My 11-year-old daughter started Middle School this past fall and over the past months I have been experiencing a complete Mommy-meltdown. I'm not sure any of the "Real" housewives would ever experience this. They would probably just throw a $50,000 party and buy the 11-year old a completely age-inappropriate and over the top present and then treat themselves to some more plastic-surgery. Actually, they probably wouldn't throw a party because they wouldn't want to admit they were old enough to have a child in Middle School. However, like most moms, I do not have this type of life and this type of behavior wouldn't really fly in my small town. So, I became somewhat unglued when my daughter began Middle School -sadly, without the benefits of botox.
Now, before you surmise that I’m one of those overly-protective, overly-emotional mothers, let me assure you I am not. I sent her to Kindergarten on the big yellow bus the first day of school, standing with her Dad and her little brother waving goodbye and nary a tear was shed by anyone. I’m usually not terribly sentimental over every milestone. However, sending my baby girl to MIDDLE SCHOOL caused some unexpected emotions from me.
First of all, she is eleven, eleven! Her small, K-12 school begins middle school at 6th grade. To the school’s credit, the teachers and administration did everything possible to allay our fears, they offered a 6th grade orientation camp over the summer and held meetings for parents. However, none of this is much comfort when your baby girl is entering a major step in adolescence a year or two before you think she should and is sharing the hallways and cafeteria with my husband's new public enemy #1, namely, 8th grade boys.
To prepare for this monumental transition, my husband and I held the GREAT CELL PHONE DEBATE. Previously, we had made the commandment that she would not receive a cell phone until she was 12. However, after much (too much) discussion with other parents of kids of all ages, we decided to go ahead and give her a cell phone before school started. Tales of cell phones saving the day when sports practices were cancelled and when sleep-overs turned into mean girl meetings made it seem like we were sending her out into the big, bad world with no lifeline. So, at her birthday in July, she received a neon lime green cell phone and it has been attached to her like a strange electronic appendage ever since.
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Thinking I was such a hip, progressive mother, I sent her the first text, a sweet birthday message. Her reply text? “STOP CALLING YOURSELF MOMMY. I ONLY CALL YOU MOM NOW.” Ouch. And it has been downhill from there. She arranged her own ride with a friend’s mother to the first Middle School Dance, making certain she would not have to be seen with me on the school grounds. While she was at the dance, I looked over her baby pictures and wondered how we got to this point so fast. As the school year has progressed, she stopped singing Disney pop-star songs in the car and switched to Adam Lambert and Evanescence. Also, she recently developed some strong opinions about boyfriends and belly rings – of which I am thankful to say she still has neither.
I don't know how the housewives of gated communities and penthouse apartments handle this, maybe they just leave it to the nannies to figure out. I imagine they wouldn't debate as long as I did about whether it was morally reprehensible of me to give an 11-year-old a cell phone and if it was an example of the heighth of Amercian materialism and if I really cared about either of these issues. Maybe between their pinot-filled lunches and shopping marathons, they don't notice their daughters' transition from Laura Ingalls to Ke$ha.
However, it’s like an eye-rolling, teen-aged alien has taken over my daughter's mind overnight. I feel unprepared and confused and sad. I know this is all developmentally normal and I remember that I experienced a similar relationship divide with my mother around this age. I think when I was around the age of 25, I finally realized how smart and kind and good my mother is and how lucky I am to have her in my life. So . . . just 14 more years until my girl returns to me? MOMMY will be waiting.