today my daughter is seventeen

The year the Girlchild was born, the Berlin wall came down, students rushed tanks in Tiananmen Square, and the U.S. invaded Panama. The world was in high gear.

In 1994 she was five and full of proverbial beans. It was hard to keep her out of trees. It was next to impossible to keep up with her questions. She composed impromtu operas which were staged at a run through the house, in which she played all parts in underpants and a floating silk cape, curls flying around her as she leaped up on the couch to launch into an aria.

So now she’s seventeen. Once in a while we still see flashes of that wild and crazy five year old, but of course we are not always privy to the details. Sometimes snatches of conversation come to me. Two chickens, one with a neckband marked “1” and the other marked “3” set free in the school halls. Is this a fantasy, a plan, a fond memory? If I bide my time she will probably tell me. In a talkative mood she flings herself across our bed to rant about the death penalty, the woeful lack of junk food in the school vending machines, the latest social lunch time drama, Iraq.

Sometimes we are terrified, but we are always mindful of our good fortune. There’s still a whole lot of shaking going on.