Tag Archives: tweens

Lessons on Love

My youngest, Miss Drama, does not have a phone or tablet of her own. She uses my phone to sometimes text her friends. It didn’t occur to her that since it’s MY phone, I’m totally going to read what was said.

For all you men out there reflecting back on your adolescence and wondering what girls said about you, well, it was pretty much this, and some of my friends’ spelling was equally bad and they couldn’t blame it on auto-correct.

 

According to the texts, her friend has a crush on a little boy, but clearly beauty is in the eye of the beholder because Miss Drama just isn’t seeing it.

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But back to her admirer….

So class, what have we learned? The way to a 10 year old’s heart is to be funny and not have a triangle head, and maybe not to go overboard with saying “you’re hot” all the time and trying to “protect” your crush when she doesn’t ask you to. That gets you named a “do do bird”.

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La la la…I can’t hear you!!!

What one word inspires instant embarrassment in Miss Drama?

Puberty.

I had her captive in the car with no one else, so I took the opportunity to ask if she had questions. She’ll be heading off to middle school this fall and this is about the time I had the talk with her brother and sister.

She got very squirmy in the back seat. “I know everything!”

Uh-huh. When I quizzed her a bit, she did indeed know the basics, but was highly relieved to discover that babies cannot spontaneously sprout from her eggs.

When I asked her if she understood what sex was, she stuck her fingers in her ears and gave me a very eloquent reply, “Lalala.” Her brother and sister squirmed too, but wanted to fact check what they knew. Miss Drama hasn’t gotten there yet.

I dropped the subject, letting her know I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable, but if she had questions, she could ask them whenever.

Fastforward a couple of days. I woke to cthulu calling from the deep through our pipes. Sewage water backed up in both bathrooms. Gross. The plumber is on his way.

I gave Miss Drama instructions not to flush or stick toilet paper in the toilet right now. Not long after she informed me she opted to pee in the litter box instead.

Better than the yard?

Oh the blackmail fodder she hands me!

Somehow, I don’t think dating and sex are going to be important topics for her for a long while yet.

 

 

 

Middle Mania

So, the past few months has had me in the middle of a lot of chaos. My advisor changed schools, the announcement of which happened right when I was about to take my oral candidacy exams and there was a slight debate about the timeline of my dissertation.  That was resolved, finally.

Then, the school year started. While I hunted for data and filled tables and wrote really boring science stuff, my middle child started middle school.

In all her years of school so far, she’s been my independent child. Suddenly my low-maintenance child is requesting help with EVERYTHING. My sister, who teaches middle school, assures me it is a common phase which will pass, but it drives me nuts. While things appear to be waning, for awhile every night it felt as if I had middle school homework.

For full disclosure, I hated, loathed, and despised middle school. In all three years, the only thing I really liked was choir and the fact that I finally made a few friends. I did my time, so to speak, and having to muddle through pre-algebra again is not my idea of fun. It isn’t the math that is tedious, so much as explaining things over, and over, and over, because Miss Diva has misplaced her confidence.

I sympathize. I do. Twelve is a tough age, but it is tough for her while it was hell for me. She’s pretty, popular, and an excellent student. I was gawky, a social outcast, and criticized for that excellent student status. Everything I did was wrong, so in many ways, it gave me a freedom I didn’t know I had. She’s a sweet child, but at times I see the girls I went to school with– the ones that treated me like less than dirt. She worries about her hair and nails, about looking cute and not making mistakes. For me the challenge is teaching her to find confidence and independence that will last a lifetime while learning to share some of her interest, even if I’m only doing so for her sake.

So, I let her do my nails, even if they are totally not my style. I take her shopping, even though clothes shopping ranks pretty low on my “List of ways to have fun”. I also check her math homework when requested, but there may be a glass of wine or a mohito involved. I got through three semesters of calculus, differential equations, and statistics. I can do pre-algebra even when buzzed.  I can even do math while I write or inform Miss Drama that baths really ought to be a habit and tell Mr. Smarty-Pants that no, he cannot be online until he’s passing ALL his classes.

Have I mentioned Mr. Smarty-Pants is ALSO in middle school? Yes. 8th grade. This is his last chance before high school for him to get his act together. He’s trying–mostly. He had all A’s, aside from the big fat F in literature and a D in Science. He’s nearly brought the D to a B. I’m not sure much can be done with the F. If he’s passing by the end of the quarter, that’ll be a miracle. On the bright side, he finally has a teacher that gets it. He’s lazy if it isn’t something he likes.

I think he was Tom Sawyer in a former life.

The silver lining in all of this? Mr. Smarty-Pants will be in High School before Miss Drama gets to Middle School.  Then again, Miss Diva will still be in Middle School, so maybe that’s more like a brass lining.

But MOM!

