It seems like only yesterday I was changing diapers, watching Little Einsteins, getting ducks in a row for kindergarten, and shopping at Carter’s. Those days are lonnnnnggggg gone now. It’s a little bittersweet, but not sad. I’m not as exhaustED, but it’s exhaustING. Even though we’ve all been tweens ourselves, it’s hard to mentally prepare for entering tweendom with your own female spawn…
1. Ear buds are the next fashion accessory.
“HUH?” she says in a distant voice, nose pressed squarely into her iPod Touch. It’s the third, OK, fifth time you’ve called her name, and even though she’s a mere five feet away, it’s taken more than a few squawks of her name (at increasing decibels) to finally catch her attention.
Ear. Buds. Those audio listening devices get plugged into ear sockets after school quicker than Katniss volunteers as Tribute.
2. Minecraft … Minecraft … Minecraft …VIDEOS
When she was younger, playing Minecraft was an obsession. Now playing the game is a distant memory (except when her little brother annoys her enough to play one game together), and watching Minecraft YouTube videos is a near addiction. Stampy. PopularMMOs. Ssundee. The Diamond Minecart. The list could go on. I’m thankful every single day for ear buds, even if it means me yelling over and over to catch her attention (see number 1), because grown-up ears can only tolerate “HELLLOOOooooooo!!! This is STAMPY!!!!” so long (like, once).
(Note: Equal numbers of make-up and hairstyle videos, too!)
3. She’s my best friend. She hates me. We’re friends again.
This one took me a little while to understand. One day my tween declares Susie as a bestie, and a week later she swears Susie is a sworn enemy. “What happened?” I ask. “Nothing. I just know she hates me. No, mom. She really does.” Then another week goes by and the world is suddenly all sunshine and daisies again. Phrases like, “I’m sure it’s nothing,” or, “Well, that’s too bad,” have become my best friend, because this too shall pass, I’ve learned.
4. Can I shave my legs?
I swear when I was in school, girls were well into middle school before they started shaving. And yet, my daughter started asking to shave her legs when she was 9 years old. I put it off for a while, saying things like, “Oh, you don’t need to yet,” which, as you can imagine, worked like a charm. Not.
Then at 10 years old, during basketball season (a.k.a. shorts in winter), and after a snarky remark from a tween boy about leg hair, she asked again. I thought back to when I snagged my mom’s razor (without asking, of course) and used it to shave my own legs – dry. Razor burn like you wouldn’t believe; it hurt like H-E-L-L.
So, embracing the fact that not only did she ask me (winning!), she also didn’t try to sneak my razor (winning again!), I decided that it’s her body, her choice. And there you have it.
5. Can we watch Hunger Games together?
An upside to having a tween girl? There are SO many of the same movies that you both want to see. A downside to having a tween girl? There are SO many of the same movies that you both want to see. Sigh.
6. Mom, can I have a hug?
She’s not a little kid anymore, that’s for sure. But a tween girl hasn’t reached full-on don’t-touch-me-let-alone-look-at-me teenage stage yet either. Random hugs in the kitchen, goodnight kisses before bed, snuggles on the couch – they’re all still fair game. I’m trying to savor it while it lasts.
7. Opinions and wit.
The baby, toddler, and preschooler stages are exhausting. They are. What I wasn’t prepared for, however, is the mental exhaustion of having a tween girl who’s not only opinionated, but also quite clever and witty. I often find myself doing a dance with her over certain decisions we’ve made. She doesn’t necessarily agree with them, and makes a pretty damn good case for her side. It’s draining. And impressive. Also? I’ve realized she’s a lot like me. Imagine that.
8. She LOVES babies.
Tween girls looooove babies and toddlers. I see our friends’ faces light up when they see my tween enter a party; they know she’ll swoop up their 2-year-old and keep him occupied the whole time we’re there. “Sweet! We get a break for a couple of hours!!” I know in her heart my daughter wishes we’d have another baby, except nope. Two’s enough. D-U-N, done.
9. Early to bed, late to rise!
After so. many. years. of 5 a.m. wake-ups (I don’t miss those at all!) sleep is something that everyone in our house has finally grown to appreciate. My tween still goes to bed relatively early at 9 p.m. (OK, closer to 9:30 many nights), but guess what? She SLEEPS IN. Like, doesn’t surface from her room until close to 9 a.m. most weekends. That means I get a couple hours to myself with coffee (…and her little brother) on Saturday and Sunday. And even when she does get up? She requires no attention from me for another couple hours after THAT. The days of needing to bring the “A” game at the crack of dawn are over. OVER.
10. It’s THROWBACK time!
Those late-’80s styles I remember so fondly from my middle school years? THEY’RE BACK. From off-the-shoulder shirts and My Little Pony™ appliqués to endless reruns of Full House, every day I’m flung back to that awkward (yet endearing) time of my life as my daughter finds the next best thing that, “OHMYGOSH, MOM. You won’t believe what Kimmy Gibbler just did!” Yes. Yes I can. Been there, done that.
Sure, my tween girl may test my patience from time to time. She may have also perfected the eye-roll and the, “Yeah, buts…” However, there’s no denying she has a good heart! I applaud her “can do” attitude and willingness to try just about anything, with loads of inspiring confidence that I hope she never loses.
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