I got my chickens 6 weeks ago and they are growing faster than my coop building skills are developing. I can now use a skill saw, a power drill, a chop saw, a hammer and lots of weird little things I don’t know the names for and in the meantime my cute little fluffy chicks have turned into awkward medium-sized pterodactyls and I have no where to put them. To be honest, this whole thing kind of feels like 8th grade picture day all over again. I have big ideas (I always have), and then things just sort of……turn out. At least I’m hoping they will.
Let me tell you a little something about my 13 year old self. I was shy and awkward and having a hard time. I know, I know, you’re all like, “Oh Laura, everyone’s awkward when they’re 13,” and you’re mostly right. But I see middle school girls these days with eyelash extensions. Eyelash extensions! I work with high schoolers who have better hair/eyebrows/nails than I do, and I’m in my 30’s. Let me just tell you, things were not like this in 1998.
Going into my 8th grade year, I remember my mom and sister plucking my eyebrows for the first time as I sat on the toilet seat lid in the bathroom, wondering if this would ever hurt less. I had long black hair that was naturally curly/frizzy, but straighteners had just come out and changed the world so I spent 90 minutes every few days trying to change my hair. I was going through a multi-year long phase where I used Main and Tail Shampoo (it was a shampoo you could use on yourself AND your horse) and because I thought that was awesome and even though I didn’t have a horse, I did have a dream, so I used it.
As I entered 8th grade, I was just beginning to see that not everyone only cared about riding horses and spending time with their family. There was a big social structure out there in the world, and I was walking straight into it with my slightly less poofy hair, slightly thinner eyebrows and most importantly, without my braces.
This was a big deal. I had braces for what felt like EVER. Probably about 3 years. But it wasn’t just braces. I had a Herbtz for the 1st year, which no one even knows what that is anymore. Its some sort of huge metal contraption that connects your upper and lower teeth with metal bars and somehow manages to pull your lower jaw forward. It was basically headgear for the inside of my mouth. Sometime in-between 7th and 8th grade, I finally got my braces off and moved on to a retainer. Just a plain, old retainer. It felt like Heaven. And, just like I would, I got silver glitter and a small horse decal printed on it. I was like a whole new girl, but what I was most excited about was finally having a school photo taken without my braces.
I straightened (sort of) my hair, picked out my favorite outfit and off to school I went. I specifically remember walking up onto the stage in the cafeteria where pictures were being taken, sitting down, brushing my fingers through my hair trying to flatten it down and smiling for the camera. FLASH! It was over. As I left the room it hit me like a ton of bricks, literally, I think I lost my breath. The disappointment was big to a 13 year old girl who realized she forgot to take out her retainer.
I got my pictures back a few weeks later. They were fine. I had a big metal bar across my teeth but I was too scared to take retakes. What if I blinked?! At least my eyes were open, I thought.
And that’s just sort of how it goes. You have to get through that weird awkward stage. Unfortunately for all those young ones (and my chickens) out there, it comes all too fast. One moment, you’re this adorable little fluffy chick and the next you’re almost unrecognizable. But thankfully, that time goes fast too, and then you’re a 32 year old mom, who’s thankful she can just wear jeans and a t-shirt to work and throw her hair up in a bun, because I’ve got bigger things to worry about and larger fish to fry. Like raising a child and trying to build a chicken coop (which leaves me exactly zero minutes to think about things like eyelash extensions). And every once in awhile, I look back at old photos and laugh when I see that girl with her retainer. It makes me smile because it reminds me of who I was and who I still am and to be honest, I wouldn’t want any other story.