Tween girl are complicated

Happy to snappy

If females are complicated, tween girls are even more so. I was a bit apprehensive about meeting the happy girl who had become a snappy tween. Snappy and sullen at the usual, like having to do homework and practice piano.

Or it could be something you would never be able to guess, like the other day when she decided that we were teasing her bird and not treating the bird like a human being. She looks down and you will never know what the episode is about unless you can guess the obscure thing she’s unhappy about. Or somehow coax her to giving you a few hints through the lips that are all zipped up.

Soon enough it’s forgotten and she’s all sweet and playful again.

“So what happened yesterday? How come you’re moody one day and okay the next?”
“I don’t know,” she says with a shrug, then she looks at me. “Aren’t you like that too?”

All grown up

Okay, snappy isn’t entirely fair to describe her recent changes. We do like her being more independent and able to, for example, get herself ready in the mornings, pack her own bags and do up her hair neat and tidy without being told to do so. She’s curious about cooking and even made me her very own “egg in a nest” in my first week back.

At the same time we’re pleasantly surprised that she still loves to be tucked into bed with lots of hugs and kisses, and is up for plenty of of bedtime chitter-chatter. My favourite bedtime question so far –

“How do you know when a pimple is ready to pop? You said you’d tell me!”

And our deep musings about growing up –

“What’s the worst thing about being a tween?”
“You know…!”
“I don’t know, what is it?”
“PUBERTY!”

You’re not funny

“So can you like, not embarrass me in front of my friends?” She asks out of the blue.
“What do you mean? What do you think I’d do anyway? Tell stories about you when you were a baby?”
“Yeah, or try to tell a joke?” What are you saying?!
“I don’t tell jokes. Come on, as if I have the time or energy to embarrass you on purpose! Are you really sensitive these days?”
“Yeah, quite…”
“Okay I won’t. But if you still feel embarrassed when I’m not doing anything then that’s you being too sensitive okay?”

The following week we’re singing along to some song in the car –

“If my friends are around, can you not sing in front of them?”
“Are you saying I’m bad at singing? I think I sound okay.” I laughed.
“No, but I’m still afraid they’ll laugh at you. They might think you’re silly. I don’t want them to think that I have a silly sister.”

Anything for the iPad

Weekend nights are iPad nights. We’re constantly talking about rules for iPad use. And about why this matters at all. And how to not take the advantage of the fact that mum and dad are too preoccupied right now to mind what she’s doing. And why rules differ between families (and how the grass might seem greener on the other side). And how being dishonest and sneaky about it means she loses our trust. It’s exasperating. I’m sure she would trade the family for an iPad if she could. And maybe I would throw it out the window if I could.

At her request we went to the new tenpin bowling place over the weekend. She was in high spirits because she beat me at both games (her with bumpers on and me with bumpers off though!) As we’re driving home and looking at the time, she’s unhappy again.

“Now I don’t have time to play iPad.”
“Well you could have told me earlier if you wanted to stay home to play iPad instead of going bowling!”
“But I like both of them.”
“iPad would have been cheaper.” I wanted to roll my eyes.

Heartbreaking

Earlier on, she overheard me talking about my doubts with mum.

“Are you disappointed at God too? I thought it was just me.” She said quietly. A few days later we’re praying and she keeps fidgeting impatiently, which is unusual for her.

“That’s not very respectful. Are you bored?” She shrugs. “…Or is it because you feel that God isn’t there?”
“Yeah. It’s not that he isn’t there but he doesn’t do something to show himself.”
“Have you always felt this way?”
“No, since mum got sick. It doesn’t feel like he’s doing anything.”

I suppose during the teen years we do start to think through matters of faith for ourselves. Nevertheless, it’s still hard to hear my silent thoughts echoed out loud. I’m not sure how to help when we’re having the same sort of questions, and I said she should let mum know, and God know how she feels

“I thought you know these things. Do you know God better or does mum know God better?”

I think the light-hearted conversation snippets just became darker.

More recently, we had an unfortunate conversation about cremation versus burial, to finalise some details in the will. She starts tearing up. After a few minutes and in-between her sobs she says, “I want to die with mum.”

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5 Comments

  1. It is always a complicated thing to deal with our younger siblings in place of our parents. Sometimes circumstances forces us to be the breadwinner, sometimes the role model, and in your case it might be that we need to take on a parenting figure of sorts. I can empathise with some of the struggle you face, although you have to tackle the elements of faith as well, which can be frustrating because there is often no absolutes or appropriate guidance in that department; we learn by doing. I don’t know why I’m saying all this but I guess I wanted to let you know I care about what you’re going through right now.

    I do think you can take comfort in the fact that your tweenager is old enough to understand some of what the family is going through. I believe it is better than completely shielding her from the reality of the situation, and will make her a stronger and more understanding person when she’s older. I’m also glad you’re writing about some of these frustrations and concerns; don’t bottle it all in or dismiss what you feel. Remember to find space for yourself at least every other day to meditate/rest.

    My thoughts for you and your family from Adelaide!

    Reply

    1. I think you’re speaking from experience about being the older sibling aye? ;)

      Thanks for your concern, and I’m glad you, E and your parents were around during those first few days. Only regret is that we didn’t get to eat at the Quackling place lol. I think I must’ve been in a bit of a daze and I’m not sure if I expressed this at the time but the food, company and hospitality was much appreciated. What was the song we were trying to play again?

      Reply

  2. It can’t be easy for you, looking after ur mum, and caring for your little sister as well. My heart goes out to you

    Reply

    1. thanks for your message. it’s hard to think that more than 6 months has passed since I wrote this. it’s been better than we expected.

      yet, at the same time there’s no specific answers, esp not for those faith questions. I do believe though, a little more than at that time, that God is the author and perfecter of our faith

      Reply

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