And in honor of those thirteen years, here are thirteen fun facts about Princess Zurg.

1.  Her favorite place to shop is Hot Topic.  I don’t know how I feel about this.  I went in there the other day to buy her a birthday present, and I just got depressed because I felt so out of place, but of course I’m supposed to feel out of place because I’m somebody’s mom, for Pete’s sake.  If you think this has turned into a fun fact about me instead of my daughter, well, welcome to the world of mothers and daughters.

2.  She still likes Tokio Hotel, but now she is also obsessed with My Chemical Romance.  I have mixed feelings about this, too.  I thought about getting her a MCR t-shirt or something for Christmas, but a couple minutes of online shopping had me firmly planted in the OhIjustdon’tthinkso camp.  She only has a few of their songs on her iPod.  I trust her father has been screening them appropriately.  Anyway, her favorite song is “Helena.”  She watches the video on YouTube every morning before going to school.  I don’t know, she probably watches it several times before going to school.  And several more times when she comes home, and then again before going to bed.  It never gets old for her.

(I had to use the flipped version of the video so I could embed it.)

3.  She still likes me to tuck her in at night.  As part of her going to bed ritual, I have to tell her a story.  This started when she was very young, and she needed help thinking of something pleasant in order to go to sleep.  It used to be simple, like I’d tell her to think about unicorns and rainbows and crap.  But soon it evolved into full-fledged story time, only the stories had to be funny, and they all had to be about her particular special interest at the time.  For a full two years, every night, I had to come up with a new story about the characters from Corpse Bride.  For the last several months, however, I have had to come up with new stories about Bill Kaulitz from Tokio Hotel and Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance.  It is harder than you might think.  I’ve managed to make Herr Kaulitz interesting by giving him a crazy (and totally inauthentic) German accent, but I haven’t warmed up to Mr. Way’s personality at all.  Frequently the stories are just plain lame, but she forgives me because I’m a mom and I’m supposed to be lame.

4.  She is working on a graphic novel about a girl in an oppressive society where everyone is forced to be the same.  Initially the girl doesn’t realize the citizenry is being oppressed because of all the brainwashing and government secrets and crap, but then she finds out and tries to save her country.  It’s a challenge for her because she wants it to be realistic, but not too disturbing–because she’s only twelve, er, thirteen, and she doesn’t like to think about really disturbing things, even though she knows they’re part of life.

5.  She has dealt with some of her anti-church cynicism by creating a parody version of the church’s magazine for children.  She has a greater gift for satire than I expected, but she’s starting to get writer’s block because the real magazine is repetitive and boring and she feels she’s pretty much exhausted the possibilities for mockery.

6.  Though the parody magazine has been a good outlet, she still feels compelled to have an existential crisis every Sunday before church, during which she condemns us for forcing her to be associated with an organization that is anti-gay and oppressive to women.  We have had a lot of thoughtful discussions about these topics, at the end of which she seems to accept that there is a more nuanced way to approach religion.  Every Sunday morning pushes the Reset button, though, so we’re destined to have “thoughtful conversations” for many years to come.

7.  She has the same religious struggles I had at her age, with the same all-or-nothing attitude that is typical of adolescents.  (Only when I was thirteen, I had the church’s institutional and cultural racism to deal with, too.  I swear, progressive Mormon kids today don’t know how easy they have it.)  The big difference between her and me is that my struggles were almost exclusively internal, whereas hers are lived out loud.  She is simply incapable of struggling quietly.  When she isn’t bugging the crap out of me, I somewhat envy her confrontational style.

8.  Despite all her anti-church protests, she still likes to go to the midweek youth activities, even when she thinks that the activities are going to be stupid.  Her youth leaders say they miss her when she’s not in class on Sunday because she always has insightful comments and makes things more interesting.

9.  Yesterday she told me that her school choir was singing “Imagine” by John Lennon.  “I’ve never liked that song,” I said.

“Really?” she said.  “That’s a relief.  I thought I was the only one.”

We hope someday you will join us, and the world will never have to hear that song again.

10.  She loves to try new foods.  I’m sure I’ve included this as a fun fact in the past, but she continues to have a surprisingly sophisticated palate.  Tonight we are going to have German food for her birthday dinner.  I think she was convinced because the name of the restaurant we’re going to is the same as the drummer from Tokio Hotel.

11.  She says the word “epic” about 47 times a day.  She knows it gets old, but she can’t help it.

12.  Among her group of friends, she is the Alpha Girl.  She finds it a burden, but there’s not much one can do when one has a calling.

13.  When she gets really excited about something–like she finds something on the internet that amuses her or that she really likes–she will literally dance and jump around the room.  If only she would get consistently excited in 20-minute increments, she could have a really good exercise program going on.  In the meantime, it’s just cute.