Not long ago I let the eldest two minions onto one of the social sharing sites that’s popular with the kids. While Miss Diva has approached it with interest, as with most things, she’s kept a fairly level head. She spends a bit of time on the site in the evenings, has only posted a couple of pictures of herself, and sticks to things like her nails, funny cat pictures, and videos of our chickens etc. She has no problem with our agreement of me having open access to her account and her friends do not view me as a creepy stalker-mom.

Parenting is never that easy.

Right away Mr. Smarty-pants got a bit too carried away with his posts. The number of bathroom selfies with his perfectly brushed hair threatened to break the internet.  The little girl who showed her adoration, and a distinct lack of intelligence, and the other numerous girls, I do believe went to his head.

Why do I claim she lacked intelligence?

Girl- Your mom is following me!

SP- Yeah. I know.

Girl- How?

SP-You just told me. (insert smart-ass comment about me longing for youth)

Girl- But, how does she know me?

Me- <facepalm>

Even though I had no idea where anything was on the site, I figured out in under a minute that by going to my son’s “followers” I could then send follow requests to them. Anyone can do that. No one has to know you. Still think I’m being harsh?

After about two weeks and a hundred cringe-worthy posts, Mr. Smarty-Pants listened to a friend from down the street and “blocked” me.

He seemed to forget that I used my email to set it up, which meant when I figured out what he’d done, I simply locked him out of his account. I unblocked my account as well.

He had the gall to later reset the password, as unbeknownst to me, my email was logged in on the tablet he’d been using. Then when I spoke with him on the phone informing him he was in trouble and that I’d posted this on his account:

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He got attitude and had the balls to curse on the phone, although his bravado was very short-lived. I deleted his account and informed him of such afterward while I was grounding him that evening when I got home. After dinner he came up to me, all meek, with that whipped-puppy look.
“I’m sorry. You can keep the account deleted.”

“Well, of course. There isn’t an UNdelete. We’ll try again when you’ve shown you’re more responsible.”

Since then, some things that he’s said and his apparent unconcern now that the account is gone lead me to believe that he was socially way in over his head and is actually relieved he has an excuse to avoid all of it. He caves to peer pressure like soggy cardboard under a brick. He isn’t as “adult” as he likes to pretend.

When kids are toddlers, we think nothing of imposing boundaries, and in fact the experts reinforce that bad behavior is simply children seeking boundaries. I think sometimes people forget that when kids get older. We begin to see little adults and take comments personally, rather than remembering that they are still kids who are more bluster than anything else.

I don’t take it personally– ever. I sometimes get mad, but more often, I’m doing my level best not to laugh at them, especially when they think they’ve cleverly gotten something past me. Yeah, sorry kid, better luck next time.

I rather expected a sullen, grouchy kid, but he’s actually more himself than when he was online interacting with kids whose parental oversight I seriously question. It isn’t always fun being mean, but they thank you for it in one way or another eventually.

I think I failed

I think I failed. Somehow, my kids are well balanced, socially adept children. I was a wallflower nerd whose social life involved extracurricular clubs, mostly of the academic kind. All of my kids are smart, but somehow, they’ve skirted or outright avoided the social misfit status I held. Of course, for Miss Drama, it’s early yet to make that call. If she doesn’t learn that showers should be more frequent than once a week, she’ll belong to the circle of kids even I steered clear of– the smelly ones.

Miss Diva informed me she no longer liked Pokemon or anything else that might mistakenly label her as a geek. I think I died a little bit inside. Of course, I admonished her on how she shouldn’t change who she is just to fit in, but I think my words fell on deaf ears. She’s the pretty AND smart one that most of the boys secretly crush on. She knows she’s got the whole shebang, and she hasn’t even got boobs yet. There are days I think she would be the girl I’d want to be friends with, but who would likely never even notice I existed, or worse, laugh when one of her crueler friends made fun of me. Miss Diva isn’t cruel. She tries to be nice, but I’ve noticed she wants to fit in very much. I have a diminishing window of opportunity to teach her the value of standing out rather than blending in.

Mr. Smarty-pants eschews geekdom and nerdom as well….at least in public, usually. Ask him about history and he might forget his emo, nearly teen, faux angst and prattle on excitedly about some ancient historical battle. Still, his idea of a “rough day” and mine when I was his age are totally different. For me, every day was rough. I got to pick between  getting spit on by the disgusting little boy or fielding overly personal questions from another in science class.  In another class, boys would taunt me or poke fun when a story in English class made me cry. Older girls called me gay. I didn’t even know what it meant. Jealous kids called me teacher’s pet because they envied the 100 average I had in history class.

When I picked Mr. Smarty-pants up on Friday he said he’d had a rough day. “How so?” I asked.

“Ten girls wrote me notes.” He flashed one at me. Will you be my boyfriend?

Wow. Poor him. In all of middle school, high school, and college combined I didn’t achieve that number. I failed to commiserate properly. I think I snorted. He knows he doesn’t need a girlfriend and that I would go out of my way to embarrass him if he attempted to have one. I informed him I’d go on their “date” with them. He can date when he has a job to pay for it and his own transportation.

