Late Night Musing: Growing Up is Hard on a Mom
It’s an hour after midnight. My mind isn’t at rest. I have things I need to accomplish including fulfilling something that doesn’t have a real deadline. However, in my hyper active journalist-trained mind, it’s way overdue. I could be using this time to complete the task. Instead, Bob’s Burger is serving as my background noise as I partake in late-night online retail shopping.
The items I’m contemplating over aren’t for me. It’s for my not-so-little-anymore-daughter. I’ve come to terms that my daughter is on the threshold of entering her teens years. Well, she may not be at the actual threshold yet, but she’s a few paces away. This past March she turned 10. I am the mother of a 10-year-old. I haven’t figured out what this means, but I know what’s coming.
Puberty is easing in. Friends laugh at me when I proclaim to them “I’m not ready!” It’s not a joke. I’m really not ready. At 37 I wonder if I have my own stuff as a woman figured out before I go passing on my “wisdom” to her. For the most part she’s still a kid. I’m savoring every bit of this time. Never a girly girl, but slightly a tomboy, at this stage she is enjoying being a “gamer.” Anything dealing with Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog gets her going at the moment. She’s becoming of fan of Japanese anime thanks to the game Yo-Kai Watch and it’s partnering anime series.
Side Note: As someone that use to watch a few Japanese anime series I know how graphic that fictional world can be, but I’m making sure she stays on the very tame kiddie side for now.
She fusses a bit when I have her put on jewelry if we’re really going somewhere special, and in the end she always likes the look. Then, like clockwork, the earrings come off once the special day is done and we’re in the car coming home.
She loves (smooth) jazz music and some classic R&B cuts. I’m finding out she has a knack for and a strong interest in science. She’s currently taking up tennis and finds that she enjoys it. She longs for quality time with her immediate cousins, but it’s truly a task when they live far, with only a few that live close by. She begs me to take her out more on her bike, to which I confess I suck at that. While she claims she wants to help out around the house, like a budding a teenager, she’ll start to slack off when the tasks pile on and everything starts to feel like actual work.
Overall, she is the good kid and courteous, but we’re also reaching a stage where her emotions are shifting and re-shaping (in another word — maturing) and I’m starting to see the pre-teen. Think of the movie Inside Out, which was excellent in focusing on the changing emotions of an 11-year-old girl. Yeah, that’s my 10-year-old.
I’m reminded of her “leveling up” to another milestone as I shop for items to redecorate her room. Not that her room is baby-fied, but I was adamant about not having a TV in her room until she was older. My mother, in grandma mode, would pester me about putting a TV in my daughter’s room. I would always have to remind her of the timeline of my childhood.
3rd/4th Grade: TV in the room
5th Grade: VCR in my room (along with Nintendo game console)
6th Grade: My own telephone (This was only because my grandmother, who had a love affair with the J.C. Penny Catalog, ordered a telephone for me that I thought was way cooler than the Mickey Mouse phone I often fantasized about having. She got me a phone that lit up when it rang.)
I’ve now decided my daughter is old enough for a TV to be placed in her room. This calls for a new piece of furniture and possibly a new TV just for her room. Some things will have to be ditched and whatever gets to stay will be rearranged.
Along with the physical changes I see on her, this step in re-doing her room is making me nervous. She already asked me what age will she receive a cell phone. Before I could answer she quickly said “probably not until I’m 16.” I thought to myself, I can’t even think about that. I’m too busy trying to block certain YouTube videos from her and guiding her on proper, kid-friendly websites to explore. I’ve taken measures to block wi-fi access on her Nintendo 3DSxl so she cannot access the function of where she is chatting with strangers via their mii characters.
I’m not ready to unleash her to the (grown) world, but I remember what it feels like to be a teen and wanting certain freedoms. I’m not ready to try and navigate this. I’m definitely not ready to have the in-depth sex talk. I remember by the time I was in 8th grade, my mom, a former health teacher, passed along text books and pamphlets her students would get. One text book in particular was very thorough about human sexuality. I studied that book and its 1980s diagrams on the human body (both female and male). I not only learned that my menstrual cycle is (suppose to be) 28 days, I learned about PMS, what happens to both females and males when sexual aroused, birth control options, the rhythm method and STDs (that was accompanied by grotesque pictures of chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes and HIV/AIDS). There was also a small unit on how sex is meant to be for pleasure but as the pictures in this unit only showed faux married couples and families, you got the hint sex was only to be had within such confines. Otherwise, you’re doomed to contract a STD and die or get pregnant before your time.
Honestly I don’t know where to begin to have the sex talk with my daughter. Wait, I still have that text book. Shall I pass it to her? When she was in kindergarten, we did have the talk that her body is hers. No one is to touch her body. At that time I had some exceptions — me, her grandmother and aunt — when helping her with something. Otherwise, her body is her own. She understood this and it stuck. That part was easy.
Once when I looked at the history of a few YouTube videos she watched, I noticed a couple were very questionable. It was one of those things where it looked like it was kid friendly, but the adult content was one click away. Anxiety hit me; “what do I do? What do I do?” I simply blocked them. Then another time I noticed one of her search terms simply said “sex.”
I approached her about it and asked her did she have any questions. Scared to speak up, she clammed up. She told me no. I asked again while adding in that she could talk to me about anything. I sucked down imaginary vomit as I said that. I couldn’t deal, but I wanted her to ask me anything. I figured it would force me to be ready. Still, she shied away from asking. I left it alone.
I notice if she is in the room and when a (non-explicit) conversation about sex comes up she closes her ears. She did so today… errrr… yesterday… as my mother and I were having a conversation and mentioned the word “sex” in reference to a person’s gender. I had to let her know we weren’t saying anything dirty. In a flash I thought about a girlfriend of mine who grew up Pentecostal and once told me, because of the strictness behind being Pentecostal, she did not know what sex was until she was near grown. Dear God I don’t want that to be the fate of my child.
So as I sit here picking out a TV and an additional piece of furniture for her room, what flashes in my mind are all things associated with being a teenager, including boys and sex. Is it wrong that I pray for her to be a teenage nerd? A cool nerd that can be respected. I pray she remains studious and that sex will not even be a factor until….ok I’ll be fair and give her college…maybe.
Soon it will be her prom season, then instead of picking out furniture for her room at home, it will be for a college dorm room. Then I will probably really be scared; for her safety moreso, especially if she is away from home.
I promise you, I’m not the helicopter mom or the really extreme over protective mother. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried that the grown up world waiting for my kid has me on edge when I really give it thought. I need a stockpile of Middle Sister wines to get me through the teenage years.
*Proceeds to check out the TV and furniture*