Saturday, February 4, 2012

Growing Girls

I once bought a book called Growing a Girl. Never read it - books and babies don't mix - but I loved the sound of that when my daughters were squishy little beans, not long from the beanpod, when holding, feeding and changing just about did it. Now, I'm Jack standing in front of his overgrown beanstalk with those two, wondering how to dial it back a bit.

Daisy's having social challenges at school. She can be perceptive, sensitive, and expressive about feelings, sometimes painfully so, just like her mama. But what's not like her mama, and why I'm kind of scratching my head trying to figure out how to help her, is that she's a true extrovert. Spending time with her is to hear her thinking because she is so incredibly vocal. It's only people I trust who know how neurotic I can be, and lucky for me, there are a lot of mofos I don't trust. With Daisy, she has the added compulsion to constantly vocalize her authentic feelings, sometimes to an entire class of third graders.

The kid learned her parents were divorcing a little over a year ago, so it's not surprising that she hasn't been her most calm and resilient self at school. I understand why she clings to BFF and maybe a few other holdouts from the preschool years during recess instead of making new friends in her class. And I know that in the long run, she'll be able to harness her unique mix of sensitivity and capacity for expression to achieve something that matters to her. But for now, she is struggling and vulnerable.

Violet too is struggling, but for the most part, she struggles at home or when she has to leave home and always with her mama. She tells me almost every morning before kindergarten, "I just want to be abshent. How come all the other kids get to be abshent?" She cries a lot and faces the world with the emotional equivalent of clenched fists until she loses it. The other morning Violet's father and I were practically kneeling in front of her, trying to get her off to school during an unusually complicated morning handoff. Violet started to sob when she realized it was daycare day. With tears spilling over eyelashes, she screeched, "People are mean to me dere!" You're only there once a week! Who's mean to you? Nailing a sarcastic tone that would make a teenager proud, she snapped back, "UM..." before listing the oh-so-obvious mean people to her dumbshit parents, and yes, her sister was on the list.

Growing girls is complicated.

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