It was that silence again. She was refusing to talk to me, this time because I called her out on being mean to her sister. Through her silence, I could hear accusations she’d voiced too often lately.
“You hate me.”
“My sister is a spoiled brat and you baby her.”
“I never get you to myself.”
Here I was walking on shaky ground with her and she was only 10!
This was only the beginning of the next eight years! How were we going to survive and recover from her adolescent years?
I went to my sisters. How do I get her to not be so hateful to her sister? Why is she so angry all the time? How do I get her to not be so angry at me so often?
My sister took me down memory lane, back to the girl I was at age 10. She reminded me how I was mean to her. She mentioned the trouble I got into at school with passing notes and reminded me of that fist fight at the bus stop.
As I revisited my 10-year-old self, I also remembered what was going on with that girl beneath the anger and attitude. I remembered how hard it is to be 10.
Up until our tween years, if we’re lucky like my daughter and me, our parents’ protective bubble shield us from the hurts of the world. Once we hit double digits, the realities of life start to seep through the cracks. It isn’t long before the bubble pops, exposing us to the struggles of adolescence that awaits us on the other side of early childhood.
The reality for our kids right now, during a pandemic, is that they feel cut off from their friends and their activities and even the strangers behind the masks in the stores.
Who isn’t angry right now?
With the situation we’re living in, combined with preteen hormones and growing pains, it’s no wonder my daughter seems to be on an emotional rollercoaster.
On top of this world crisis of their time, the preteen years are when our kids are old enough to see the worries and stresses that weigh on their parents. Their eyes are opened to the sadness and struggle of real life. Real life can be hard—and I imagine it feels really hard to my daughter right now.
That tween I suddenly don’t understand is trying to face these realities that are hurtling at her like a freight train on a collision course. She’s not that different that I was at her age, putting up her defenses in order to cope, whether through anger, silence, or withdrawal.
On top of that, their bodies are changing.
The pressures of school and activities suddenly begin to be not as much about fun and more about their future. Then you throw in the current world climate where, lately, that future looks so bleak and uncertain. Friendships and seeing the opposite sex as more than just friends is a shifting and evolving situation they’re trying to figure out how to navigate—if they ever get the chance to see their friends again.
She’s trapped somewhere between excitement for the new freedoms that come with growing up and just wanting to believe in the peaceful magical world we wrapped her in through her early years.
I wish my 10-year-old self could talk to my daughter and tell her she understands the struggle. And I think, if I could talk to my 10-year-old self, she would tell me to show my daughter a little extra grace and understanding during this time of transition and uncertainty. Like my mother did for me.