight boys to join the game. It looked like a movie version of Sandlot kickball with every type of kid and personality on the field. When they argued about a foul ball, they squashed it in a matter of minutes -- ignoring the adult reffing from the sidelines -- and went on with the game. Maya was mowed down blocking first base and girls caught balls rocketed towards them off of boys' size 11 feet! (I asked) Mina caught anything that neared her vicinity and the girls bogarted the pitching mound. There was not one mention or whine from the boys about the girls and how they played. Well, not until they headed to the basketball courts for a game of Knock Out. When Maya smoked everybody, one of the boys said, "She shoots like a boy." That, unfortunately, can still elicit pride in a young girl athlete, but I jumped in and said, "You shoot like an athlete is what it is." Maya innocently blurted, "He just meant I don't shoot like AW here." She was pointing to her BFF who then blushed.
After KnockOut there was a fierce water balloon fight and then we played with one of those high soaring frisbees which was retrieved from the trees twice, a backyard once, but when it got stuck on a high, flimsy branch of a pine -- despite a gallant, climbing, shirtless effort by one of Husband's friends -- the game was over. It was time to go home then anyway considering we had played beyond when we said we would. Here are Maya custom-made kicks that Papi & I gave her yesterday.
Happy Birthday, Baby! You do 14 so well.
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