Miss Drama got up cranky, barely finished putting her shoes on before we arrived at school today, and had a minor melt-down as she proclaimed she hated school. Now that I can relate to.

 

Taking Notes

Rearing kids results in a daily test of my poker face. With my elder two on the doorstep of the teen years, I’ve been getting all manner of questions related to sex, dating, and the vocabulary of said topics.

The other night I was asked by Miss Diva what “sixty-nine” meant. I was well into my twenties before I’d even heard of that.  It’s possible I was nearly 30.

I gave her an answer which provided just enough information for her to “get” what it meant without the details. She’s not quite eleven. I don’t think she needs that much information yet.

That same night Mr. Smarty-pants brought up the subject of porn. I have to admit, I think I failed the poker-face test on that one.

Yesterday, at the grocery store, Miss Diva asks what a b-job is and what the “b” stands for. My inner self cringed. Of course she picked the grocery store to ask this question. I try not to do the “we’ll talk about it later” thing, because they are reaching that age that if you brush them off, you might not get a second chance to have an honest discussion where they are truly listening.

I steeled myself and explained in my best quiet voice. She asked about relationship advice too, for the future.

Mr. Smarty-pants interrupted. “Why do you keep asking Mom about all this stuff you hear? You’re too young for all this.” {Says the child a whopping 22months older.}

Miss Diva retorted, “I want to make good choices when I’m older; not like Mom did when she was young.”

Ouch. True, but ouch. On the plus side, she believes I’m making good choices now. I think I am. My life isn’t falling down around my ears, so I take that as a good sign. Even better, I think she’s taking detailed mental notes. I only hope she remembers to reference them after the hormones kick in.

Meanwhile, Miss Drama skipped merrily ahead in search of candy or other junk food for which to beg. At least one is still very much a little kid. I’d say innocent, but this is Miss Drama, the child that pretends you can’t see the gum she “didn’t eat”, so we’ll go with uninformed.

From Tomboy to Diva

They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. In this case I think I’m a cross-pollinated fruit tree then, because while Mr. Smarty-Pants is most definitely very much like me, sometimes I look at the other two and think, “How in the world???”

For starters, I was a tomboy. At Miss Diva’s age my favorite activities involved building stuff with Legos, wrestling with my brother, reading books, and playing make-believe with anything from GI Joes and trucks to dolls and stuffed animals. I wasn’t particular. While the dolls were “girly”, as were some of my romantic plot lines (yes, I crafted intricate melodramas for my cast of pretend characters even back then), on the whole, I wasn’t a girly girl. I enjoyed pretty things, but only when it was convenient.  There was a time for dresses and attempts to keep pretty bows or barrettes in my hair, and a time for kicking my little brother’s butt in wrestling, and the latter was usually far more entertaining. If he and I found some sort of experiment to conduct, like making baking soda and vinegar fizz in the sink,  even better.

Miss Diva has been fascinated by all things fashion since she was three and tried to critique my wardrobe not long after learning her colors. She’ll spend tons of time playing with her hair and takes longer than I do to dress, and she hasn’t even reached the make-up stage yet. She does her nails almost daily. I do mine once every few months for about a day, get annoyed with the nail polish that refuses to stick to my nails, cut them short again and don’t think about them again for another few months. She loves shoe shopping. I like shoes, but loathe the process of finding ones that fit.

She avoids working up a sweat if at all possible. I enjoy pretending I’m beating the crap out of bad guys while I’m practicing karate, or going for bike rides, or hiking.

Miss Diva wants to be an actress and/or model when she grows up. For a child who was once a shy little girl, that’s a BIG change, but not a surprise. I started off shy too, and agree that the stage can be an amazingly fun experience. However, my idea of a rewarding career does not involve me parading different clothes for people. Where’s the mental challenge in that?

As she nears the teen years I find it easier to relate to my son than either daughter. Miss Drama is in a league all her own. In fact, I think she often resides in her own world and only comes out to interact with us when she deigns. As for Miss Diva, in many ways, she’s polar opposite of the child I was and even the woman I’ve become. We bond over things, sure, and I find ways to connect, but sometimes the things she focuses on boggle my mind.

In a few years I can picture her shaking pom-poms and being the cheerleader that every boy really wants to date. She’ll likely have a number of friends, and achieve at least some popularity. Maybe I’ll be wrong, but I don’t see the awkward wallflower that I was. I’m glad she’s not as likely to feel as outcast as I once felt, but at the same time, I feel even more compelled to impress upon her the deeper meaning of life, beyond the shallow surface of looks.

In some ways it would be easier to relate to an awkward, insecure, misfit, but somehow I managed to instill self-confidence with equal parts intelligence and looks in each of my kids. For their sake, I’m rather glad it’s worked so well. I’m not entirely sure what I did. When I figure it out, I’ll let you know.