In case you didn’t know, I’m raising a 10-year-old daughter. She’s at an age when she has some more mature interests. She wants to do spa days. She craves “girl time.” Occasionally, she seems to really enjoy my company.
Sounds like I have hit the perfect age of parenting, at least with this one (because I still have toddlers in my house—or are 3-year-olds preschoolers?).
It is a good place. I love the freedom that 10 gives. She can do her homework with minimal supervision. When she and her friends play outside I don’t worry about anyone wandering in front of a moving car. She wants to learn how to do more things for herself, and I want to oster this budding independence. However, there is an ugly stage that is lurking in the background.
The Age of Stupid
Looming in the depths of my 10-year-old’s inner self, is a demonic version of herself. And I know this inner demon child will be running the show in the next few years.
Don’t confuse this demon with one you may have seen in the toddler years. This is not like a 3-year-old who needs a good exorcism when she is throwing things and screaming because she is overwhelmed or tired. No! This demon child is the teenager forming to take over my sweet girl who, I swear was only a baby yesterday.
This is the version of her who rolls her eyes at me because I am stupid.
I know, I was surprised too. All these years I thought I was mildly intelligent. Turns out, I am stupid, and my 10-year-old knows so much more than I do.
While checking her homework, if I tell her she needs to correct a math problem, after she rolls her eyes, she will “teach” me how they have done it in class to prove that she is right and I am old and stupid. Granted, I’m not a master of the new approaches to math. She did in fact need to teach me grid multiplication, or whatever it’s called. Thing is, when I tell her to correct something, it’s not that it’s in an unfamiliar format, it’s that the answer is WRONG. I don’t care how you multiply your numbers—grid, stacked, or calculator—the answers should all match. That is a key component of math. It doesn’t matter which method or approach you use, everyone arrives at the same answer.
If I tell her she isn’t actually done picking up her room, after the immediate eye roll (because I’m stupid), I get a very loaded, “what else needs to be done?” Clearly the socks on her floor and the sweater that is halfway under her bed belong exactly where they are. The assortment of clothes, books, and dolls on her bed, they belong there. Duh! It does not matter that if that sweater remains where it is, it will be swallowed up by the abyss that is the space under her bed and won’t resurface until it’s two sizes too small. It also doesn’t matter that the charger she can’t find is in fact on her bed in the pile of stuff that is “exactly where it belongs.” Now I’m rolling my eyes.
Thankfully I’m not always stupid. At 10, she is caught somewhere between the child I know and the teen she’ll become. This means I still have the ability to impress her with something I know or something I can do. If I experiment and make a new icing and it’s tasty, I am a genius. Although I should probably pause to note her level of shock when I succeed, I choose to ignore it. Of course when I take a chance and something doesn’t turn out the way I planned, she’s quick to tell me what I did wrong or what I should have done. At least I impress her more often than not.
I Was Her
I know 10 is only the beginning of what lies ahead. Puberty is on the horizon.
I know to her it seems like I’m out of touch because I’m old, but I too was once a 10-year-old girl. She’s caught between two worlds—one filled with toys and childhood simplicity, and one filled with complex emotions and social hierarchy. I vaguely remember what it was like to start finding my place in the world. To feel like I was no longer a little kid, but to know I was not yet an adult. To be honest, I’m still not sure I have found my place in the world, and I often need to remind myself I am an adult.
I knew the age of sass was coming for her. I just wasn’t prepared for it to hit as early as it did. That’s a lie, deep down I knew it would appear in the later elementary years. I just wasn’t ready for it. I don’t know that I ever would have been ready for it. I don’t know that I’ll be ready for it when the next child hits this stage, or the last child for that matter.
I’m 5 percent sure I wasn’t prepared simply because she still is my baby. But I’m 95 percent sure I wasn’t ready because I know what still is in-store for me. It’s not that I have a crystal ball, but I know how terrible I was at her age. I also know it only gets worse before it gets better. So while life with a daughter who is 10 is sprinkled with sass and hard eye rolls, life with a teen daughter is bound to contain exponentially more sass and too many eye rolls to count.
I’m not ready. I hope my own mother finds my situation comical. I know I deserve every ounce of sass that is headed my way (why was I so mouthy and sassy?!?). I’m sure I will survive the tumultuous teen years. My mother survived me. Her mother survived her. I’m just not looking forward to being stupid for so many years.