Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Rites of Passage or Mothering a Junior High School Daughter (God Help me now!)

I wanted to be a Zombie, but Mom made me pretty instead
Last week, at least in my mind, Manudo looked like this on Halloween.  All that was important was being pretty or scary, getting lots of attention, and KNOWING that Mommy would always be there to take care of her.  She was always a unique child, even from a very young age.  Manudo is one of those kids who doesn't do things on a linear slope, she does them in peaks.  She has always been this way!  She went from not walking or crawling to RUNNING, at 9 months.  She never jibber jabbered, she spoke in sentences, before she was 1.  She is like this in school too.  I will be all worried about a poor grade in a course (I don't know if online grade reporting is a blessing or a curse at this point), only to be surprised and delighted when she aces the final exam.  Yes, this causes me lots of worry and trepidation, because I can't predict any achievements based any sort of a curve for her, she either gets it 100% or doesn't get it at all.  And just because she doesn't get it today, doesn't mean in a day she won't have 100%.  It drives me absolutely bat-assed crazy!

This past week has involved many rites of passage for both of us.  She and her team won 1st place in her cheerleading competition after a very difficult, heart wrenching (for mom, think mean girls), exhausting, thrilling, and "political" 4 months of 5 days per week practice.  She was THRILLED.  Then, she had her first dance at her Junior High School.  In years past, Manudo has always been the child who wants to be something scary and totally  made up for Halloween (above picture notwithstanding, since she was too young to pick then).  She has been scary witches with warts and green skin, zombies, and skeletons......so perhaps my mommy spidey sense should have went off when she said she wanted to go to her dance as a "pretty witch."  But it didn't.  Manudo has never before expressed any interest in boys, attracting boys, or being around boys.  She was still in the OMG, Boys are Gross stage....last week. 

So, being the Cool Mom I am, I proceeded to go out and get her lots of "pretty witch" accouterments.  She had gorgeous glittery false eye-lashes, eye make-up, lipstick, etc....I also spent about 45 minutes styling her almost to her waist hair.  It was a lot of work, and she looked gorgeous.  She kept hopping up and looking in the mirror, was asking all kinds of questions about make-up application, and was very critical if there were any smudges or the like.  She kept asking how I learned to apply makeup, how hard is it to curl hair, and other beauty routine related questions.  It was also the very first time EVER she didn't scream like a howler monkey when I styled her hair....Still, I was clueless. 

She asked me, specifically, to take her to the school for the party/dance.  On the way there, she is asking me all sorts of questions about my first dance experience.  It was quite the challenge to recall 100 years ago when I was in Jr. High, but I dredged up some memories about first dances.  You remember the girls on one side, boys on the other...waiting with bated breath as a very cute Jake Ryan looking boy traversed the 100 miles of gym floor thinking: "Is he coming towards me?  What will I do if he doesn't ask me to dance?  What will I do if he DOES? OMG, he is coming towards me, for real, I hope they play Stairway to Heaven, cuz it is like 8 minutes long" times?

As I shook myself out of my reverie to the past, I noticed she was very fidgety, anxious and nervous.  Being still clueless, I said, "Are you nervous?  Why are you so nervous? Sit still, you will mess up your hair and get glitter all over my car!"  She then proceeded to ask, in a very tiny and timid voice, "Mommy do you think the boys will think I look pretty?"  I was totally speechless and felt this odd prickling feeling behind my eyelids, and right then I was back in junior high with that feeling when the boy did not ask me to dance.  I wanted to turn that glitter covered car around and put my intelligent, beautiful, and for the first time ever self-conscious daughter in some footy pajamas, make her some hot chocolate and read her "Goodnight Moon" for the 1 millionth time.  Instead, I told her that the joy of dances is there are lots of boys there so if one doesn't like her, there is a high chance that another one will for sure.  She then said, "but what if "he" doesn't think I look pretty"....and I almost ran over the cop directing traffic in and out of the school for the kiss and ride line.   I told her that if "he" thinks she looks pretty in school, then "he'd" be blind and dumb to not think she looks pretty right now! And I felt yet more prickling behind my eyelids and realized that I was dropping my (in my mind) 3 year old daughter off to be ogled by nasty pubescent wolves!  As we pulled up to our spot in the line for her to get out, she opened the door, hesitated for a second, then got out.  Before she shut the door, she looked at me, and in her voice still reminiscent of when she really was 3 said, "Thank you and I love you Mommy." 

The prickling became a floodgate and I bawled the whole way home....without my daughter.  But I guess, even at 12 her most important things about Halloween this year were: Looking pretty, getting lots of attention, and knowing that Mommy will always be there to take care of her!

P.S. She texted me after the dance and said "he" thought she looked awesome.....

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  1. You need a kleenex alert on this one!

  2. This was awesome Nic!! Brought tears to my eyes reading it. God help us all I say!! So how did the dance go??

  3. I am now a blubbering mess!!! I guess I'd better get ready for this moment...it may sneak up on me, too. Great post, Nic.

  4. I cried.
    I took my Grade sixer to her first dance... She couldn't run out of the car fast enough. She is a clam right now, but I keep trying to share some of my history with her hoping it will encourage her to spill. I loved reading your tale and loved the Pretty in Pink reference <3 swoon
    - Dar

  5. Great sentence: "I wanted to turn that glitter covered car around and put my intelligent, beautiful, and for the first time ever self-conscious daughter in some footy pajamas, make her some hot chocolate and read her "Goodnight Moon" for the 1 millionth time." I can still do this with my just-turned three-year-old but I can feel the clock ticking down. Waah!


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