There is a phenomenon happening in my home right this minute and it is called MY PRE-TEEN. If ever I thought the season of bonding, secret telling, and laughter at the dinner table would last forever, my firstborn has set me straight. It was temporary and it is over. For now at least. My pre-teen comes home every afternoon, lugging her 40 lb backpack full of all the middle school things, grabs a bag of chips from the pantry and jaunts upstairs to her room. Any hope of conversation is met with a sigh and a one-word response. I am obviously inconveniencing her by speaking to her. If I’m lucky, we’ll chat at dinner, but more often than not, it’s bedtime before we really connect about the day.
This is the parenting trade-off we’ve heard about, isn’t it? For years, we pray our babies will learn to sleep past 6 am, and then they grant our wish, and we never see them in the morning anymore. Which makes us sad and I dare say, nostalgic, about the younger years. We want our children to be independent of us when they’re clingy and anxious as littles, and then they become self-sufficient (sort of) and we freak out. My own daughter’s entrance into her teen years is perfectly normal: the craving for privacy, a deep desire to debate, the distancing, her irritable attitude at home. Did I expect our bond to be so strong that this phase would bypass our relationship? Um, yeah. Yeah I did. So while I am handling that disappointment, and my pre-teen is busy managing hormone changes, friendship dynamics, increased academic challenges, technology boundaries, and general uncertainty of life, I can choose to continue to pour love and acceptance over her and pray it sticks.
One way I can keep our connection in tact is finding creative opportunities to spend time together. Because my girl is a ball of creativity and loves art, I look for activities that inspire her. Last weekend, we took a calligraphy class together with Jodi Macfarlan and had a lovely morning sitting side-by-side for a few hours. Calligraphy isn’t exactly a collaborative effort, but because we were sent home from our workshop with all the artistic tools, we can now practice together. If she ever decides to leave her bedroom. Sigh.
Listen mamas, these pre-teen years are tricky. Our babes don’t know where they fit. They spend so much energy pleasing their friends at school that they just don’t have the emotional capacity to give much more to us at home.
Stick with ’em.
Let them know they are safe.
They’ll come around and when they do, they’ll likely apologize for everything they put you through and thank you for loving them anyway.