Thursday, 28 March 2013

In Search of Self

'You know I have an attitude problem,' says the 10-year-old. There's a hint of pride in her voice.
'Yes,' I reply warily.
'Well everyone in Year 5 and 6 has one too. It's something you get when you're ten.'

Impertinence, I realise, is the latest playground must-have, along with a Juicy Couture school bag, Ralph Lauren underpants and an iPod Touch. Anyone with dreams of status has rehearsed the curled lip and the cocked hip with which to repulse all adult utterances. They've mugged up on fashionable conversation openers: 'You're dead, Mum!'/ 'You just don't geddit!'/'You wanna ruin my life!'. They've jettisoned puerile pleasures: bedtime stories/family time and devoted themselves to the things that really matter: self-adhesive nail extensions, New Look fashions, Jesse J and Instagram.

The shadowed eyes, for which I've blamed hormones, are down to the strain of this transition. I've been distracted by my own frustrations as I watch my little girl changing. Now it dawns on me that she is equally unnerved. Peer pressure is precipitating her into a new world before biology has quite caught up.

At night, freed from other ten-year-olds' eyes, she clutches her toy elephant and asks for a Mr Man story. 'At secondary school I suppose I'll have to invent a new me again,' she says. 'And the trouble is I'm worried I won't know who 'me' is any more.'

Middle-age, I realise, is a blessing.

8 comments:

  1. I never looked at it like this before. But, yes, it is a benefit to be freed from so much peer-pressure, yet hard to watch our children grappling with it. Bitter sweet to discover they're not so "tough."

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    1. I must say I'm relieved to detect that it is partly a pose and even more relieved that I am way to old to have to bother with it myself.

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  2. Oh gosh, those years are so hard aren't they. Finding how you fit in, trying to be somebody else, someone more grown up. I spent until my thirties trying to be other people before stopping caring, and I have been far happier ever since. What a shame everyone has to learn that lesson themselves, I would love to be able to pass that to my daughter in sandwich form and save her all the effort! So lovely that she can come home and throw off the shackles and be a little girl again xxx

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    1. I don't remember struggling to fit in when I was a child. In fact I made no effort to do so! But I do remember late teens and twenties being very challenging as one tries to fathom ones inner essence. Not that I ever succeeded!

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  3. And when you put it like that - I am very very glad to be 42. I really feel for your daughter, entering that very tricky time that bridges childhood with teenagerhood (is there such a word :o) ) - one minute snotty and defensive, the next demanding cuddles and stories. Such a bitter sweet time. You've made appreciate my grey hairs! X.

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    1. 42! You're but a babe! Yes, I must make the most of the last vestiges of little girl lurking under that teenage pout.

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  4. I always laugh when people say they wish they could be a teenager again. Secondary school is such a tough time as you try to both fit in and be unique. Give me mid twenties any day. That time when you've just left university so you have a bit of money for the first time but very few responsibilities. Now that period I would do again. (plus at age 30 it wasn't that long ago :) )

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    1. A wise fool you are! 30s are better than 20s. And 40s are better still!

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