Yesterday was a big milestone: my oldest girl turned 12!
Unlike past years, I was not melancholy for days on end about her beautiful and scary beginnings. We’ve been busy and so preoccupied and being the mom of two tweens for only one more year means there’s a lot of other stuff going on.
In one year, she’ll be 13! And it’s been a whirlwind of a year. If you looked at her growing up over the last year, so many changes. When she turned 11 last January, she was still a kid – very much so. Now, she is nearly a teen!
And while I know that the thought of transitioning a girl with Down syndrome into womanhood sounds daunting or scary for some, I’m not scared for a few reasons. First of all, I know that she’s in God’s care. He protects all the innocents and, even at times she doesn’t look it, she still is quite innocent. (Thank God.) That said, here’s what I’m doing as a mom to ensure that my girl doesn’t grow up too fast or too slow:
- Making sure she has secure friendships.
…at least in the future. I know that some people have friends from GRADE SCHOOL ON. Maybe that will happen (there is one person, where it looks like a mutual friendship), but even if not, few people retain their grade school friends and make great friends later. However, I don’t want her to have to wait until mid-30s and 40s to have trustworthy friends, like I did! I’ve already discovered there are some great programs that will encourage her and Zoe to have friends. Meanwhile I will still try to encourage meeting or inviting friends over – although that has been a bit of a fail. And they do have friends at the adult age and high school age.
- Talking about personal matters.
I’m actually working on finding tools and techniques this year to better discuss how to raise a Christian girl with a disability through puberty that are at her reading level. (Apparently books don’t abound on this topic, GRRR.) In fact, that looks like a great project to take on, should I find an illustrator! Meanwhile, I’m talking to my children, a lot. Period matters, privacy, “no don’t get dressed there, that’s not for anyone to see”, etc. I have to actually model these things better, but at least started talking about them. I also need to get both girls – at different levels – on board with personal care. Amelia needs to start doing her showers on her own, and Zoe, thankfully, showers and brushes her teeth on her own when the mood strikes her but face cleansing is a HUGE struggle!
- Talking about boys.
Ok, well, ick but it has to be done! Amelia is a lovely-dovey- type, so is Zoe, so I need to find ways to focus on the good and bad of boys. Because before long, there could be dating – I don’t believe it WON’T happen “because disability.” PLFFFT. Give me a break.And let’s face it, even if you’re a straight-A, level headed, “typical” girl, boys can still mess you up especially if they make you weak in the knees. Amelia is ALREADY embarrassed about these things, so it might be time just to drop happy stories into to conversations, like showing my wedding pic’s or talk about how romantic our early dating was. (Sadly, there’s WAY too many bad choices I have to leave out of these preliminary talks!) And that also means…
- We need to set up rules NOW.
All the things girl-dads HATE to talk about about have to be dealt with by a parental conversation or 10: when they can date, when they can kiss, when they stop group dates or go without chaperones, supervisions, going on – can they go on their own? Make up, deodorant, and everything in between!
Meanwhile, I’m using this opportunity to TOTALLY ENJOY ANY BIT OF KID LEFT IN MY 9 YEAR OLD! Because 11 year olds no longer want to be cuddled or even played with. (Although oddly, she can still come over and tickle MY feet but don’t you dare touch hers!) Giggling fits are nearly over with Amelia. She is all “serious business” so much of the time and, even though she loves to dance, she is ‘OVER’ jumping on the trampoline. YIKES.
Share your tips on raising girls, while you peruse our simple birthday fun last night: