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September 17, 2009

The Sudden Changes in the Life of a Fourth-Grade Girl

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As the mother of a nine-year-old girl, I know that when she hits the teen years I'll need to buckle up for a bumpy ride!  Adolescence is notorious for being a time when our children descend into a teen-age black hole from which they don't emerge until at least the end of high school.  I figured I had a few good years to go until I had to face those inevitable changes in my PunditGirl.

Apparently, I've been in denial.

Pretty much every day since she was in kindergarten, PunditGirl has insisted that just dropping her off at the school's front door was not acceptable to her.  I had to walk in with her every day, past the front office while holding hands and accompany her to her classroom before saying goodbye.  She's not alone -- since parents are welcome to do that at her school, loads of moms and dads are always in the halls -- helping with jackets or snowpants, getting things stowed in cubbies and giving that last hug (or air hug!) before running off for the day.  I knew that lovely ritual would end one day, I just didn't want to think about it.

That day is now.

She's feeling her way, saying she still wants me to come in to the school with her, but then she runs in by herself when she catches a glimpse of her classmates.  I know it's good that she wants to do that and it's just one of the many steps on her path of independence and growing up. 

But there are some other realities I'm having a little problem with.  Like the fourth-grade handbook that came home last week with this little blurb under the "Appropriate Clothing" section:

Make sure you use deodorant, etc., as it becomes necessary (you grow up a lot in 4th grade!)  :) 

I know, I know -- I should have seen this coming.  The longer showers.  The incessant hair brushing.  The requests for more privacy ("MO-om! I'm trying to change here!"). Even though PunditGirl is still wearing her tomboy outfits and her Chuck Taylors of which she is so proud, it's time for me to come to grips with the fact that in the not-too-distant future, I'll be doing the 21st century equivalent of what my mom did when I was heading toward the end of my elementary school years when she handed me the pamphlet from Modess about the "changes" that would start happening.

Changes.

I'm so not ready for them.  I love my fourth-grader as a little girl.  But I see the others kids on the playground and I'm not blind to the fact that there are some who are not much older than her who already need the euphemistically termed "training bra," taking slightly more provocative poses as they stand when they think no one is watching.  

I guess it's time to start getting ready even if I'm not.  Good thing I know I've got some experts who will be me along the way!

When Joanne isn't trying to manage her anxiety over having a "tween," you can find her getting passionate about political issues that impact women at her place, PunditMom.

Original 50-something Moms blog post.

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