By Guest Blogger Andrea Randolph
Legs must be shaved, unibrow separated, hair flat-ironed, and tight jeans squeezed into—and I am screaming inside my head, “Not all at once, slow down!” My daughter, she is only eleven years old–this kind, responsible, smart, beautiful, thoughtful, and funny daughter of mine, but now she is a tween, and she is trying to move into adulthood at the speed of light.
Granted, her body has changed drastically in the last few months. She wears a bra, gets occasional face breakouts, and started her period. These ARE rights of passage, and I am trying to celebrate them.
Drama and tensions are high in our household these days. Suddenly, she is moody and sometimes disrespectful, and she goes in her room and CLOSES THE DOOR!! I embarrass her. She rolls her eyes. She is not interested in running around outside with the neighborhood kids as often. I remember acting this way as a TEENAGER, but this seems early. This makes me wonder…Why are kids growing up faster these days? Is it a survival of the species thing? Global warming? Do they know something we don’t?
I guess they are all signs of teen-dom and they are arriving much earlier than I ever thought they would.
A few weeks ago she was crying at bedtime declaring her life boring, never fun, and there was nothing to look forward to. She is my only child, so my focus has essentially been her for the past eleven years. After listening for close to an hour and trying to reassure her that everything was OK, I suddenly started to panic. What if she is clinically depressed? Do eleven-year-olds have these intense breakdowns? Does she need to talk to a counselor? I had a bit of a breakdown myself, and my husband had to listen to another female freak out that night. The next day all was forgotten, and she seemed happy and upbeat. I started to believe I had dreamed the whole episode. The hormones are out of control!
I gave her the sex talk almost two years ago when I heard rumors of discussion among the kids at school. It started off pretty straightforward and informative—by the time I finally shut myself up, I was shaking and sweating and fighting back the bile as I looked into the face that still resembled my baby girl. She stayed cool through the whole speech but probably has a warped view of boys, STDs, and pregnancy now.
According to my daughter all her 6th grade girlfriends are “dating” or “going out with” boys in their classes. As far as I can tell, they aren’t really going out and the relationships are brief. She was distraught, because no one had “asked her out.” Finally a boy asked her out over the holiday break. She was ecstatic. He promptly broke up with her the day they got back to school—they never actually spoke. She was heartbroken. “What is wrong with me? Everyone else has a boyfriend!” My husband and I tried to reassure her there would be many more boyfriends.
We try to be tuned in to everything that is going on—we monitor internet access, we talk about our days at the dinner table, we try and know who her friends are. At this point she still shares information with us about friends and boys. She is not going to divulge everything, but if my eyes don’t bulge and my mouth isn’t hanging open when she tells me something, she might keep talking.
Cell Phone Dilemma
One of the biggest decisions we have made regarding my daughter lately was to buy her a cell phone. I know the opinions on this vary widely. Of course, “everyone her age has one.” Yes, it has been nice to be able to contact her when she is staying after school or running around the neighborhood. However, I am conflicted about this decision. I feel I have to take it away at bedtime, dinner time, and during homework. I am convinced this device has added to the 6th grade drama. Sometimes I wish we had waited another year before adding the phone into the mix, yet I know it makes her feel included in her network of friends.
I know this teen-dom is an inevitable process, but I must admit it is hard to watch. It is difficult not to give advice and criticism about her choices. I have to remind myself not to voice everything I am thinking–don’t do that, please don’t wear that, are you sure that is what you want? I weigh the importance of the comment before I say it.
Hopefully she is learning from her choices. Because I lover her, I want to shield her from the embarrassment and heartbreak I know is coming—but of course I can’t. I have tried to raise my daughter to be happy, healthy, and kind. I can only hope we continue to help her develop the skills and insight she needs to survive this tween age and all that comes after. I know I have made many mistakes and there will be more to come, but as long as she still communicates with me (even about little things) I can believe I am still in the loop.
Let it be a good life.