One of the unforgettable moments of my life was picking up my 13 year old daughter after her first night-time middle school dance.
I had followed orders and parked a safe distance down the semi-circular drive from the front of the school, so I wouldn’t be a too-visible parental presence. That would have been much too embarrassing.
From my discreet parking place, I saw the doors of the school suddenly burst open, letting loose a shouting, snorting, pushing, punching group of boys.
After a considerable pause, the doors opened again, as they were designed to do. And quietly, gracefully, chatting and smiling, came the girls.
Even in the heavily shadowed light it was clear, these, too, were kids, the same age as the rambunctious adolescent herd, but if not yet adult, they were at least recognizably within reach of inescapable adulthood.
How wonderful for the girls that they had each other, and their shared culture of sympathy, decorum, and budding humanity. How hard for them, that for hours every day, for reasons only of shared ages, they were penned up with the bestial boys.
And over the next few years, as middle-school flowed into high school, the difficulties of co-education would only grow more complex, as, among other things, the boys started to catch up, and in their growing maturity, posed more difficult questions with more consequential answers.
The teenage years of boys and girls are all about changes, physical changes, psychological changes, changes of schools and homes and responsibilities. Reading several dozen of our guest today Carol Weston’s Dear Carol advice columns in Girls’ Life Magazine I was struck by how familiar, one could almost say how unchanging the catalog of changes and responses to them Carol’s column contains: Budding breasts, as a source of pride or embarrassment; once best friends turned critical or competitive; boys who were oblivious or enticing, academic achievement as a distant goal or an over-present burden.
And yet, around these constant issues, there is an ever-changing world, offering new kinds of heroines and role-models, and newly exposed male celebrities demanding subservience or sexual service, and a wider world in which success and its rewards are being distributed more and more un-equally, where the threats of both addiction and terrorism seem closer than ever.
Carol Weston is the author of sixteen books, both fiction and non-fiction, she has been the “Dear Carol” advice columnist at Girls’ Life since the magazine’s first issue in 1994. Her newest book is Speed of Life.
Weston’s first book, Girltalk: All the Stuff Your Sister Never Told You, came out in four editions and was translated into many languages. Her other books include For Girls Only, For Teens Only, Private and Personal, How to Honeymoon, Melanie Martin Goes Dutch, With Love From Spain, Melanie Martin” , “Melanie in Manhattan, and a “momoir” called From Here to Maternity.
Weston and her husband, playwright Rob Ackerman have lived in Manhattan since 1985. They have two daughters and one cat.