Monday, October 29, 2007

If I could spin a cocoon....

I would wrap one tightly, securely, insistently around my daughter. Just like a caterpillar she is undergoing a transformation. Sometimes dramatic, other times more subtle, always mesmerizing, amazing and frightening at the same time. I'm not always sure what my role should be or what to expect at the end, so I'd like to cocoon her and tuck her away in a safe place until she emerges miraculously as the butterfly she is meant to become.

I've said this before to any poor soul who will listen to me, but I really hate that middle school starts at 6th grade here. I don't think she's ready. She's still so small, the 8th grade boys tower over her. She is only just barely beginning to develop but insists on wearing a bra because she has to undress in the locker room and needs that tiny little undergarment for security.

And it's not just the physical differences that I am on the constant lookout for. She's much more focused on her social life this year. She's had a cell phone for the last year, but I've had to take it away twice in the last month for excessive use. If I gave her free reign, she'd rack up more minutes the rest of us combined. She's even more boy-crazy than before and unabashedly so. It's very disconcerting for a parent. I'm choosing my battles, and so far I think I'm winning more than I'm losing, but I just may be losing my sanity in the process.

Her social ambitions are now being reflected in her grades. In elementary school, she was used to being the queen bee. She garnered the attentions of both her classmates and her teachers effortlessly. This affection, and lack of having to work for it, was reflected in her school performance. She was able to focus more on schoolwork and was rewarded handsomely by her teachers. She basically only needed to show up, smile, pay a modicum amount of attention and she coasted her way through the introductory phase of her education.

Now she is realizing the harsh reality of having to work to reach goals. There have been a few disappointing test scores and quiz results. The notion of actually studying in order to do well is a jarring wake up call. To both of us, really. I've always taken for granted the fact that she is intelligent and I didn't expect that would ever change. I guess I hadn't thought to factor in the hormonal impacts of puberty. The fact that, for her, a math quiz just isn't as exciting as the upcoming dance or that being able to spell "occurrence" correctly isn't as satisfying as having That Boy talk to you.

Puberty. What an ugly word. It's turning my child into an almost unrecognizable being. Not to say she's been perfect to this point. This little person has always had her own ideas, her own agenda about her life and is always pushing the boundaries of her small existence. If this translates into her ability to stand up for herself and her beliefs and not take "no" for an answer, then I will be very proud indeed. But when I am the one saying "no", it's a somewhat bitter pill to swallow. Asking her to fold the laundry results in an eye roll, denying her request to spend the night at a friend's house turns into a 10 minute attempt at negotiation to get her way. It's exhausting sometimes.

I have to admit this isn't my favorite part of parenting. I'm not fully prepared for this phase. It's a little like that dream I have where it's finals time and I haven't studied all semester so I have to go in and just wing it. I wing it a lot these days. I guess she is too. She's just trying to find her way in the world and I need to step back and give her some room to grow. She's actually a really cool kid and I have to trust that at least that won't change about her.

It would just be so much easier to wrap her up and hide her away until I'm ready to let her fly out into the world on her own.


Little Things said...

I feel your pain. My daughter just started high school and is much like yours, only more so. Sigh. I have no advice other than to keep her talking to you.

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