Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Never never land

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?


Bree at Clarity Defined said...

Oh man Beth! I haven't even met your older girls, but this had me near tears. Call that Peter Pan RIGHT NOW!

(As an aside, as the older sister by three years, but the middle child - I totally see BOTH sides of this. Tell your girl that they'll come out okay on the other end. :))

Pat said...

so well said! I bleed for M.
Love, Nonnie

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Aw. Poor Little Ms. M.

Twelve seems like a really critical year -- they don't call 'em tweens for nuthin' -- and only one of them has arrived.

But I can vouch. I can vouch! It just gets better, with sisters. Just ask Jacquie how awesome it is having *me*.


Me, You, or Ellie said...

p.s. Just love it, Beth. So lovely.


Me, You, or Ellie said...

Aw, Mer. There's comfort in knowing she's so close behind this shit storm. I think? Sorry if the bigs are causing woe. love all our grills.


Mom C said...

Girls, girls, girls... I had 5 sisters and 6 daughters... I should be an expert. I'm not. No-one is, but I will tell you they will eventually be best friends, count on it.... love, Mom C.

sister and mother in Central PA said...

I feel for you and your girl(s). Not only did I live through this as the youngest of 3 girls, but it has been a rough road as the mother of 2 girls (16 and 13) The saddest part at the moment is that now the older girl wants to do nice things for her younger sister and the sister doesn't trust it and rejects it. I got nothin'
I know they will one day work it out, but I share M's desire to sob about it.

Noelle said...

The thing to be so grateful for is her ability to articulate what she is feeling and why...that is the thing to hold onto that lets you know everything will be alright....WOW! You are doing a great job guiding girls!