Thursday, October 04, 2007

Three of five

Slouching Mom's third question, in a series of five.

Susie is on the cusp of adolescence. Are you ready? Is she ready?

Slouching Mom's got adolescence on her mind, I think. Her son, who is right between my children, is just starting to seem a little less like a little boy and more like a little man. I've been dealing with this situation a little longer (maybe a lot longer, because girls truly do start growing up before boys) and no longer find it shocking.

To be honest, I'm loving the beginning of adolescence, from my vantage point, anyway. Susie is a very sensible, down-to-earth girl who doesn't generate much drama. The physical changes of puberty have been explained to her (in our church's sexuality education program, but also by me, and in a fantastic book that every girl should get when she turns nine, The Care & Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls) and she seems to embrace those changes. When she noticed that her body was changing, she asked me if it was possible for us to go bra shopping. In the same tone she would use if she needed new shoes.

We've also talked about the emotional changes. We started that conversation when she was just a tiny little girl, when she caught me crying as I read Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. She asked me why I was crying and I told her that it made me sad to think that one day she would be so grouchy and mean and wouldn't like me very much, but that those things are pretty normal when girls get to be that age. She sweetly hugged me and looked into my eyes and told me, "I'll try not to be like that." And I knew that she, in her four-going-on-forty wisdom, indeed would try.

That being said, she has definitely become more sensitive as she's approached puberty. It's easier to rub her the wrong way. It's easier to make her cry. It's easier to get on her nerves. Fortunately for me, it's easy for me to bring her back to the sun.

She's always been my golden child. As a tot, her skin would develop a beautiful golden tan in the summer, while her hair was highlighted from playing outside. She looked like she was made of gold to me. Her disposition was sunny, her laughter infectious.

As she's grown, she's retained that sunny disposition and delightful laugh. Her skin still tans, but it no longer stretches over chubby baby skin. Long, strong limbs have grown from those chubby arms and legs I remember so well, only ten years before. Her hair no longer bleaches blonde from the summer sun, probably because of the purple, blue, or pink streaks we've applied. A few little bumps have scattered on her face, reminding me of my own face, years ago, but also of that newborn acne she had only a few weeks after her birth. (I remember reading in one of the many baby books I read that newborn acne is a protective rash because it keeps parents from taking their baby all around and showing them off. I wonder if adolescent acne isn't protective in a similar way...keeping those fragile tweens from being too perfect too soon.)

Her brain is different, too. Keener in ways. Understanding jokes better. Making jokes better. Making connections. Even understanding the difference in how I explain a math problem and how her teacher explains a math problem (and knowing that if she has a problem with math, that she should ask me for help because she understands my explanations). She understands social obligations better, and has taken it upon herself (she and another girl at school) to help the two boys in the class who have learning problems.

She's also started noticing cars and has some strong feelings about BMW convertibles. Don't even ask me where this comes from. A strange recessive gene is the best I can imagine.

It's interesting territory. I wouldn't trade these years for anything.


slouching mom said...

What a beautiful answer. Thanks. I feel somewhat reassured now. ;)

Kristabella said...

My mom's answer would be a lot different from this. Me and puberty were not friends. I still apologize to my mom for those years.

She sounds like a wonderful kid. Which makes sense. Since she's your daughter.

Great post!

kalisah said...

I'm like you. My Kid is such a good-tempered sort, I feel really lucky and can generally accept the eye-rolling and forgeting to call home and the other minor inconveniences of teenagedom b/c thank god he's not skipping school and getting in fights and doing drugs.

alan said...

HAHAHAHA Maybe the next time you're here when the weather is nice, we'll rent a BMW for an afternoon :D

Mrs. G. said...

My lovely girl is turning 17 in January. I heard so many horror stories from just about everywhere about what a nightmare tween and teen girls can be. I have to tell you, we've a had a couple of days I wouldn't choose to repeat (and, interestingly, most of them had to do with automobiles and driving them), but, all and all, it has been a blast. Enjoy all these days with your daughter because, man, it goes fast.

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