Has anybody seen my daughter?

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I didn’t believe any of those people who said, “they literally grow up overnight”, but that is how it was with my daughter. She went to bed one night as a little girl and woke up the next morning as a fourteen-year-old embittered, empowered middle-aged woman! There was no warning and no support - I wanted to call the SES to come clean up the damage but apparently they only deal with little emergencies - nothing as serious as the devastation my child was capable of.

New friends, new attitudes, new “activities” and new, very powerful, vocal chords flooded into our lives in the space of what seemed like a few days.

The “Clayton’s boyfriend”, the boyfriend you have when you don’t really have a boyfriend, would not come over to meet us. We became the parents of the girl who other parents banned their daughter from seeing. Not only did we not have ALL the answers - now we had absolutely NO answers on account of the fact that we knew nothing about anything. You name the subject - we had zero knowledge on it (according to our daughter, at least).

Thankfully, the shock of this hormone-fuelled tsunami went some way to blocking the pain of what we were experiencing. Each time we felt our hearts breaking - watching what we felt was her self-exploitation or inexplicable self-sabotage - we were confronted with a new situation to deal with and had to put our feelings aside. Each emergency became easier to cope with as I - not so much her father - became able to act as she acted. I stopped taking everything personally and stopped caring about every little lesson I had ever taught her. Now she was a little shocked. Her mother was capable of switching off too. She didn’t have a monopoly on self-focus.

As she taught, I learned. And vice versa. I became an audience watching a rare being bloom into true beauty. She blossomed and, as long as I watched silently, I was allowed to stay and witness. I saw a girl transform into a sassy, assured, well-informed young and beautiful woman, all in the space of about eighteen months. Surely that is too quick but it does fit with the speed of the 21st century. So I look, everyday, and I watch her continue to grow and I blink and check what I am seeing. That can’t be right, can it? Yes, it is. How about that? My daughter is the woman I thought I’d grow up to be.