Goalposts: The structure of a goal can vary widely from sport to sport. In sports where goals are the sole method of scoring, the goal is often a rectangular structure that is placed at each end of the playing surface. Each structure usually consists of two vertical posts, called the goal posts, supporting a horizontal crossbar.
Ah the joys of the pre teen. Last week I was sat, in my lounge, at home and alone with all three of my children whilst my husband was (still) at work.
Earlier in the evening my 12 year old daughter was upstairs in her room throwing everything she could find, firmly and loudly, after having left a trail of destruction and debris on her way there. The four year old was asking what was happening and the toddler was trying to fly by jumping off the sofa and laughing when I said ‘no!’ Oh, and I’d just discovered that I’d washed a nappy containing toddler poo with a load of clothes in my washing machine. The day was going well, I was kicking parenting’s ass.
Now I’ve mentioned my feisty daughter many times on my blog before, and have been very honest about the challenges parenting a pre-teen has brought me so far. About how at this age for me, it’s not easy letting go, letting her have more freedom and hoping that I’ve taught her to make ‘informed’ and ‘good’ decisions. My daughter has a lot of common sense, she is quick witted and has an inherent need for attention. She is stubborn, dramatic, emotional. She will argue that black is white, fiercely believing it to be if it means she can get something out of the debate; and she’s sadly growing up in a world where some people feel they are owed everything and that ‘I want’ should mean ‘I get.’ She thinks she’s invincible, she thinks she is wronged daily, misunderstood, and blamed for everything. She’s also beautiful, thoughtful, and caring. Talented, confident and determined. She is a blend of many magical and wonderful things, however sadly, at the moment, she is predominantly anger personified.
I’m not sure how many of my readers are aware that our family is a ‘blended’ one. My daughter has a different father to my sons, who I have had with my husband. She’s had a lot to deal with in her little life and has faced a lot of changes. First, and from the very beginning it was just the two of us, living in a beautiful flat in Bristol together for 6 years. We were surrounded by friends and tragically, when my daughter was 6 years old, a close friend of mine who we’d known for years and who used to look after my daughter one day a week after school, died from breast cancer. My daughter already knew about death as she understood that my father had passed away before she was born, but this was her first experience of it in person. And it wasn’t easy on any of us. Shortly after this we then moved just outside of Bristol with my now husband; another change. A different school, new friends and routines and a very different ethos to the inner city school she’d previously attended. Then my first son came along, my husband and I got married, her father had a baby, I had another baby, I got very ill with PND, her father got married. Change after change after change. Always honestly talked about with her, always addressed and never ignored or brushed over, but uncontrollable endless changes nevertheless.
I often wonder what impact all of this has had on her and whether it’s added to her anger and fuelled her indignation at so many things. Being twelve these days is by no means easy. As a girl, and a short ginger one at that, she’s subjected daily to teasing and p*** taking. Already she’s asked me what a ‘ginger fanny’ is and has been called a bitch in the dinner hall. The boys in her year reportedly describe her as ‘small but feisty.’ So it’s no wonder she’s always got her defences up. When you’re twelve you’re developing your identity, where you fit in the world, what your beliefs are and so much more, yet peer pressures and the latest trends and fads undoubtedly impact on this. Not to mention the delight of hormones which, at the ripe old age of 36, I still haven’t mastered myself yet. It’s a tough time and I wouldn’t want to be there again for love nor money. Yet what I do want is to be able to put myself in my daughter’s shoes and see things from her perspective. And I desperately want to help her manage her anger so a repeat of what happened the other day is not on the cards.
Wanting to put myself in her shoes led to both of us digging out my old diaries this weekend.
Diaries that I started writing when I was just 11 years old and stopped, for no particular reason other than lack of time, when I was about 30. Written every year; covering my first period, my first kiss and oh so much more. We started reading my diary from 1989 together and couldn’t help but laugh at what I’d written (that’s a whole other blog post!) and what struck both of us immediately is how much younger than twelve I seem in the diary. I’m still enjoying building sandcastles on the beach and playing in the park. I’m not bothered by make-up or clothes or boys. There were no mobile phones, no internet or Facebook, and the tv had a measly four channels, none of which showing provocative singers parading around in their underwear. Children were undoubtedly able to be children, with very different expectations made of them. My homework at twelve, for example, was simply colouring in. Oh how different the goalposts were then, in many ways.
We all know that parenting certainly has it’s challenges, and for me it hasn’t got any easier the older my daughter has got, the challenges have simply changed. Parenting a pre-teen in this day and age isn’t straightforward, and neither it would seem, is actually being a pre-teen in 2013…and I think it’s something we’re going to have to work out together.
To be continued…