This week, my favorite 11 year old becomes my favorite 12 year old.
I'm tempted to tell her to enjoy this year because it will be her last "good" one.
After this year, she'll be a teenager.
An attitude will be pinned on her, simply due to her age. People will assume she's silly or that her opinions are uninformed. People will shake their heads at her music, even if they've never actually listened to it. They will give her wardrobe a once over, critically, while forgetting the terrible fashion choices they once made. Before any ailment will be properly diagnosed, there will be prying questions about her sexual decision making and behavior. . . and even when she is innocent and inexperienced, they will assume she's lying about it.
She'll get pimples, and hips, and funny growth spurts that are totally out of proportion with other parts of her body. She'll live in fear of getting her period and not being "prepared" for it. She will find herself being compared to other girls her age and models not her age and animations of women that are impossible. She'll want to look like she's growing up while also hoping no one calls attention to it.
She will be told, repeatedly, that she's not working hard enough, or smart enough, or clever enough, or pretty enough.
She'll have a whole new set of rules to live by . . . but no one will tell her exactly what they are until after she's broken them. She will become alien to us, and we to her. She will be expected to act with thoughtfulness and maturity, even though she's still just a child. She will be told she is too young at the same time we expect her to be old enough to know better.
She will learn a whole new level of communication and cruelty and gamesmanship from her peers. She will be expected to be both innocent as well as savvy enough to understand double speak and trickery from those who mean harm.
She will have new hormones pump through her body that will mess with everything. She will want to be older but still able to lean her head on her mother's shoulder after a hard day. Expectations will be placed on her. She suddenly will be expected to consider her future with every decision.
Yep. This is her last really good year. I need to make sure I help her enjoy it . . . and soften the blows/be a buffer when it's over.