I fear the future.
More to the point, I fear the year 2016 when my daughter turns 13.
Men at work tell me stories of their teenage girls and what the seven years of teen-hood feel like. Apparently, they feel like life in a tiny country under a tyrannical regime.
Slammed doors, tears, and petulance -- I'm used to all that. But those delights combined with the child's increased ability to argue, drive, and date make life to come sound unbearable.
"Boys are easier than girls as teenagers," more than one person has told me. My mom once said, "With boys, you worry. With girls, you pray."
A friend described a prom night he'd had to live through, with his daughter disappearing into the mountains with carloads of kids. He laughed about it, but I was terrified.
I once covered the rituals of prom in Wildwood, N.J. I watched as the rented limos from Philly crossed into the crazy beach town, one rolling extravagance after another.
At a gas station, a few of the kids got out to stretch their legs. When the car doors opened, smoke and lunatic laughter wafted out of the interior, cramped with over-perfumed, under-brained teenagers.
Their red eyes spun in their heads, and the brown bags they'd stuffed under their seats bristled with illegally bought booze and other contraband.
"Party!!" a young girl screamed in my face, as she smoked and downed chocolate milk. They were looking for directions to a motel where they'd planned to, um, continue the evening.
My daughter is so little and innocent now, she can't out-run me and she listens to what I say.
I wish I could stop time, but here comes the future, where teenagers roam the earth, and fathers tremble and pray.