Growing Up Too Fast

I just heard a news report that 15% of 7 year old girls have entered puberty.  That means, in the next 3.5 years, I have to teach my innocent, young daughter about sex.  I don’t consider myself particularly prudish, but sex is not something that 6 or 7 year olds need to know about.  This news report got me thinking about everything else in society that is causing my little girls to grow up too fast, and it started making me pretty sad.

Take fairytale and Disney stories – they are full of death.  Have you read or watched Snow White lately?  The entire story is a murder plot of a stepmother out to kill her stepdaughter (and, yes, she’s a stepmom because bio mom died).  Cinderella’s mom is dead.  Even poor Nemo’s mom is dead.  How can we get through these classic stories without explaining death to our children?  I also want to explain the importance of water safety and pool safety to my children, but “drowning” is a euphemism for “death,” so it’s a slippery slope.  It’s hard to raise cautious and aware children without freaking them out or by exposing them to things that absolutely shatter their innocence.

And, then there’s the obsession with all things adult that I’ve noticed in the Big Cheese and her friends.  I understand there’s a certain allure to being an adult.  We get to stay up late, don’t get forced to take naps (although wish we could!), and we get to drive cars.  Big Cheese also wants to drink “Diet Coke” (all brown sodas are Diet Coke to her), and she even wants to know when she’s going to be big enough to drink beer and wine like mommy and daddy.  When we answer that that will come when she’s 21, it’s evident that her concept of time is pretty non-existent, and she starts asking if maybe that will be after her next birthday.

Grandma sent the girls a really cute toy cupcake set, complete with birthday candles that Velcro to the top of them.  They have led to a pretty regular game of birthday party around our house.  We sing “Happy Birthday” so much that 16-month-old Bugster now sings it on her own in the car or sitting on the couch.  The Big Cheese also loves real birthday parties and wants to go to everyone single one she can.  She has birthday on the brain so much that she has started a birthday wish list for when she turns “4 next week.”  (In reality, she turns 4 in May.)  I’ve tried getting her to turn it in to a Christmas list, but she really wants another birthday so she can turn 4.  Once she’s 4, she feels like she’ll be big enough to do more adult things.   

The Big Cheese figured out she won’t always live with us.  So, she has started asking a ton of questions about it, like where she’s going to live when she lives by herself, and even if Hubby and I are going to help her carry her boxes when she moves out.   She wants to know if Bugster will still live with us when the Big Cheese moves out or if she, too, will live by herself somewhere.  These are such big questions for my little girl.

Then, I watch as Bugster grows, and we celebrate every milestone – the walking, the talking, the sleeping through the night.  She eats with silverware and drinks through a straw now, and her separation anxiety has significantly lessened.  (Can I hear a “Woohoo!!!”?)  We celebrate each and every one of these steps as signs that she is growing up.  It is such a tough, tough line between encouraging advancement and growing up way too fast.  And this when they’re just toddlers!  The teenage years are going to be brutal . . .

Back to School

Since when did back to school begin in August?  Back when I was a kid I remember September being the start of the school year.  And I’m not talking about year round either, these kids are going back to school mid-august for a normal school year!  Not that I’m complaining much because I am definitely ready for the kids to be back in school, that Staples commercial with the parent singing and dancing “Its the most wonderful time… of the year” really does nail it on the head.  I mean, of course we love our kids, but boy is that break in the morning until early afternoon nice!

So with back to school that means back to school shopping.  When I was young and in private school that meant our one trip on “uniform day” to purchase our clothes for the year.  But my son attends public school AND is going into junior high, which means one thing and one thing only… shelling out loads of money in order for him to have the proper clothes and equipment to allow him to fit in and be one of the “in-crowd”.  If it was any other school year I would just go to Walmart and purchase some new shorts, t-shirts and call it a day.  But I really want him to get off on the right foot in middle school.  He’s already a bit on the nervous side, having to make new friends, a new campus, new teachers, so I think having him pick his new wardrobe will only boost his confidence.

The Trapper Keeper

My final concern with back to school is the question that no parent wants to think about.  To phone or not to phone.  We tried giving him a phone in 5th grade when he started riding his bike to school, after a $350 phone bill due to data transfer we took the privilege away, because lets face it, it IS a privilege, not a right.  But on the flip side, he now will have obligations after school, maybe study groups, or want to hang out at a friends house.  It would be nice to be able to communicate with him without having to drive over to the school.  Plus my best friend is a teacher there and says that virtually every kid has a phone.  Do I really want to make him the kid that doesn’t have a phone?

If there’s one thing for sure, I seriously believe we have it harder today being parents than our parents did when they were raising us.  My moms biggest concern was getting me the trapper keeper I wanted for back to school, certainly not deciding if unlimited text messaging is appropriate.