Tweendom: And So It Begins.
Today, Sassy and I went stand up paddleboarding (SUPing) and it was fanfreakingtastic. We woke up and had just enough time for breakfast (coffee and a peach for me, nutella sandwich and OJ for her) before driving over to the beach to sign in and get our paddleboards. She was nonstop excited about doing it for the first time. When she first got on she said she was only going to kneel and paddle, but after .5 seconds she got herself on her shaky hands and knees, lifted herself up, and never looked back. “This is AWESOME mom!” “I love that we did this today!” “This is my favorite day!” “LEt’s race!” “Thank you for bringing me here!” These were all the things I heard from her in the hour we SUPed together. And my heart was full.
This is my girl right here. Always has been. While the other two older kids dove headfirst into tween and then teendom, she remained my faithful sidekick. There’s nothing she didn’t want to do, as long as we were doing it together. Clothes shopping? She’d hold the clothes for me while I browsed. Food shopping? She’d point out what she wanted and we’d plan what meals we could make with it. Errands? We’d do them arm in arm, making each other laugh to pass the (boring) time. When all of us went to Death Valley, the older kids stayed at the campsite reading and napping while she and I hiked the shit out of the trails. She didn’t bat an eye when it was time to wake up to see the sunrise. “Please never change!” I thought to myself on our adventures. “Please stay my girl forever!”
This year she turned 9, and I’ve been skittish ever since. I put myself into a little self denial about her body growing stronger, taller, and a little curvier. When she proudly pointed out her first pimple, I convinced myself it was from getting too much pizza grease on her face rather than changing hormones. When she started sleeping in later and later I chalked it up to being so active during the day rather than a biological shift. Because one thing still remained…she was being so nice to me! No eye rolls, no overt criticism of who I was as a person, no earbuds in the ears as soon as we got in the car.
And then…this week…I can’t deny it anymore. It’s happening. Tweendom is claiming her as it’s own.
Damn you tweendom! Get your mitts off my kid!
Two days ago I got a beer out to have with dinner and she gave it one look before saying, “Oh of COURSE you are.” and then I was all, “of course I am what?” and then she said, “of course you’re drinking alcohol” and then I was all, “I know, I always have a beer with dinner!” and then she said, “of course you do.” And I didn’t know what to say because I’ve never had my beverage of choice criticized like that.
And lately when I joke around with her, being stupid silly, she doesn’t laugh. She looks right through me and then away like I’m some sort of court jester that displeases her.
Even worse, she doesn’t want to see the sunrise with me anymore. Nor does she like to go on errands. When I reach for her hand, she pulls it away. When I play my music she tells me how horrible it is.
She’s definitely infected with tweendom. In fact, after we got back from our magical day of SUPing, I said to her, “Thanks for coming along, I had the best time!” and she said over her shoulder like a transforming Dr. Jekyll into a Ms. Hyde, “Well I didn’t really have a choice did I?”
“Well, ya, you did. You always do! I asked if you wanted to go, and you said yes, and then you said it was the best day ever! So did you have a good time or not?!”
“well, I guess I did” she said before going to play a video game.
I took a deep breath. I got this. I’ve done it two times before. I fell back on what I know about this fucker tweendom.
*it’s them, not me. I repeat this over and over as my own personal mantra.
*it doesn’t last forever. Only 3 long, torturous years.
*don’t take anything personally. I understand that the hormones be crazy and so I like to pretend it gives them situational tourettes or something.
*this is what friends are for. My friends give me unconditional love and support. When my kids are tweens they just give me headaches. I complain to my friends and try to maintain mindful parenting with my kids.
*this is what gives me perspective. My kids are destined to fly the coop and have their own lives. This tweendom is what makes me start to be OK with it.
*walk the walk. I always say I want my kids to be open, honest, direct, and vocal about their needs. This is awesome when they’re being awesome. It’s not so great when they are telling me my music sucks. But freedom of speech and freedom of feelings still applies, even when I don’t like what they’re saying/feeling.
So this is it…for a while I’m going to lose my girl, my partner in crime, my left hand man. She will dive deeper and deeper into tweendom while I grin and bear it. When she eventually emerges like her older sister did, she will be a young woman and she will be her own and she will be fiercely amazing. We will spend time happily together, and go on hikes to see the sunrise, and hold hands again, this time infusing the connection with her own personality and stories. I will be wiser about what I wish for, and I will think to myself, “Please always grow and change! I promise I will be here to be patient and listen, because nothing you do will ever change that I love you and you are my daughter forever.”
In the meantime, thank heaven and earth that there are good friends and good beer available 24/7.
“Hey, Sassy! Are you hungry? Do you want something to eat?” I asked her.
“No.” she replied while firing up Skyrim.
“Alright then. I’m just gonna be outside with a beer.”
“Of course you are.” comes floating out of the other room in what I now understand is her equivalent of an eye roll.
Bottoms up, tweendom. May I survive you one last time.