And then there's my twelve year old...
I have three kids in three very different age groups. The youngest is two, and a firecracker. She climbs everything, gets into everything, repeats everything, but her biggest problems can be solved with a simple kiss and a hug.
My middle girl is five. She is very inquisitive. She asks lots of questions about how things work, and why things do what they do. She also listens to adult conversations when you think she's not and interjects her philosophical opinion. She has become an excellant (and exhausting) tattler and most of her problems can be solved with a kiss or a forced apology from an unsympathetic two year old.
And then there's my twelve year old. I think this one is trying to kill me.
"Have you seen the girls?" Innocent enough question that sent my heart racing with fear. Jasmine was supposed to be at her friend's house down the road. They asked to come here to get a movie, but never returned. "And I can assure you, they are no where in between my house and yours." The friend's mom said. They had been gone over ten minutes for a trip that should have taken five.
Could they have been kidnapped? Two preteens kidnapped at once seemed unlikely. The only logical choice was that they snuck off to somewhere they knew they weren't supposed to be. I headed off down the road to look when I saw Jasmine heading my way. Her friends mom had been driving around in her car and seen them. She conviscated her daughter and sent Jasmine on her way home.
"Where were you!" I screamed at her even though I was fairly sure of the answer.
"I was...we were just.." She faltered. She knew she was caught and was trying to decide if lying would get her in less trouble.
"Are you fucking stupid! You are twelve years old! You NEVER take off somewhere and not let an adult know where you are!" Jasmine looked shocked. It wasn't the swearing that threw her for a loop, but I was yelling at her in front of the neighbors. I usually try not do that to save her embarassment, but today I didn't care. I was so livid.
She and her friend had snuck off to Trevor's house. Trevor is the boy Jasmine has a major crush on. She is obsessed with him. I don't know him at all, but I know his family. To put it nicely: They ain't a pretty picture. And to make matters worse, Jasmine is not allowed to date and she and this kid are acting the part without all the boyfriend/girlfriend terminolgy. Not cool in our book.
Dating or "going out" is not what it used to be. When I was in Jr. High there was hand holding and maybe sitting together at lunch. Now, Jasmine's friends french kiss, feel up, and sit on their boyfriend's laps at the back of the movie theater. There was also a pregnant girl, but they shipped her off to another school so she wouldn't cause an epidemic. Pregnancy, it seems, can be very appealing for the lipgloss peers and spreads like lice at a preschool.
My daughter is a follower, not a leader. She wants to be liked, wants to be like everyone else. She goes with the crowd and is totally afraid of what her friends think. She's been in trouble a lot this year. More than she ever has before. Each time it involved sneaking and lying and not being where she was suposed to be. Until she can develop sense of autonomy, be comfortable enough with who she is to be able to protect her integrity, I don't want some raging testosterone fueled boy anywhere near her.
She knows our reasons for the no dating rule, even agrees with them, but she feels left out. All her friends are given many freedoms that I didn't even have in High School. More freedoms than kids this age can handle. Twelve year olds can't be expected to make wise choices about sexuality and drugs. They are simply not mature enough to say no. Hell, most adults aren't. Yet almost all of her friends are left to their own devices after school and on weekends. As long as they are home by a certain time, their parents don't care where they go.
That's not me. And that's not me, because I know my kid. She's not ready to say no. She's not in that space in her head that will allow her to make the right choice, even if it's unpopular. She's just not there yet.
So, she has rules. And she's unhappy about it. "Jasmine, you have all the rules you've earned." I told her. "If you don't like them, you need to step up and prove you're ready for more resposibilty." She nodded and wiped her teary eyes. I have no idea if that sank in this time or not. I often feel like I'm talking to the proverbial brick wall. I just keep reminding myself that I'm doing what I think is best. I'm not her friend, I'm her mother. My job is to raise her up and get her to adulthood with a good head on her shoulders.
But being the hated one sucks. Big time.