My kids are growing up. This is no surprise. So far I am really enjoying my kids getting older and more mature. My oldest is 12 and overall I like the age, this pre-teenage stage. Sure, she can be a sassy pants, and she is a bit too full of herself sometimes, especially if she has a friend in tow, but she is funny and kind and seemingly well adjusted for a middle schooler.
But it can't be denied that she is changing. Her friends are taking a more central role in her life, which is normal and good and as it should be.
Unless you are her younger sister.
My middle daughter, age 9, is a rock. She is good natured and a good listener and smart and interested in the world and typically lets things roll of her back. The poor dear sleeps in the only downstairs bedroom, which is even lacking heat. Does she complain? No! She loves her little subterranean cave. And prides herself on never being cold. "Maybe just one more blanket, mom," is about as fussy as she gets.
She and my middle schooler are close, traveling together as they do, from my house, to their dad's house, back to my house, etc. They are together twice as much as they are with either parent. They are their own little family within a family.
I have no doubt that they will grow up to be extremely close friends. The kind of friends that only sisters can be. (Of which I have no clue, seeing as I have no sisters. But Jacquie and Ellie totally know what I'm talking about. I think.)
But right now? Well right now is a little rough. Right now there is a lot of fighting and hurt feelings and meanness. Jacquie told me that her girl, who is friends with both of mine is quite impressed with my girls' fighting. (I'm pretty sure you could substitute horrifyingly amazed or completely freaked out for the word impressed.)
It can be quite a show. And it's worse, of course, when there is a friend around. My middle daughter is no longer the only playmate in that situation. She is second string for sure, and it can be hard.
I went down to tuck her into bed Sunday night and found her crying into her pillow. She rarely does this; I was thrown off, and of course asked her what her tears were about. After hesitating for a bit she admitted that she was sad because her sister didn't like her anymore, didn't want to spend time with her anymore.
It was a bit of an exaggeration, but there was some stone cold truth in it, and the disappointment and loss that she was feeling were palpable. She felt so left behind and alone. I held my tears for her back, and told her it was normal and nothing she had done -- that her sister was headed into the early teen years and that we might not recognize her for a while. Well, this was so helpful, that she re-burst into tears and sobbed, "I don't want her to grow up!"
Oh my fucking god, I thought, I'm not sure I do either! You have a point, my girl, you do! How many more months will she beg to sleep in my bed? Or tell me that she misses me, or want to paint my toes? How many more days until she's too cool to play monster with both sisters, or build a fort, or dress a doll for her youngest sister?
We are going to lose her!!!
It really hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt my girl's pain, her sense of being left out, left behind, too little, abandoned, but also realized my own, the real truth that my oldest's childhood is fleeting, at best. And that there is no going back.
Where the hell is Peter Pan when you need him?