I have a daughter who's about to start kindergarten, one on the cusp of teenagerdom and another who's 16. Sweet 16.

"Sweet" 16.

We call her The Lodger. She sleeps in our house and eats our food, but sometimes we don't see her for days. The bedroom door is shut. Music is playing. She may or may not emerge, hours later, looking pale and blinking, like she's just come out of a dark movie theater during the day and can't adjust to the light. Maybe it's all those "Twilight" and "Night World" books. She's becoming downright vampiric. Are her canine teeth getting longer? Are there an unusual number of cats and dogs missing from the neighborhood?

It was strange at first, and hard to adjust, but now we're inured to The Lodger and her habits. It started a few years ago, when she didn't want to hug or be put to bed. She got cranky and aloof. We argued. She didn't want me to play in the parent-child soccer match (FYI: I'm wicked good. Just read my blog). She rolled her eyes. She debated ... everything. She became pathologically defensive. She turned monosyllabic, irrational, judgmental. And that's on a good day.

Shut up. That's stupid. Soooo stupid. No offense. That's so creepy. Stop it. Stop it! Why? Who cares. Whatever. Like like like. Don't look at me. You're looking! Literally. Like. Seriously? C'mon. Really? Seriously?

Never more than four words at a time. Nothing that couldn't be printed on a white t-shirt in black 84-point lettering.

I'm exaggerating, a bit, but the thing is, we got used to it. We understood why she stayed in her room. She wanted space to be herself, or to become herself. She wanted to escape all the prying eyes, and chattering tongues, of the world. She didn't want to be rude and difficult. But certain things are beyond her control. Teenagerdom, for instance. The chemical coup d'état raging in her endocrine system. The hormonal soup kitchen of adolescence.

She was doing us a favor, actually. Thank you. She helped us avert arguments, punishments, more arguments about the punishment, threats and recriminations. Strongly worded texts and emails. Long gruff silences. Letters to the city council about unfair and unconstitutional parenting methods. Staying in the bedroom is a great idea, come to think of it. Maybe she's being perfectly rational. Maybe she's the ideal teenager.

I missed the hugs and kisses, the cuddling, the requests to take her to the playground or kick around the soccer ball, the piggyback rides. But I am getting older. I can hardly carry a full-grown 16-year-old, especially since it would mean putting my coffee down, and that's not an option. Her friends might think it was pretty strange. My friends too, for that matter.

How did I adjust when my sweet little girl became a teenager?

For starters, I left her alone. I didn't react to every barb and scowl, every sullen face. I didn't nag. (I tried not to nag.) I let her make her own mistakes and avoided saying I told you so when she made them. I didn't force conversation or try too hard. I wanted to play soccer with her. I wanted to hang out, every day, but I didn't ask. I restrained myself, most of the time, because when I did ask she invariably said no. I let a few months go by. She asked me to go running. That's more like it. Let her come to me, in her own time.

I let her grow up and become more independent. I didn't want to. I was terrified when she started going out with friends at night, even though it was only to the movies with nice kids who weren't getting into trouble. (I interrogated her on the movie plots ... she really did go ... it wasn't a clever ruse to meet boys at a party). I stared out the window like the family dog waiting for Master to come back home. I didn't cry, because I'm a man, but I did pace, wring my hands - forcefully - and fret three or four times.

I sat back and lived my life. My daughter and I have a number of things in common and, as she grows older, we'll have even more. She likes music. I gave her my old turntable. Sometimes I lent her an album or bought her a new one. We went to used record stores and searched through the 99 cent rack: A 1963 LP of Orson Welles reading 19th century American poetry? Why not. The price is right. "Havlicek Stole the Ball: Exciting Highlights of Celtic Championship Play-Offs 1956-57 and 1965-66" (Narrated by Johnny Most)? Uh, yeah. Obviously.

We bought weird albums and laughed at them. I didn't pretend to be a Taylor Swift fan. But I made some Spotify suggestions and listened to her music without judgment. I remember driving in the car with my mom, trying to explain what was so good about REM, Van Halen and The Clash. She generally did not share my views, but she listened patiently and didn't tell me to turn off that darn racket. She didn't try to convince me that Glenn Miller or Benny Goodman was real music, but Iron Maiden was just noise.

I stopped asking How was your day? and Is everything alright? That just pushed her away. Sometimes we played catch with the football and, as the sun went down and we grew tired, she would confide in me. Some things she only told my wife. Some days were more difficult than others - for her and for us - but that's to be expected. My teenage daughter was doing okay.

14, 15, 16. We got through it. The Lodger leaves her door open more often these days. She's adjusted to being a teenager, and we've gotten used to raising one. We watch movies and occasionally play games. We talk about books, music, sports and people. Sometimes we argue, but she always apologizes soon afterward, or silently does a chore, which she knows I'll appreciate even more than words.

Sometimes she wants to be left alone. She still spends a lot of time in her room, behind closed door, sitting cross-legged on the bed, wires connecting ears to laptop, laptop to wall, phone to outlet. Between homework and sports and Instagram, there isn't always time for Dad. But she sends me emails, almost every day. We communicate by link and vine. Sometimes the text is only one word long. Seriously?! But now the monosyllabic quexclamation is directed at the guy in a six-second video, not me.

There are upsides to having a daughter grow up. She doesn't color herself with my deodorant stick and say, "A ghost did it." She's fully potty-trained. I don't need to watch her at the playground. She can stay home by herself. Her independence, you learn, can also be your independence.

That's our job, after all. At first we need to protect, advise, comfort and nurture, but, as they grow older, one of our primary functions is to stop ourselves from protecting, advising, comforting and nurturing. We need to let them go. What's the saying ? If you love someone, set them free; if they come back to you, then they probably majored in English and can't get a job. I think we have this cross-stitched on a throw pillow.

My teenage daughter is almost a woman. She's changed a lot since the day she was born - far less shriveled and purple - but she's still my sweetheart. I miss the little girl she once was, but I'm proud of the person she's become.


Andrew Madigan is a freelance writer. His first novel, "Khawla's Wall," is available from Barnes & Noble, Amazon and a few very hard to find book shops.