Last night, we were out at our favorite restaurant, celebrating my daughter Emma’s birthday. After a fine meal, we came home and sat up late, discussing, as we often do, the fact that she seems more like 26 than 14 — not precocious in a pseudo-mature way, but genuinely older than her age. People with New Age tendencies have referred to Emma as an “old soul”; I think of her as a born psychotherapist, with insight and intuition that are remarkable for one her age. She enjoys adult conversation and loves to talk about what makes people tick.
While this is wonderful on one level, on another, it makes Emma’s life difficult. With her intuition and good people skills, she gets on well with just about everyone at school, but her emotional maturity also makes it difficult to find true peers in the Eighth Grade. Last night, she talked about feeling a little isolated and alone; she said she couldn’t bear to imagine a time when her parents wouldn’t be around. Unlike many teenagers I’ve known, she loves to spend time with us and our friends; she still enjoys hiking with us in Colorado, hanging out on the deck in the evenings and making “pleasant conversation,” as she calls it. She told us she was afraid she’d feel completely alone in the world without us.