That same face that used to light up when she saw you now launches poison-dipped daggers at you for reasons you can’t understand. Where did your baby girl go? Where is Muffin Cakes? Pumpkin? What the hell happened to your Poo Bear? She grew up. She’s 15 and she’s breaking away from you.

The good news is, buried beneath her fake eyelashes, skimpy clothes and a hurricane of emotions is the little girl who’s favorite place was on your lap in your arms. She’s still there. Trust me. I have a 15-year-old daughter and we talk deep, hang out and have fun. She calls me her “best friend.” I’m going to tell you how Snapchat will bring your little girl back to you.

The Hurricane

My daughter and I are very similar so it’s historically been very easy for us to be close. But, when she hit 12, her desire to be “grown” and her disrespectful attitude started driving a wedge between us. She got a basic cell phone and most of her communication was to her crew of girlfriends in her room with the door closed.

The distance between us was scary for me. She was on the cusp of becoming a “woman” which carried a mountain of fear and apprehension. She’s the middle child between two brothers who are typical boys – feed me, give me Wifi and leave me alone. Boys, in my opinion, are easy. But she was a mystery that I couldn’t figure out. Neither could my guy frustrated friends who were in the same sinking boat.

Enter the Snap

A few years later, we got the kids smartphones and my daughter got Snapchat. I downloaded the app out of fear when heard it had a reputation as a “sexting” app. To my surprise, she added me and used Snapchat to ask me for things – money, rides, permission – typical stuff.

Her snaps were blurry shots of one eyeball or her face looking glum. A band of type read, “Can you take me to the mall Saturday?” I responded with a similar snap. I took a closeup shot of my nostrils and responded, “yep.” Eventually, we started snapping random things, our lunch, funny looking people, coffee, teachers she hated. Then, we got streaks.

If you don’t know what a streak is on Snapchat, it’s when you snap a person and they snap you back every day. Beside their name on the app is the number of days you consistently snapped each other – and sometimes some cute icons. Streaks mean a lot in the Snapgame.

I found myself snapping her three or four times a day. She would often snap me first, “I’m soooo tired today!!!” (emojis, etc.) I’d snap her back and offer to take her for coffee after school. She’d sign off, “OK, cool. Luv u.”

When I’d get busy and forget to snap her back she’d send a frantic text. “STREAK!!!” I’d promptly make a zombie face and snap her. I made the mistake of losing a streak and I almost lost our snap relationship. Don’t lose a streak!!

Over the course of a few months, I noticed our relationship smoothing out. She shared more with me. She was still moody but I didn’t feel like I was losing her anymore. I think the practice of reaching out three or four times a day made us feel connected. It gave us a new place to be friends.

The Plan

Get Snapchat and add your daughter. Wait a week. Send her a funny snap. Don’t play with the filters yet. No dog ears or for goodness sake a crown of flowers. Let her snap you back. Build a streak but don’t mention it. Take things slow. You’re taming a lion who has proven she can bite your head off! Take your cues from her. Snap at her pace and in her “style”.

Snap pictures of things in your day that she might find funny or interesting. Don’t “selfie” her to death. She doesn’t want to see your mug! Over time, throw out a “luv ya!” Learn to use filters. Keep it light and have fun with it. Snaps may seem trivial and even silly, but being in continual contact with your daughter lets you overlap from parent into friend. Just don’t forget the parent part. She won’t

I hope you are able to make a connection with your baby girl. She’s still there. She might be just a few Snaps away.

– Art Henson