Oct 24, 2013

Be Tween

She's 11.5, a tweener and confusing to her old man.  Help.



Pigtails' growth rate is weedy, often climbing half an inch in weeks.  Skinny jeans are baggy on the twigs and have a 3-month expiration date.  In two moons, her jeggings shrink to bare ankle pirate pants and the polo becomes a midriff. She wears size 7 women's shoe and they're getting snug.

Why does she need 5 pairs of shoes?

These are the days of an opposing rift between the little girl she's always been and the person she'll one day become.  Her maturity pendulum swings between kiddo and c'mon dad, that's so babyish.


For Halloween, she asked to dress up as Katniss from Hunger Games.  The next day she changed her mind and is going with Little Red Riding Hood.

She begs me to stay 100 feet away from her and friends when we stroll the mall.
I'm so embarrassing.
Maybe it's because there's a piece of dried chicken nugget stuck to my shirt.
Two hours later at bedtime, she wants me to tarry a few minutes longer to snuggle and chat.
Or was she just stalling?

She peppers this bro' about bras: sports, criss-cross straps and lined camisoles.  The next breath she wants to play attackle, rips her shirt off and cracks my head with a flying elbow from the top of the couch.

I say:  "Please put your shirt on.  You're too old to pull bareback-style WWF slams."

She looks confused and counters:  "But you ripped your shirt off, and besides, you're my Dad."

I blink and respond:  "I'm a boy."

She's curious on what to expect when her, uh, visitor arrives.  Instincts say I should close my eyes, plug ears and chant "la la la".  Gulp...I break it down for her with a squeaky voice.  She smiles, I give her a knuckle punch and say we'll throw a fun P. Party when Aunt F. swings by for a visit.

Then she slips to her room and changes Claire the American Girl doll into pajamas and rain boots.

She likes Harry from One Direction and pinning to Pinterest.  And balloons.

She's saving up for a Rainbow Loom, but also asked how to open a broker account and invest in stock.

Boys are gross.  The next week she has a crush on Ben.  By Thursday afternoon, boys are gross again.  Dad is happy on that.

She's growing up, but we're still tight as ever.  I hope she'll want to continue the long talks with dorky dad when she's 15 and 16. Even if he has dried chicken nugget stuck to his sweater.

-Beard

44 comments:

  1. Have you been stalking my house?? :) I have one the same age and everything is exactly the same... Can't say it is that much less confusing for me (except the private girly stuff of course). Every day is such a roller coaster but I also love the more mature conversations and watching her learn and test and work out her own thoughts about the world. It is quite the phase!

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    1. Glad to hear all the crazy stuff coming down the pipe at her age is normal. I noticed five new gray hairs this morning on my scalp.

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  2. Have fun with that. Seems like you're a good dad so I imagine it will be fine, though confusing. Teenage girls are just weird, all of them. Even having been there myself, they confuse me. Boys too but they're so different. I'm nervous for the day that my boys are teens. I have 2 toddlers and one cooking right now (all boys) so I have a while before the teen years but yikes.

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    1. It seems boys might be more challenging to raise in the early years when they are young and hyper, girls bring the gray hair in the teen years. A lot of drama these days. Do you want to work a trade sometime?

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  3. Melissa C.10/25/2013

    She's all those things right now. It's probably as confusing for her as it is for you. Kindness, humor and, above all, love and support. Sounds like your approach anyway?

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    1. Yes, I like your words, thanks.

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  4. This is such a sweet post it brought tears to my eyes. You're a great dad. The most important thing is to keep talking.

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    1. Talk she does, how do I turn her off?

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  5. It'll be like that for a good long while :) and you can get used to the fact that she's cuddlier when no-one is around. You're her safe place, but with others around she starts practizing independence.

    About the shirt: you'll always be more her dad than be a boy. As long as she knows that ripping her shirt of with others isn't a good idea anymore (and I'm sure she knows), let her see you as a neuter. She'll get more private on her own, without you saying something. I think it's important that she knows you don't look at her like you look at other women, so I wouldn't ask her to cover up with the reasoning that you're a man. You're her adult, and there may be a time when she needs to be able to, for example, show you a weird mole on the side of a (not-yet existent) boob, without feeling it would be weird for you.

    It's going to be an interesting journey, for sure. But hey, you're doing a great job with being her dad, and you'll both figure out the puberty-thing as well :)

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    1. Confirmed she still feels comfortable around dad, she ripped her shirt off again and barked, "come on little man, BRING IT." Teacher at conferences said daughter is quiet and helpful in class, go figure.

