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Tween for a Day


Click image to watch video of makeover

At first, the acorns fell. Then Home Depot rolled out the snow blowers. Finally, a third sign that fall was approaching was this text I received from my 12-year-old niece Paige:

“Aunt Weecee, can you help me get my room ready for school?”

I tossed the handful of acorns I’d been collecting from my parents’ driveway into the woods and drove straight to my sister’s house.

Standing in Paige’s room amid the chaos of her childhood discards (Barbies) and new pre-teen accessories (make-up), I had a flashback to being twelve myself. Remembering that age all too well, I exhaled; glad never to have to go through that again.

First up, the dresser, one drawer at a time. Considering Paige grew 1.25 inches since June (and apparently not slowing down anytime soon) older clothes flew in all directions. A Donate pile! A Keep pile! A Felice pile! (Being the exact height – for now – as my niece, I was happy to accept her discards. Note: GAP Kids has a lot cuter stuff). As I was adding the remaining clothes neatly into drawers, Paige made a shocking revelation: “I don’t know how to fold.”

Stop the presses! This can’t be. Not my own organized flesh and blood. Following a brief tutorial (“Hold at neck, fold in, flip twice…”) Paige learned quickly.

“That’s so easy,” she said. I let her fold the remaining. After three shirts, Paige was a pro and I was beaming with pride.

Then we turned our attention to the closet. (See time-lapse video above by clicking on image or here.)

In a little more than an hour we’d done what she’d privately wanted to do for months: clear her room from the intersection of childhood tchotchkes and pre-adolescent preparations for Teendom.

“Now I’m ready for high school,” Paige said excitedly, grabbing her cell phone and plopping herself onto her newly made bed where she intended to chat and text for hours. Gathering the plastic bags of old toys, mementos (crayon drawings of a visit to the zoo in fifth grade) and assorted hand-me-downs, I turned to look once more at my niece, who when she uttered her first word “Duck!” at age one, made me tear up.

“Yes, you are so ready for high school,” I said, leaving her to Snapchat with her friends. Outside her bedroom door my nine-year-old nephew was waiting. “Felice, can we organize my room now?”

I nodded, wiped my eyes and followed him down the hallway.

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