My eldest daughter has rolled her eyes at me. Now, what immediately springs to mind as I write this is ‘Well, pick them up and roll them back!’. I know, it’s an awful joke, but comes from my first joke book ever that, as a child, I would read from cover to cover on a daily basis. And like ‘pour aller au bureau du poste?’, The Lord’s Prayer and the Adam Ant Prince Charming dance, it’s one of those things that becomes engrained in you as a child and never leaves your system.
Back to the eye-rolling. To me this is an early sign of the teenage years lurking. They are still five years away, so we’re talking long-distance lurking, but lurking they are. This gesture along with a smattering of ‘this is the worst day of my life!’, stomping upstairs and getting cross about what to wear on mufti day are all glimpses into what is to come. My little girl, who would hang on my every word, laugh at my schoolgirl jokes and want to dress like mummy is breaking free, becoming independent, as she should, but it leaves me grieving a little. She is becoming a clever, beautiful girl who questions, dreams and asserts her own opinions, and all that is marvellous and to be encouraged, but I find myself remembering the words of wisdom that I smugly ignored as I was stopped in the supermarket aisles, her grinning face and blonde hair waving from the trolley ‘Enjoy this stage – it goes so fast!’. And they were right. It has. Which makes me all the more determined to savour it with Littlest who still greets me in the morning like I am the best person in the world ever.
So, with the growing up thing, I have wondered what sort of mum I’ll be (she wants to call me Mum not Mummy)? My memories of this stage are being embarrassed by my mother’s 70s boots and the fact she would sing in shops, wishing I went to Malory Towers and listening to the Parade of the Pops album my mum bought because she only listened to opera and thought she should bring us into the new decade with some idea of what the hit parade was. I was about to develop my first pop star crush (on the aforementioned Adam Ant) and started to realise that having ginger hair and glasses was not going to serve me well at school. I remember thinking nobody understood what I was feeling and that anyone over the age of 16 was a grown-up. My mum was one of the few (then) single mums and with my sister, we were a team. She would keep us up late for company and we could tell her anything.
I have read that the key thing in bringing up girls is to talk to them. They need to talk, talk, talk and according to Your Daughter – A Guide to Raising Girls ”A girl generally needs to talk…chatting in an engaged way on a regular basis…will help steer her emotional growth, as well as..keep things going even when there are difficult times.” It mentions the absent parent (if there is one) chatting through text/email to maintain an open and trusting relationship she can rely on. This all makes sense to me. As a woman, I need to talk – I even started a blog to sate my need! It figures that this is something innate and cathartic.
So, whilst I will do my best not to embarrass her with my comfy birkenstocks, corny jokes and tendency to sing along to background music in shops (HOW did I end up doing this too??) I will make sure, that above everything else, I am always there for her; to listen, comfort, celebrate, laugh and discuss. That no matter what she does, I will always love her, support her and get her through it without judgement or disdain. It will, no doubt, be a rocky road but the course of true love does not run smooth and I believe this applies to platonic love as well as the smoochy stuff.
Now, on to my son…..