I want my daughter to be Juno.
Well, minus the whole “teen pregnancy” thing. But otherwise — Juno.
There’s a part in the movie early on, before she’s knocked up, where she drops a stack of books while standing at her locker. A reasonably handsome jock, surrounded by his friends, tosses an insult her way, to the delight of his entourage. Something about her books getting a look at her face.
Juno says nothing to him, but her voice narrates the moment: “The funny thing is that Steve Rendazo secretly wants me. Jocks like him always want freaky girls. Girls who play the cello and wear Converse All-Stars and want to be children’s librarians when they grow up. Oh yeah, jocks eat that shit up.”
Later in the movie, Steve Rendazo is visibly distraught when he catches sight of Juno and Michael Cera making out.
Juno doesn’t care what people think of her. She wears strange clothes and says odd things and gives her baby to someone who can’t have one, even though she has to carry the evidence of her screwup under her shirt for 9 months. She’s not popular, but she doesn’t care.
I was not like Juno.
Short version: growing up, I wanted to be included very, very badly. To be part of the cool kids club (never mind that some of the cool kids weren’t all that awesome). No matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to get my membership card. Whether I held myself back or others did it for me, I was always on the periphery and trying desperately to fit in.
That mindset sticks with you, through adolescence and into adulthood. It taints everything. I work very hard, even now, to not care if I’m left out. Any event I’m not invited to still really, really hurts. A couple that doesn’t invite me to their wedding, even though they both came to mine. A girl I invited to my baby shower, but who left me off her invite list a few years later. It hurts me more than it should now that I’m 30-odd years old. I should be over it.
Recently, I learned of an event coming up that I would be getting an invitation to. The friends who told me about it sent me messages: “Have you gotten your invite? Are you going?” Alas, no invitation had come. Weeks later, everyone else I know who should be there has their invite. But my mailbox/inbox remains empty.
I’ve nothing left to believe at this point but that I am being intentionally left out. The organizers know how to contact me. I’m not hiding. A few friends have offered to boycott the event on principle, if it’s true I’m being intentionally excluded. (<3)
I was really upset at first, but I’m over it. Now I wish I’d been a little more Juno, a little less me when I first heard the news — i.e., not caring one way or another.
I may not have been strong enough to do it, or maybe my childhood didn’t allow it — but I am going to do everything I can to ensure my daughter lives a life free of that horrible feeling: caring (too much) whether or not people like her. If I can teach her to be more confident and sure of herself than I was, we’ll be doing good.
(But I’ll also be sure to teach her about condoms and birth control. Just in case she really does take my Juno advice to heart.)