Friday, December 4, 2009

Apparently Seven is the new Thirteen

Those of you who know me on Facebook have seen me recently complaining that Sofi has entered the teenage years waaaaaaaaaay ahead of schedule. My sister (who is all Conspiracy Theory these days) says it's from all the Rbst in the milk we drink. I suspect it's just being an only child for so long has accelerated her development. I imagine my mother would call it Karma. Except she might be more tactful about it than that.

All that aside, what I really need to know right now is how the HECK am I going to survive the next eleven years? Or let's be optimistic and assume that I can continue to home school and she graduates at sixteen and we'll say nine years.

Oh Lord have Mercy.

Going back to my mother for a moment... She was really great during the teenage years. I look back now and I honestly don't know how she was able to keep a straight face during most of it. Or a sound mind either, for that matter. I wrote poetry as a teenager, people. And I cried. Every day. For different reasons-- none of them very good, really.

And now I find myself having passed on the Extreme Teen Gene, but without having inherited the Dealing with Teens Gene from my mother and I'm in deep do-do.

Last weekend, in an attempt to build bridges, we went to get a "grow-up haircut". She's getting too "old" for pigtails and braids, so I helped her pick out a nice layer cut, chin length and then we bonded over a soft pretzel. It looked nice, we were happy, the pretzel was tasty.

And now. Now she spends a majority of her free time in front of a mirror brushing it as flat against her head as she can, wetting it down with water and plastering it to her scull because she doesn't like "all the fluffy and the curly-- it needs to be straight and smooth, Mom."

This morning I curled the ends under for her and she wept WEPT afterwards when she saw all that luscious volume-- volume that grown women go to extreme lengths to procure for themselves. And all wasted on a seven-year-old teenager who thinks smooth and straight is It. And then, as she flounced around the bathroom bemoaning her "poofy" hair, she whacked her head into a shelf and BAWLED. Real tears pouring down her face. And I just laughed so hard!

I know. Bad mommy. I tried, really I did!

And now I realize how hard it is going to be to let her grow up into her own person, with her own likes and dislikes and opinions and preferences. Very hard. I want her to be me. Me, but better. Me with all the parts I don't like about myself ironed carefully out and replaced with the parts I like about J. But she isn't me. Not at all. She's Her-- something new and different and beautiful that God has wrought. It's very sweet and very hard to have a daughter.

So, Mom, in case you're reading, I want to apologize for the bright purple pansy pantsuit in ninth grade. I now know how much it must have cost you to let me go out in public wearing that and I appreciate it. And thanks for reading all my poems and not laughing at me. And if you want to do it all again, you can have Sofi for the next nine years....


Hosanna said...

Oh, it'll be longer than nine years, or 11 years, dear. What, your'e just going to say "bye, see ya!" when she graduates High School? Naaaaah. You're stuck with her till you marry her off, sister! And unless you have a little boy in the wings you're grooming to be her match, you could be stuck till she is 19. Or 20. Or 21............

Jenny said...

LOL...I'm in the same boat...and somehow just being hard-headed about stuff with her isn't working so well at this point. (And yes, I realize we're a few years behind you, but I swear, we're catching up fast!). She back-talks me and has the same attitudes I had at 13! I can't decide if I'm dreading the teenage years (usually, I really like them, but it's all about the relationship you've built before that, and I've never built one like this before from the beginning!) or looking forward to them when she can carry on an intelligent conversation and actually understand reason (she IS her father, too, thank the LORD!). But, I swear if she sticks her nose up in the air, sniffs and slams the door as she's going to her room one more time..........

Gramoni said...

Hosanna, you are wise, way beyond your years! I don't have to ask how you know these things. At most of your family gatherings I see four generations present, and soon to be four in ONE HOUSE! Wow! That gives perspective!

Karma--if by that you mean, you're born, you work, you get sick, you die--yes, it's karma. But Susi is not way-out with her hormone theory. I've read that puberty in this country is happening as early as 8, as opposed to 11 when I was growing up. And there is evidence--and much more specultaion--that it is due to our fat situation in this country as well as the meat additives. We are a hotbed of chemicals the side effects of which we know nothing about. But one thing we older folks can see just by looking is that kids are growing up physically much earlier than they used to. A natural corollary is that they are also growing up emotionally at an earlier age, since hormones control both.

