A dear friend of mine has a daughter in her early teens. "D2" Instant Messages me somewhere between occasionally and frequently with her tales of crushes, gossip, heartache, and generalized tomboy malaise. Her messages both intrigue and terrify me. I cherish her confidences as much as they make me cringe.
Unwittingly breaking every promise I made to my early teen self, it seems that somewhere along the line I completely forgot how to relate to a girl in her early teens. Some days, the best I can do is curb my language.
I care what she thinks of me to an unnerving degree; paranoid that she might suspect I have committed the ultimate betrayal and forgotten how to speak to a girl her age. This, I imagine, probably officially makes me "old".
Growing up, my favorite "old" people were the ones who treated me as if I were already one of them. With D2, I try to cover my thirty-something inadequacies and encourage the myth that with age comes wisdom by dishing out brilliant advice (and passing it off as my own). My advice to her includes such gems as, "you can't always get what you want. No, you can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you'll get what you need".
To which she replied, "I kno".
One day, years from now, she's going to hear some CSN song while driving around somewhere, and come to the sudden realization that I was a giant, clueless smartass.