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    2. That is AWESOME. And funny :)

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  6. However weird and unintelligible things are for you, just know it must be twice as new and unusual for her. She is trying to navigate these waters just like you are. Keep that in mind, keep talking, and always be her coach and teammate.

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    1. I'll do that, thanks for the reassurance that crazy is normal.

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  7. Having been a teenage girl, all I can say it's a rough ride on the emotional rollercoaster. Watch out for crying fits one minute over nothing, then everything being okay in the next minute. For me it peaked about 13, then that part got better.

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    1. Two years until peak crying, I'll be tapping out before then.

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  8. Having been a tween/teen girl (doesn't feel like that long ago) I clearly remember clinging to my childhood things in secret - stuffed animals, dolls, even my Mother Goose plate and cup - but striving to be cool and teenager-y at the same time. For Christmas in 6th grade I asked for American Girls clothes, Matchbox 20 CDs, and John Grisham novels (and loved them all.) It's probably more confusing for Pigtails than it is for you, so hang in there.

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  9. Anonymous10/25/2013

    http://helloflo.com/

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  10. I'm betting you'll be right as rain.

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  11. Anonymous10/25/2013

    When she does need 'female' products, please of please don't buy the cheapest stuff. Get the 'good' brand. It's not exactly a fun event but it's a lot worse with crappy supplies.

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    1. She has a specific brand picked out, told me what's up on the options in aisle nine. #tmi

      Crappy supplies I picture a giant wretched overnight log from Sam's Club. Now I'm trying to remove that image from my mind.

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  12. Tween girl are tough. 5 pairs of shoes aren't too many, there is no such thing as too many pairs of shoes. You will be more than fine, you will be awesome.

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    1. "no such thing as too many shoes..."

      Pigtails, is that you posting comments again?

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  13. Awww! Such a sweet post. Show her this one on her wedding day.

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    1. Which will be when she's like 30 something. When I told her that, she nodded and confirmed boys are gross.

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  14. Do you really have dried chicken nugget stuck to your sweater? If you do, tween, is the least of your problems. "come on little man BRING it", that right there is gold. Your daughter is seriously one of the coolest kids I've ever heard of. If mine can meet any of the traits you've mentioned over time of Pigtails, I'll be happy. She is growing more beautiful everytime you post, as well. I don't have any real advice, I'm 3yrs behind you (hopefully it's 3yrs, at least) and 7yrs if I'm lucky, before a 'she-tween'. You are aware of the changes, open to the communication, just keep doing what you've always done. I really believe staying close, is the biggest key. Like someone else said, you are her adult, let her changes and questions guide you.

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    1. Yes, I once did a hot lap around the Mall of America with a crusty hunk of orange chicken stuck to my shirt. Curls, if you're reading, break it down for Angela.

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    2. Pigtails and I often tell Beard he's a messy eater. Both hands, food parts stuck to his beard, sauce dripping from his lips.... So it shouldn't have come as a surprise when a good hour+ after we finish eating, we're hanging in the Puma shoe store and lo' and behold there is a huge chunk of once sticky, dried orange chicken stuck to the front of his shirt. And it's HUGE, as in bigger than a quarter. He flicks it off his shirt like a booger, it hits the floor, bounces around and comes to a rest on Puma's showroom floor. And there he left it. What the...? I don't think we can show our faces in there again. Boys...

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    3. 'Nuff said....

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  15. Anonymous10/28/2013

    While I don't know you personally and am basing this opinion only on what I've read, I think that you are doing more than an awesome job and that you guys will remain close no matter what. It's clear that you care and you're honest with her even when it kills a part of your soul to do so. Parenting can really suck sometimes, as a mom of 3 I feel like I can say this with complete conviction and any parent that's willing to trudge through the crap get's points in my book. And by the way, I almost snorted coffee out of my nose when I read this "She smiles, I give her a knuckle punch and say we'll throw a fun P. Party when Aunt F. swings by for a visit.". I had my two boys first and then along came the little girl...since she's only 2 we have a while before there are any "P. Parties", but I'm really hoping that I remember this so that I can tell her the same thing! Genius!!!!

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    1. We try and celebrate little milestones, make it fun rather than awkward and helps to keep her talking and asking. We held a first bra party last year. By party I mean ice-cream at Snookies.

