We’re almost at the midway point of Chi’s first year in middle school – amongst the preteen, in-between, ‘tween crowds that know so much about so little and want so terribly to grow up too quickly. To say that baby girl and I have grown apart some since the year has begun would be a gross understatement. She’s like this young woman I don’t really understand, but am drawn to in complete fascination.
She’s often moody – switching between elation and devastation like one might flip a coin from head to tails. I never know what might set her off – what might lead her to storm off in … I don’t know, frustration?
Sometimes she regresses to almost infantile whining and blubbering. Her eyes well with tears and she buries her face in her hands. Words become unintelligible and her body wracks with sobbing. If allowed, she retreats to her room where she gently closes her door (to slam it would alert us unnecessarily to its closing).
Increasingly she’s becoming disappointed with us. Her fathers – biological and by love – have no idea how to handle a hormonal girl. They’ve no grasp of the significance of little things like worrying her hair is messed, her clothes are ‘all wrong,’ her body is too underdeveloped. Her fleeting attention to details – evidenced in her always disheveled room and haphazard backpack – frustrates.
She often catches me grimacing as I note how her chest is no longer that of a little girl. She grows quickly frustrated when we shop for clothing and I search – often in vain – for something not revealing every new curve of her body’s metamorphosis. She inquires occasionally if I consider her a friend, but frequently treats me like a superficial stranger she doesn’t trust enough to confide in.
I’m well aware that she’s receiving a duel education – that in class from her teachers and that from her peers, the majority of whom are much older. And yet, she feigns ignorance, probably for my sake, of things which she knows she’s not old enough to handle. She avoids saying words like “sex” or “breasts” or – heaven help us – anything about male genitalia (increasingly difficult, as Ya has a tendency to want to emerge from somewhere having stripped of his clothes).
We happened upon a conversation this morning, one we’ve had in bits and pieces before, and she deemed it uncomfortable and taboo. Yes, I am now that grandma from the commercial talking about that which is unspeakable (except I’ve never been called “hot buttered biscuit” or any other such nickname). She asked, again, when we might be considering another baby. We should have one, she said, “at least when Ri is two, Mom. Dad is overruled.”
And though I hardly brought up how babies are made in regards to her Dad and I, the conversation shifted to the birds and the bees. But Chi would have none of it, as she squirmed in the passenger seat beside me. She said:
“Birds and bees? We haven’t learned about birds and bees. We’re still on the energy unit,” she dismissed me. “Now bees and flowers? That I know. And birds and babies — you know, cranes bringing babies to the window.”