I've witnessed some really major changes in my daughter over the last couple of months. She is definitely making the transition from little girl to bigger girl (which is my way of saying the thing I do NOT want to say - which is pre-preteen (yikes!)). Also, I kind of hate those terms - to be honest.
Due to a series of complicated events that were happening with Brother, we thought it would be best for him to move up a grade from two to three - in the middle of the school year. To further complicate things, he would have been moved into the same class as Sister. All involved - Sister included - knew this was NOT a good idea. It was suggested by the school admin that perhaps we could move Sister up to grade four. She is the "right age" for that grade level and she is doing very well - meeting and exceeding expectations - in grade three... So let's give it a go. Of course, we consulted with Sister and Brother about all of it as well and they both agreed. Sister was quite reluctant because her confidence level was a little low.
For example, when she recently discovered that she was being graded and given report cards (I'd never told her about it for obvious reasons* - what's that? not obvious? Okay, I'll add a notation at the bottom.) - right: report cards. When she learned about the letter grades, she automatically concluded that she would be getting a C in math. Which was ridiculous because she's never gotten less than an A. When we got home and I showed her the report card for the previous term and she saw all the As including the math grade, she was genuinely surprised.
Like I said, low confidence.
We all agreed to allow for a one week trial period with total take-backsies if they wanted out. Daddy and I held our collective breaths as they each started in their new classes - in the middle of the freakin' year.
Within the first few hours Brother knew he was happy and wanted to stay. Sister was not as eager, but she wasn't unhappy either. By day two, she conducted a poll in the class asking if they wanted her to stay. Meanwhile, before she even got there, there was some kerfuffle about who would get to sit beside her (as she already had friends in the group). So, of course, it was a no-brainer and everyone (except that one PIA kid, bless his heart) voted for her to stay. This seemed to act like a Super Mario Brothers mushroom causing her to grow twice her size almost overnight.
No kidding. By the end of that first week, my daughter was A Different Person.
Her confidence level shot up. My previously shy, quiet, demure little girl became vocal, chatty, sassy and overall more participatory in her classroom than she had ever been in her time in school. Her new teacher was blown away by the change, as were the principal and director of our school.
She came out of her shell and said "Hi, World!"
And she hasn't looked back.
And it scares me. Even though I really want this for her: I want her to be confident, outspoken, sticking up for herself and what she believes, not taking shit from anyone, to know her own mind (which she already did), to be willing to walk her own path - I'm not sure how to handle a person who does those things against my better judgement.
Which is the crux and the irony. You know? I don't know how to balance "know-your-own-mind & do it your way" with "follow-our-lead-because-we're-here-to-guide-you".
I'm going to cop to the fact that it was easier to foresee parenting the shy, demure, cooperative girl through her teenage years. Actually, forget easier, it was just plain easy in my mind.
It's true that she's always been the kind of person who once she'd made up her mind about something that was it, she didn't really do it that much and she was still almost always willing to cooperate. Now? Not so much.
Of course I know that my children will both choose things that are different from what I want for them, the won't always idealize the same things as me. Which is a good thing. I am already working on learning to co-exist with and even support things they like/choose that I would not. I'm working on that in small ways to get ready for the big ways that are probably coming down the tube.
You know, I'm not even sure what I'm scared of. That's a lie. I'm scared of being alienated from them and being irrelevant in their lives.
There. I said it.
It's not sex, drinking or drugs. No. I'm terrified of the shut door. Not the sometimes shut door, the always shut door that would relegate me to the sidelines as sympathetic bystander.
I wish someone could tell me how to parent so that they will always feel safe with me and always trust me and tell me the Big, Important Things. For now, I'm being there and being there and then being there some more.
I'm being genuine and honest. I am listening and trying not to talk too much. I am living my journey too; modeling that following my dreams is important. Being me and hoping that's good enough, really.
* Not a fan of conventional schooling. I abhor testing (standardized or not), homework and grades; they have no place in the arena of discovery and learning. I reject the artificial standards by which all children are measured and judged and see it as institutionalized neglect of the each of the learners' individuality and personal learning needs. Due to circumstances that have been beyond my reasonable control, my children who were unschooled all their early lives, have been in conventional school since January 2011.