My 12-year-old daughter has been reading the Shadowhunters Novels, which are fantasy stories about special humans who wrangle demons and other supernatural creatures. When she couldn’t find the next book in the series at school, we decided to try the library.
As we had so many times before, we entered the building and turned left, strolling down the hallway that leads to the children’s section. But the book my daughter wanted wasn’t in the familiar aisle labeled “Series.”
A librarian with friendly eyes (and what I’m sure was a welcoming smile underneath the mask) approached us. “Looking for something in particular?”
“Do you have Shadowhunters?” we asked.
“Oh, yes, but those would be in the Young Adult section,” the librarian said.
Ooh, the Young Adult section. It totally made sense, and yet the idea of my child reading YA novels hadn’t registered in my brain until that moment.
From where we stood, the Young Adult section was located diagonally across the room, in a cozy corner with sage green walls and a couple of strategically placed couches. Compared to the bright, expansive children’s section, the YA corner looked fashionably sparse and — to borrow a word from my tweens — aesthetic.
As we followed the librarian to the YA aisles, suddenly I felt sentimental. “You’re crossing the floor,” I whispered to my daughter, who apparently didn’t think this was that big a deal.
But it was. In a few months, my oldest will officially be a teenager. Since the pandemic began, she has transformed from needing a babysitter into being one. That, in itself, is mind-boggling.
It is gratifying, illuminating, and bittersweet to be raising tweens, these amazing beings who can school me on the finer points of TikTok in one moment and in the next become enraged that their favorite soccer socks are missing in action. They are definitively no longer babies, but they still want my help in important ways.
I hope they know that whatever comes next — from discovering YA novels to finding new passions and ways to express themselves in this topsy-turvy world — I’ll be cheering them on, always, from my own cozy corner.
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