Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tweenage Wishes

January 18, 1983 Tuesday

Dear Ophelia,
"Today I was sick so I didn't go to school. I was faking. I'm sorry but I really needed a day off. Also it rained today. We had chicken dumplings for dinner. I wish I could have a horse. I hope Pogo, the kitten I found, is doing fine. Lara was sick today too. I wish Randy or some boy will ask me. I dream about boys you know. Well bye, Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."

Jennifer was famous for finding animals, bringing them home and trying to hide them from her parents. In Colorado, she used to round-up all the neighborhood cats and put them in her mom's Mazda. She watched with interest. Some cats just wanted out and they frantically pawed at the windows. Other cats couldn't get over all the other cats. There was a lot of hissing. There was no fighting. The cats always settled on an uneasy truce to escape the car first and fight later. Jennifer does not like to think of what she did as cruel--rather as scientific experimentation in feline behavior and social structure.

The kitten, Pogo, was currently locked in her closet with a bowl of milk. She had some insane idea that her father wouldn't notice an extra cat living in her room. At dinner that night, she left the table to check on the kitten so often that her dad, registering the illogical pattern of behavior in his daughter, quickly realized that she was up to something. He found the kitten and it was sent packing like all the other animals she "found". Jennifer wonders now if she was rescuing lost animals or stealing people's pets?

January 19, 1983 Wednesday

Dear Ophelia,
"Today I went to school and it didn't rain. I wish I had a power like ESP or something. Or I could make things move by thinking or maybe to fly or turn invisible and best of all be able to talk to animals by mind and let them talk to me by mind. Well I have to go, bye Ophelia."

This is about the age that the Harry Potter generation secretly waits for their Letter. A self-awareness is happening that comes with a desire to be special. I think that kids going through puberty relate to fictional people who suddenly gain superpowers and don't know how to use them. Harry with his wand, Spiderman with his squirting web, Superman struggling with the one thing that weakens him, Batman hiding behind his mask. These superheroes try to fit in, try to hide the changes in their bodies and are sometimes utterly confused by what they're supposed to do with their new abilities. Puberty is much the same. It's a new body, new urges, new embarrassments, new power and a lot of new responsibility.

Super People or Confused Adolescent Fantasies?

January 20, 1983 Thursday

Dear Ophelia,
"Today I went to Lara's. I don't have much homework at all. I got an A- on my math test. I still wish I had the powers listed on January 19th. Please help me make up my mind where I want to live. Well, bye Ophelia."

Jennifer is struggling with her new body; her new powers. Her father and brother cannot guide her. She is raising herself and she knows she needs help. Most superheroes are orphans (Harry, Spiderman, Superman to name a few) but they still need someone to take care of them. Jennifer is considering a move to Alaska to live with her mom--someone who's already gone through the same changes.

January 21, 1983 Friday

Dear Ophelia,
"Today Lara is spending the night. We watched some movies and put on nail polish. Lara can never get her mind off sex (immature). I think of sex but usually at night when I'm alone. I lay on the bed and pretend a boy is on top of me. I hope Chipper is happy. Well I have to go. See ya tomorrow. Bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer. P.S. I wish I was pretty."

Jennifer is right, its much more mature to think about sex when you're alone! I love how the tweenage brain jumps from thought of sex to thoughts of a pet hamster without hesitation.
Jennifer often wished she was pretty. She did not have the knack for hair and make-up and, really, that's all she needed.

January 22, 1983 Saturday

Dear Ophelia,
"Today I bought a birdcage from Lara. I am not getting a bird though. I put Chipper in it and he climbs all the way to the top and sits on the perches. I really wish I could have a bird, a horse and those powers. Well I have to go, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."

It's a simple wish list really--she just wants a bird, a horse and ESP!

January 23, 1983 Sunday

Dear Ophelia,
"Today I found out Chipper loves the birdcage. He stays in the birdcage from 7am to 6pm then goes back to his other cage with the wheel in it. I really wish I had a bird. I am going to bed at seven o'clock PM tonight. Bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer. P.S. it's raining."

Jennifer did not buy the birdcage for her hamster. She thought if she had the cage, it would improve her argument for getting a bird to go with it. Her father was not swayed by this logic. However, she was able to make her hamster happy with the tall cage and that was a small victory.

January 24, 1983 Monday
Dear Ophelia,
"Today I decided to move to Alaska. I hope I can. My mom lives up there. Me and Dan got in a fight and I'm grounded. So is he. I wish I could have a bird. I hope my mom wants me around. I really love her. It took me months to decide to move. Well bye Ophelia. Your sad friend, Jennifer."
A page from Jennifer's Diary--she writes in cursive now

In every single entry, I've noticed a common thread. For the things Jennifer believes she won't get--she wishes. She wishes for powers, beauty, a horse, a bird and a boyfriend (not necessarily in that order...) For the things she believes she can have--she hopes. She hopes the kitten is doing well, she hopes her hamster is happy, she hopes she can move to Alaska and she hopes her mom wants her around. I find her unconscious distinction quite "mature".

Do you hope for some things and wish for others?
Super Orphans
Harry Potter
Frodo Baggins
Luke and Leia Skywalker

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