Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. Coming of Age
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Coming of Age
I don't use deodorant yet. I don't think people start to smell bad until they're at least twelve. So I've still got a few months to go. (1.2)
Ah, if only puberty were really that simple.
That's another thing. My mother's always talking about when I'm a teenager. Stand up straight, Margaret! Good posture now makes for a good figure later. Wash your face with soap, Margaret! Then you won't get pimples when you're a teenager. If you ask me, being a teenager is pretty rotten—between pimples and worrying about how you smell! (4.10)
One of the great things about childhood is having a pretty easy relationship with your body. And then the teen years come along and mess everything up. Don't worry though, Shmoopsters—it's tricky for everyone, and your body eventually chills out a bit.
All through supper I thought about how I was going to tell my mother I wanted to wear a bra. I wondered why she hadn't ever asked me if I wanted one, since she knew so much about being a girl. (5.81)
Perhaps because she knows enough about being a girl to recognize that you don't have any boobs yet, Margaret? One of the trickiest things about growing up is that social expectations don't always (or often) sync up with how our bodies are changing.
Then Miss Abbott told us since we were in sixth grade and very grown up, there were certain subjects we would cover during the school year. "Certain very private subjects just for girls." That was all she said but I got the idea. Why do they wait until sixth grade when you already know everything! (7.41)
Since not everyone's parents are willing and able to sit down and have the birds and the bees talk, the Miss Abbotts of the world (and books like Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret) play a pretty important role in offering some guidance and information to lots of young people.
Are you there God? It's me, Margaret. I just did an exercise to help me grow. Have you thought about it God? About my growing, I mean. I've got a bra now. It would be nice if I had something to put in it. Of course, if you don't think I'm ready I'll understand. I'm having a test in school tomorrow. Please let me get a good grade on it God. I want you to be proud of me. Thank you. (7.43)
Bra size and world peace… for some reason we're thinking those aren't necessarily equal concerns in God's eyes. Sorry, Margaret.
Then I stood on the chair and took off my robe. I stood naked in front of the mirror. I was starting to get some hairs. I turned around and studied myself sideways. Then I got off the chair and moved it closer to the mirror. I stood back up on it and looked again. My head looked funny with all those rollers. The rest of me looked the same. (13.48)
How much energy does Margaret use worrying about how she looks?
Are you still there God? See how nice my bra looks now! That's all I need—just a little help. I'll really be good around the house God. I'll clear the table every night for a month at least! Please God… (13.54)
So two things we weren't aware God was personally interested in: Margaret's bra size and whether or not she does her chores.
"No fair!" Norman called out. "You've got to really kiss him."
"Okay, okay," Janie said. She tried again. She made it this time, but far away from his mouth.
I felt a lot safer knowing it would all be cheek kissing. (14.48-50)
Ah, kissing games. These are a right of passage in pretty much every kid's life.
Are you there God? It's me, Margaret. Gretchen, my friend, got her period. I'm so jealous God. I hate myself for being so jealous, but I am. I wish you'd help me just a little. Nancy's sure she's going to get it soon, too. If I'm last I don't know what I'll do. Oh please God. I just want to be normal. (16.77)
Pro tip: Normal covers a really wide range of ages, so don't worry too much if your friends have started their periods and yours still hasn't come.
How about that! Now I'm growing for sure. Now I am almost a woman!
Are you there God? It's me, Margaret. I know you're there God. I know you wouldn't have missed this for anything! Thank you God. Thanks an awful lot… (25.41-42)
Finally Margaret gets what she's been waiting so patiently for. No—she hasn't found the right religion for her… she's gotten her period. Phew.
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. Coming of Age Study Group
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