J's comments about advertising stimulating kids toward advanced maturity is also worth considering (as you know).

Thanks for remembering me positively during that time as you went through it. I never laughed at you. I took you seriously, being not much beyond it all myself. I remembered how very important a time it was for me, with my sanity in the balance, in fact, my whole life being able to continue. I didn't want you (or any of your siblings) to suffer or feel lonely. Loneliness and a feeling of being so different from everyone else that you simply can't be understood, let alone loved (hence the poetry--which was, by the way, in your case, a step toward excellence and artistry in writing, not a joke--you wrote good stuff, with much thought, and philosophical perspective). Love is what everyone wants, no matter what the age. You can't go wrong if you are staying in touch with Love and learning how to give it---even when you feel like you need to get it more than give it (as in wishing she'd drop all the hair-fussing and just be a normal loving 7-year-old, look up into your eyes, reach up for a hug, and be comforted. No, no it's the WORDS now, Mommy. EXPLAIN life to me).

Well, I'm glad you decided to post on this. I enjoyed reading--and writing, as I think teenagers are my favorite people and the topic gets all my mental energies stirred--better than our intended phone conversation. Thanks.

Herb of Grace said...

I know I'll be "stuck" with her for longer than nine years, I'm just assuming that once she goes to college, things will even out a bit. Actually, more realistically, she'll level out emotionally much earlier than that. I think by the time I was 17 or 18 I was a little more bearable. Right, Mom?

Seth and Karen's blog said...

Wow, Lisi our first born daughters must be related somehow. I laughed out loud as you described the "hair incident" not just from the humor of it, but how it sounded so incredibly familiar! Katrina's hair has been a constant source of tears, agony and struggles for the last 5 years. (If you recall, she was born with a full head of thick ringlets and it never fell out. Only got longer, straighter, and thicker!)

I am in agreement that there are chemicals and hormones in the meat and milk we ingest that does affect the body negatively. However, my wise husband is always there to make sure I remain moderate when I begin to freak out and try to go to the EXTREME. (Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. :)

Katrina is a 5 year old full of girlish emotions and the understanding of a preteen, but the maturity level of a 5 year old. Thus, she feels deeply and has difficulty controlling and expressing those feelings maturely. I'm totally not excusing her actions, just realizing what is going on behind them. Seth always, always emphasizes keeping her heart rather than forcing her to bend to our ways. (Although he does require obedience in everything. His means of going about it is a lot more compassionate than I would use.)

I find myself doing exactly what you mentioned trying to make my children develop all the good qualities Seth and I have and expel all our bad ones from each individual child. I know it's wrong, yet I am subconsciously guided by these thoughts many a time. Thankfully, the Lord has given me revelation to see that each child is unique in the truest sense and I should only try to mold their conscience, changing their sinful character into Christ-like character (as much as we can without their personal acceptance of Christ and His power in their life) , but not to touch their personalities, which are wholly a reflection of our wonderful Creator.

Keep us posted and please give tips and words of wisdom for us mothers who will soon be following in your footsteps.

Debbie said...

Oh mercy! Yes, I'd say you are in for a long ride now.
But, think of the great posts you can get from it.

Herb of Grace said...

Oh, and btw, Hosie, only ONE boy being groomed in the wings?? Come on... you know me!!

Susannah Forshey said...

Karen, I love that you wrote about Seth on this topic. My understanding about this comes more from my perspective as a young girl than as a mom with experience. Here's my take: Women need men. Little girls need their Daddies very, very, VERY much. At the earliest age, the flyaway hormones and girlish flightiness and sass takes pause in awe and respect of the calm, masculine strength of a father. Some of the sweetest teen and pre-teen girls I've seen have been in very close relationship with their Daddies. (Think, Smuland.) I already feel that Violet is at a point where she is almost "up to here" with learning things from just me. I have a strong sense that she and I feed off each others' emotionalisms, and we BOTH need our man very, very much! I hope that Ben can be around to infuse some of that calm, quiet spirit that is so needed in the teen years for girls.

canningmama said...

I. Love. Your. Post. I KNOW Savannah is going to be the same way. "sigh"