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  16. I have an eleven-year old daughter, too. I don't think you have anything to worry about. It sounds like you're doing a great job. What's nice watching them grow up is seeing what's important to them now isn't anymore the following year. That's so funny about buying quality feminine products. My daughter has already started being visited by Aunt F. and told me "the dollar store pads are terrible, Mom. They fall apart." She, too, picked out the name brand products she needs to use. Lesson learned!

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    1. Learn their currency as they mature, it changes as they grow. Although she still secretly snuggles biohazard blankie at night, this:

      http://www.beardandpigtails.com/2011/05/blankie.html

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  17. Oh my gosh. We have a boy and two girls. Seven, six, and one. I'm HORRIFIED of what's to come with the girls. And I'm a girl. Maybe that's why it's so scary. You're giving me a glimpse into my future and I'm trembling.

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    1. She won't quit with the Fox song lately, FYI.

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  18. Oh yeah the foxes. . . .
    Have 3 boys - two in college and 1 at 14 still home. Listen, by 12, they still need guidance, but really you are kind of done. This is the age they turn to looking at society and their peers to determine their place in the world. The most important things you teach them by your example instead of what you say - and that is about as good as you like and accept your own darn human self. and them as they become somewhat impossible . . .

    You have to allow for (even mention to ahead of time) that their chemistry will induce some crazy obsessions and compulsions, but not to worry they grow through it and come out on the other side about 17 - 19. Especially with the girls, they are so much more sensible about getting stuff done and sorting through the emotional seeds of whatever is happening to them. My favorite author, Anne Lamott described the teen years as basically "bribes and threats" and since the boundaries are ever changing and expanding, and in a few years she can choose to do any darn thing she wants to with or without your permission . . .you start focusing on the basics - how to be a good roommate, a decent citizen, a good enough student to get into college (as appropriate) so they understand the importance of that ticket to a life of economic stability and the opportunity to be a productive worker at something they actually like / have an aptitude to be good at.

    The rest . . . is really simple. She is facing one of the most amazing and confusing and demanding periods of her life. Do you know anyone who would be 13 again? So, how can you help support her best? Simple - love her. Love her when she is impossible. Laugh at her / with her. Hold her when she is sad. Help her keep her perspective -

    So long as you pretend to like her even when she is impossible, she will like herself and that is the best gift a dad can give.

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  19. "...the most amazing and confusing and demanding periods of her life." <--- I see what you did there.

    What did your bathroom floor look like in the splash zone with three boys bombing code yellows at the throne when younger?

    I'm glad kids are flexible and willing to learn as they grow, just as us parents have to figure out how to guide on the fly. Hope I'm setting the right direction as she's growing up, sometimes not until the teen years do you learn if it all sticks and they make good choices and understand consequence.

    Thanks for the note!




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  20. Marlaine10/31/2013

    Haha! I have three boys and a girl, and the aforementioned "splash zone" improved greatly after I made the boys start cleaning up the toilet and floor. Accuracy suddenly became important, imagine that! And thank God for Clorox disinfectant wipes!

    Regarding raising girls and shoes, my question for you is..."Why only five pairs??" Come on--that's barely the minimum for black shoes: sandals, flats, casual, ankle boots, and dress boots. With girls and shoes, you'll just have to say what I tell my husband and sons when they go out to the shooting range: "I don't get it, but I respect it. Have fun, guys!" It's a total difference in wiring, let me tell ya! haha!

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    1. Amazing how much urine accuracy improves when the brats are on deck to mop the floor.

      Daughter would agree with you on 5 pairs not being enough, she's a hoarder.

      Remington 870 here, yep!

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  21. Anonymous11/01/2013

    may the lord be with you

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  22. Anonymous11/03/2013

    You might also want to think about reinforcing her door. I slammed mine so much as a teenager that it permanently warped and mum said that when they moved out the door still didn't close properly. (oops)
    I would also say yes to quality products but also a fun hot water bottle. I had one with a stuffed dog for a cover that saved my life. When feeling crappy it is nice to have something to cuddle.
    Just love her and all will be good...eventually.

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  23. My sister and I are only 13 months apart. Our simultaneous arrival into the Land of Puberty has always been thought of as the real reason my parents got a divorce. My dad just could not get his head around his new daughters. He kept talking to us, which is why we still talk with him today (30+ years later)! Enjoy the ride.

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  24. My sister and I are only 13 months apart. Our simultaneous arrival into the Land of Puberty has always been thought of as the real reason my parents got a divorce. My dad just could not get his head around his new daughters. He kept talking to us, which is why we still talk with him today (30+ years later)! Enjoy the ride.

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Thanks for the note, check back for my response!