And Now I Have A 12-Year-Old
Today Sophie turns 12.
It’s exciting but mostly scary and bizarre.
Frankly this date has been looming a bit. 12 is such a weird age. Some of them look so grown up already. They need to wear a sign reminding people – BRAIN NOT FULLY FORMED YET. NOT EVEN CLOSE.
As I’ve been contemplating this new phase of life (the last year or so has been eye-opening to say the least), I find myself panicking. Does she know all the things I want her to know? Even just a little? Have we talked about ALL the stuff?
The answer is no. And I know time is now very much of the essence. The world is breathing down her neck and I’m horrified.
And nearly helpless.
Thankfully we have been doing a few useful things:
Tight-knit family and friends.
I had no idea how true the whole “it takes a village” thing was, until we had a village helping us raise our kids. We have lots of family close by. This means grandparents and aunts and uncles who are very involved in our kids’ lives. It means casual dinners with them, and a little fan section at games and concerts. It means more people my kids are accountable to. And I’m thankful for that.
This is not reality for lots of people, though. What if family is not close?
I think this is where a church family and friends step in. We have this too. People with whom we worship, who see my kids out in the community, and who my kids can look up to and learn from. We’ve welcomed other moms and dads into the lives of our kids, and it means my kids feel like they are a part of something.
Even if they don’t realize it all the time.
By the way, none of the people on this list are perfect. We didn’t interview them to see if they qualified. They are human and friendly (most of the time) and they care at least a little about my family. That’s enough.
Some consistent expectations.
I am certainly not the queen of consistency. It’s definitely the number one mom-guilt struggle on my list. BUT, there are some things we are consistent on. We aren’t all going to be consistent with everything, so all lists will not be the same. For us it’s regular meals together as a family, the homework question asked right away after school, and sticking with our commitments. There are others, but those are a few that I believe have helped things work half-way decent. We try to keep talking about what’s happening and what we are worried about and the good things too. I know these will serve us well in this new phase.
Lots of God Discussions.
This is the part that includes going to church and Sunday school and trying to do devotions before bed. Plus we have lots of hard conversations about understanding God and how there are so many questions we can’t answer. All of our kids ask all the deep philosophical questions about eternity and salvation and Jesus and we entertain the questions. We admit to not always knowing, we explain as best we can, and they keep asking them. I think this is a win.
I have to comfort myself with a list like this because, as I said before, my oldest turns 12 today. I’m at a loss. Frankly I’m in over my head and we all know it. But you are too. Between the level head on her shoulders and the GRACE of God, I think she will be ok. Well, I know she will because she has Christ and that’s really the bottom line.
Still I worry about the details. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. So the other day I asked myself the question – What is it I’ve wanted to teach my daughters and that I will continue to strive to teach them? Here’s that list:
- Have self-respect. This means knowing you are smarter than you think and stronger than you feel. It means you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing without checking into it first. Have some self-respect.
- Intuition is a real thing. You have it.
- Be confident in who you are – you are Christ’s. No matter what.
- Respect your body, and respect other people’s bodies too – girls and boys. We are all made wonderfully. And while we are crazy strong, we are also incredibly delicate. Respect all the bodies.
- Do not ever let someone disrespect you without recognizing that is not ok. Hitting you. Yelling at you. Calling you names. Pushing you into things. = NOT OKAY.
- Friendships are important. So so so so important. Value your friends. Encourage them. Build people up. Don’t tear people down.
- It’s ok to like boys.
- But don’t settle on someone who can’t make you laugh or doesn’t think you’re amazing. AMAZING.
- There are LOTS of guys out there. I promise.
- It’s ok to be emotionally hurt by someone. That’s normal and painful and part of life. Sometimes we screw up. Sometimes they do. Pick yourself back up – after a bit of a pity party – and move on.
- Don’t get AT ALL physical with a guy until you are at least in high school. No kissing, no nothing. Trust me. It will just give you hives of embarrassment when you think of it 10 years from now.
- No sex before marriage. Unless you are ready to have a baby. Which you aren’t.
- Whatever you do with a guy now will follow you the rest of your life. It will haunt you. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
- If you feel pressured by a guy to do something physical with him, and you don’t want to disappoint him, STOP. You don’t want to disappoint who? Call Hannah* right now.
Ok. So Jesus, intuition, respect, confidence, advocate for yourself…. Alright. That’s a start.
Ponder these things as we all do, growing girl. And keep pondering them.
Do your best. I’ll always love you.
*our older, wise cousin we look up to but whose still super cool.
What would you add to this list?