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Posts Tagged ‘growing up’

Starting School

I dropped my daughter off at her first day of First Grade today and, though she was utterly fine, my heart felt heavy as I left the school. Not because I’m concerned about her school or teacher but because, my God, my baby is growing up! Kindergarten still felt like preschool to me: lots of play space, singing and dancing, and doodles to bring home. First grade, with the desks, workbooks, and the pencil cases, threw me over the edge. It feels like she’s on the fast track, now that first grade has begun, and soon she’ll be stuffing her car with books and music iPods, pillows and pictures and heading off to Godknowswhere while waving out the window…to a sobbing mother. I need to grow some thicker skin, or I am going to be a constant embarrassment.

Being an American, and not belonging to a particular religious sect, I am always on the look out for ritual, tradition- activities that make specific times significant and special. Like the first day of school. Following American tradition, I took my daughter out yesterday to go school supply shopping (though she didn’t need anything).  Though she LOVED picking out a notebook and buying a pencil sharpener, I am, as usual, looking for more. I just called up a couple friends who’s children just started first grade as well, and invited them to join us for an after school popsicle party.  That’s a little better– at least it doesn’t take place in a store. But what else can we do to celebrate starting school… and growing up.  I would love to hear if you do anything special for your children at the beginning of the school year, or if you have heard of any cool traditions others do. Do share!

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Six Going on Sixteen

I stepped out of the shower this evening to find my six year-old Sunshine face down in her bed sobbing, “Nobody likes me!” She wasn’t crying to anyone; she didn’t even know I was standing there. She was crying to herself, into her pillow. Painful flashbacks rattled me into motion.

After calming Sunshine down from sobs to tears, it became clear that the reason she felt that nobody liked her was because her new BFF had left to go camping with her family for a week, and there were NO other girls around to play with. “Why would Jasmine leave me?”

Now, granted, it was 5:00 p.m., our witching hour, and she was cooked from a long day of hard and fun play (with Jasmine before her traitorous departure), so I knew she was feeling a little more sensitive than normal. I held her and listened to her, and reassured her that Jasmine loved her, as did many, and would return to her soon. After a short pause and some sniffles, she broke out into fresh sobs, “What if a grow up to be FAT?”

Mom sits up and looks at her girl. GIRL. This is not a teen, or even a tween. She’s six, for God’s sake, and should be thinking about snakes or dolls or unicorns–something other than her figure.

teen2.jpegRight?

The confusing thing to me is this: where is she getting this? We don’t have Cosmopolitan mags lying around, or even Vic’s Secret catalogues. Neither Hubby nor I talk about losing weight or being fat, or any of that image stuff. I haven’t heard any of her friends talking like this. They don’t watch commercial TV, and we don’t live in L.A. So what gives? Is it ingrained in girls to be self- conscious about their bodies and looks?

I remember, when Sunshine was like nine months old, hearing a someone say that at the age of 6, parents get glimpses of adolescence because it is a time when children are struggling with increased independence, AND that the behavior usually disappears until around 12 years old. Then hang the F on.

So here we are, and while I’m fumbling along with, “Honey, you’re beautiful, smart and special, no matter how your body looks” and “Isn’t it nice that everyone looks and thinks so differently- that what makes this world so cool!”, Tiernan rolls her eyes (well, tries to roll her eyes) at me, and sluffs off. But, by God, what am I going to do in ten years when she no longer sluffs off to her art table to draw it out, but rather gets in her car (without haven given me the time of day) and drives to her friends house where they will talk over cigarettes, diet pills, and eye shadow about how to be perfect?

I need books. I need preemptive adolescent counseling. I am so not ready for this.

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