Sunday, January 26, 2014

Tween girls are not for the faint of heart

Raising tween girls is hard.


Like grainy black and white photographs showing anguish and despair will memorialize it in the history books one day.

(Moms of teen girls, please don't tell me it gets harder. I don't have the intestinal fortitude to face it, yet. Moms of tween boys, I'm ignoring you. I am sure it is difficult, but I have to teach someone how to shave her legs, use a maxi pad, tweeze her eyebrows! I win; please tell me I win.)

Today was one of those days, not mine, but a friend's: her girl had shown out and suffered the consequences. My girl was the witness; the mom swearing my baby girl had no part in it; but even then....I was with my fellow mom.

The frustration. The fight. The fatigue.

Oh the fatigue.
Raising tween girls isn't for the weak. It is late nights, hours of hair straightening that end in a huff because "you (mom) can't do it right." Cheer competitions, volleyball practice, history projects. It is the Friday night when the sleepover friend cancels. And that is just two days.

Tween girls out-pace us; they have youth and hormones on their side fueling them at a frenzied pace. Us moms trailing behind. Grateful to just be able to sit down.

The frustration.

I knew baby girl's look, the "I-wonder-why-the Lord-made-you-so-stupid" look; I had seen it before. I had worn it before. We were taking selfies; it was supposed to be fun. Silly. It turned ugly quick, just as she clicked the picture. And I saw that look. Immortalized on my phone. I then saw my own face. The middle-aged version of her look, the "you-utter-one-more-word-and-you-will-get-to-ask-the-Lord-in-person" look staring back at me. I sent it to my mom. She laughed at me. I know she did.

Later, it is the creaking door after she's stormed off, peering out and then walking over to the couch and sprawling out, her feet in my lap. The I-don't-like-you-but-I-need-to-know-you-still-love-me test, so I rub her feet. The silence softer now.

The fight.

She is strong willed, that girl of mine. Quick witted.

(Everyone who knows me is smiling. The story of almost getting kicked out of kindergarten because I made such a fuss that there were only 5 girl letter people still makes the rounds.)

Strong willed. As my husband says, "An apple tree can only grow apples."

I have seen here work at a tumbling pass until she gets it. Tired, bruised, sweaty. Victorious.
She has long done her own projects: drawing her own reading fair illustrations, cutting her science fair pictures, a plan formed in her brain, flowing through her hands, wanting no help from anyone.

It is a National Geographic moment when we square off: the young lion jockeying around the alpha, wanting to take the throne.

But there is only one Queen Bee, and I am it. Even in defeat, her learning how to be a grown-up, that lesson best taught by those who love her.

I once asked my mom how old I was before she knew that we would both survive my growing up. She didn't miss a beat, "27."


I almost panic in those moments because I am old and tired, and I long to lie on the couch watching SVU and reading blogs. I have told my husband that we won't make it though this parenting gig. Someone will discover our withered remains huddled together in a corner, like relics from Pompeii.
Occasionally I have thought we should put all the tweens on some abandoned Survivor island and let them go Lord of the Flies. A pick-up scheduled for the week after their 28th birthdays, just in case 27 isn't really that magical. My husband tells me this is probably illegal, and that I would be sad without my mini-me. And because he is wise, "Anyway, they would figure out how to get off the island and combined they would take over the world." So blog-reading and SVU will wait for today.

Yesterday, she told me she didn't eat breakfast, then asked me what I had. I told her that her stepdad and I had gone out for doughnuts while she was at practice. She shakes her head, "So this is what it has come to, Mother?"

And in that moment, my cub and I smile at each other. And twenty-seven seems a little too close.

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