Girls' minds change like the weather

I figured out early on how fickle girls can be.
I was 14 and nuts about a shapely, curly-haired classmate. We'll call her "Julie" because this column is published in my hometown newspaper and I want to safeguard her identity. And also because her name is Julie.
We exchanged notes in class and shared a bus seat on the way home from a basketball game. I thought we had something. And then, one Saturday night, I got an urgent call from my buddies, who were attending a dance at the fairgrounds. "We thought you might want to know that your 'girlfriend' is here," they shouted over the din of Motley Crue's "Smoking in the Boys Room."
"And by the way, she's totally making out with some other guy behind the RC Cola machine."
It was a painful lesson, but one that has served me well in parenthood. Thanks to "Julie" I'm not surprised when another fickle gal, my 5-year-old daughter Claire, changes her mind on a dime. (I can only hope Claire will exhibit more restraint than "Julie" in the presence of pop machines.)
My nine loyal readers may recall that in October, I wrote a column about how Claire has spent months planning for two life-changing events - her fifth birthday and the start of kindergarten. I'm writing today to retract that column.
I do so not because I pulled a New York Times and made the whole thing up, but because Claire's mind - like Midwestern weather - changes violently without notice.
You may recall I reported that Claire had been discussing her fifth birthday bash since she was 3, as if she were planning an event on the scale of the D-Day invasion.
But as the big day approached, she began to backpedal. Not just about the party - about the whole concept of turning 5. She grew unsure about entering this mystical portal into big kid-hood.
At times she expressed reservations about her party, too. This came as a surprise, given that this event had demanded more time and thought than NASA invests in a shuttle launch.
But it was too late. The invitations already had gone out, and the RSVPs were in. The party had to go on, lest four preschoolers be deprived of an afternoon spent making each other cry by refusing to share. So in they tromped Saturday, eager to ease Claire into age 5. And even more eager to unwrap and play with her presents.
Although slightly under the weather, my girl persevered, casting off the shackles of fourdom and embracing the intoxicating rush of fivehood.
Filling the house with pint-sized princesses did not, as was feared, move me to knock myself out with the nearest blunt object. My wife Wendy and I found we could keep the girls quiet by serving them cake, ice cream and candy. Snack time bought us 10 minutes of silence until the sugar rush kicked in, at which point the girls began running laps around the house like greyhounds chasing an electric rabbit.
Moments later the party broke up, allowing us to turn over our guests, hopped-up and nauseated, to their parents. (I bet we won't get quite as many RSVPs for Claire's sixth birthday party.)
In a few months these girls will enter school. This once was a much-anticipated event at our house. Claire wants to learn to spell so she can break all the codes used by M-O-M and D-A-D.
Yet today Claire is beginning to get cold feet about walking into the hallowed halls of academia. As was the case with her fifth birthday, she's beginning to see her first day of school as a point of no return.
I would fret over her reluctance to open this exciting new chapter in her life, but chances are her feelings about starting school will change several more times before September. Heck, her feelings might change several more times before I finish writing this sentence.
After all, girls' whims are frequent and unpredictable. Let this be a lesson to all rookie parents out there. And any guys who are considering asking "Julie" to the prom.

- Ben Bromley, a former Lillie Suburban Newspapers editor, now is a writer for the Baraboo News Republic.

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