Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Mothering My Preteen

Life is hard when you’re not quite eleven and your little sister is babied all the time and your dad yells at you a lot and you are forced to eat food that is good for you even though you get plenty of snack-type foods after the good stuff has been consumed.

I say this with no sarcasm. It really is hard to be almost eleven and feel like everyone likes/loves your little sister more than they love you.

It’s also hard to remember that you’re bigger than your sister and can do more damage to her if you land on her after doing a cartwheel right next to her and she moves while you’re mid cartwheel.

Life in our home is loud these days.

The girls get rambunctious. Tom gets annoyed. I get frustrated and tears often fall.

Alyssa and I have been spending a little more time together, though, as she comes to me after Tom has scolded for her an infraction and she feels picked on.

I remember being the big sister, the one who is expected to be smarter, stronger, more responsible. I remember still feeling little even as I yearned to be all grown up.

I remember experimenting with makeup and wanting so badly to be glamorous. I also remember feeling like the whole world (or at least my mean parents) were against me all the time and it was just so unfair.

So yes, Alyssa and I are spending a little more time together. We’re cleaning her room together, I fold laundry while she tells me her latest stories. I listen as she talks about the kids at school and yes, I even hug her when she feels like her dad is being unbelievably mean.

I don’t think I’m undermining him when I do this. I hug her and tell her that I understand her feelings but then I go on to explain why he’s frustrated with her current behavior. I remind her that sometimes, she does get a little loud, or rough with Olivia, or yes, even sassy. I tell her that it is our job as her parents to guide her behavior and that even though she’s amazingly good at school, it really isn’t acceptable for her to come home and be all grouchy with us.

I gently suggest that when she’s feeling her most ouch she find her way to her room for a little alone time. I remind her that sometimes we all need a break from each other and that’s okay. I hug her tighter and don’t let go until she lets go.

She’s a great kid. She can just be a little rough around the edges sometimes. And there are times when I think that’s perfectly okay and don’t rush to smooth those edges. There are other times when I know she needs a little extra soothing and I step in, pull her close and remind her that I’m there, that she can lean on me when things are harder than she can handle.

It really is tough to be a preteen. I get that and so I’m trying to make it a little easier on mine. In so many ways she’s still just a little girl.

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