Thursday, December 1, 2011

I don't want to grow up!

One of the things that I've always appreciated about my extra-special kid is that she seems to linger in the ages and stages longer than her sister.  With the older one, the stages seem to go by so fast.  In a blink, Sesame Street was replaced by Dora and then Dora replaced by Hannah Montana.  Yes, there were probably some shows in between Dora and Hannah, but wow, did the changes seem to zip right along.

My extra-special girl, on the other hand, tends to mature more slowly.  I think that is probably true for many extra-special kids.  She is 10 now and will still choose to watch those preschool shows in addition to watching the same shows that interest her older sister.  She remains a fan of Barbie, loves Disney princesses, and best of all, she still believes in Santa, hook, line and sinker.  Okay, all of us in our family still love Disney princesses so that probably isn't a valid example...

This slow maturity can be a double-edged sword.  It makes me happy to have more time to enjoy the ages and stages with her because they don't pass so quickly.  However, it also leaves her open to taunting and teasing if she spills the beans about watching Dora instead of iCarly.  She doesn't see a problem with liking both, and she is 100% right about that, but kids can be cruel and being different is not always a good thing.

As the parent, my desire is to protect her from the teasing and taunting.  I want to just shush her when she starts talking about things that I know her peers will find to be unusual; I want to protect her from herself, even though she really isn't doing anything wrong - just different.  Of course, then I have to wrestle with my own guilt over somehow being embarrassed on her behalf, as though she should be embarrassed or ashamed of her differences.  I heard a comment on another message board where, at Halloween time, the mom was stuck because her 14 year old wanted to be a character from a much younger show and her thought was, "Can't you just be a slutty cheerleader like every other 14 year old?"  Can you imagine?  Realistically, that mom probably didn't want her daughter to be a slutty cheerleader, but it's amazing to what lengths we will go to help our kids fit in with their peers!  It's tough for us, as parents, to find the balance between letting them linger in these ages and stages and helping them to assimilate more successfully with their peers.  It's not like you can force them to mature any more quickly.  That will come when it comes.

For now, for me, I am just trying to enjoy K in this moment and in this time, while reminding myself that we should never be ashamed or embarrassed about the person that she is.  No matter how long we linger here, the time will pass much too quickly for me anyway.

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