They say that girls are made of “sugar and spice and all things nice”. They talk about them reaching “Sweet Sixteen”.
The overwhelming impression this gives is of a syrupy stickiness, like Sandy from Grease injected with candy-floss.
And of course they are sweet. Tingirl has a smile that lights up her whole face, and turns on one dimple, just on her right cheek, which she got from me. She is funny and kind and great company.
But teenage girls are so much more. There are the Slump Days, a full day spent lying on the couch in a dressing-gown, pyjamas and a giant one-foot slipper. But these days arise because of the vitality of the other days – the days out with friends, so many friends, and so many activities, such as her acting classes, or her trips to the cinema, or her string of texts promising that she will be on the very next bus home.
There are the reading days – she has introduced me to The Perks of Being A Wallflower and the Hunger Games trilogy, and I have introduced her to the Sherlock Holmes stories and Before I Die.
There are the Mum and Daughter days, days filled with hugs, and intimate conversations, and healthy bickering. There are the Dad and Daughter days, where we sit through long evenings watching baseball on TV, for we are both fans, and laughing a lot. There is the Dad and Daughter tradition of telephone-voting for Song 9 in the Eurovision Song Contest each year without even waiting to find out what country it is, or what it sounds like.
There is a girl full of love, and friendship, and loyalty to those friends, and a fierce determination when it comes to something she wants to do, and a remarkable talent for getting out of anything she doesn’t.
She may be made of sugar and spice, but she is made of so many other, far more interesting things.
Tingirl is sixteen today. Happy Birthday to our wonderful girl.