Monday, April 22, 2013
There is an outright war in my house. Much like the Cold War of decades ago, this war is fraught with obvious sides and yet a battle that just bubbles at the surface once in a while. Soldiers exist, the battleground is set, but one of the sides wants to pretend as if there is really nothing to be concerned about. Look away, nothing here folks, move along. I don't need to tell you that is NOT the side I am on.
This is a 12 year old child we are talking about. A beautiful girl in every way. Many parents of the half girl/half teen breed we call 12 are trying to keep her from being 16. From acting and dressing 14. Anything to keep her interested in friends and sleepovers and dolls and not makeup and sex and cigarettes. I have the exact opposite problem. My sister left her son's old stroller at our place during her move and I swear my daughter won't stop looking at it. This is not good.
The crux of my problem is that I am raising a garden variety only child. Somewhat introverted, likes to make up her own dimensions and hold drawn out plays with characters in her room, does great in school, beloved by students and teachers alike.... Is so well behaved it is remarked on every week... was and is still given a license to act like a much younger child by grandparents who'd like her to stay young. So what is the issue, then? Why am I not over the moon with this creature and her well behaved, grandmother- loving, doll-playing amazingness?
I am......except what you don't see:
THIS KID REFUSES TO BE TWELVE. She has it in her head that she is somewhere between 6 and 8 with occasional visits to 4. With a side of super privileged. There is a constant dependency that is not really needed at this particular place in her life. I am expecting some snarky back talk and instead I'm getting alerted to the fact that she is going to use the master bathroom. Uh, ok...didn't need an update but thank you. I understand pre-teen and teenager laziness and attitude, I don't quite get this "I don't want to hold my own cup, can you hold it?" bit that takes place (in public)!
My kid is defying the rules of aging. If we bottle her, we'll all be rich!
So I did the unthinkable and asked her what was going on. I got her patented move back. The dead stare at my face. She can hold this a long time. Do not go to bat with this kid, y'all. You will lose. I implored as to what might be the reason that she was acting like me asking her to take care of her things- (dust and clean up in her own room)- was some sort of punishment. She believes it is. Does she know her friends all have chores and take care of their own stuff? Yes, that is true and she gets that. Um, well does she realize that we all have to contribute to our own well being and clean up after ourselves (especially when we are 12!)? Um, yeah...but she thinks this could be done, perhaps.. by a maid.
What?! Yes you read that right. She wants a maid.
I proceed to find out- has she ever met a maid? Does she know anyone who has one? Do her 12 year old friends sit around and watch maids clean? No, no and no. Where did this idea come from you ask? Well, according to my dear child, she just thinks it would be a good idea. I shit you not. This conversation took place.
I am desperately trying to get her to realize that at this age, she needs to take care of chores and be responsible for her actions and remember her own school deadlines and sports clothes and water bottles and she is internally fighting me to get back into a crib and watch through the bars as someone vacuums the rug underneath her. The reality is that I will not win this war at all. In fact, once it is over she will remain oblivious that we were ever fighting it. My allies are other parents' nightmares: her friends. You see, the realization is starting that it seems strange and weird and not all that cute when you are acting like a baby in middle school. That pressure is turning the tide in my direction.
I don't want her to be a grown up yet. But I don't want her to be a baby. I know she has lots of experience at being babied by well meaning relatives, but I will be very glad to see this phase come to an end. Honestly, I think she will, too. The self confidence that comes with autonomy is really needed to defend yourself in your teens.Then we can move on to fighting about how short that skirt is and WHY IS SHE WEARING MASCARA? I'm way more prepared for those...