Friday, December 28, 2007
The Tween Christmas
It was a rough Christmas for The Girl. She is 13, the age where no one quite knows what to buy for you. At 13, you are too old for dolls, although some part of you may still yearn for them. At 13, you love new and fashionable clothes, but still feel cheated if that is all you get. It's the equivalent of an "underwear Christmas". But there are no "toys" for 13-year-olds. Basically, there are electronics and video games, the occasional board game that disappoints because you can never get anyone to sit and play it with you and there are clothes.
Don't get me wrong, she loved her presents, even the clothes and the "girly" items. But some part of her deep down inside is not quite ready to give up her child's Christmas. I understand because I was thirteen once. Thirteen is a bridge between the child you were and the woman you will be. The woman who is struggling to become tries to shake off the child that still desperately clings and it's both exhilirating and heartbreaking.
I remember when I was nearly that age, maybe 11 or 12. I had my eye on a doll that rode her own little bike and it was just the sort of doll I had always wanted but never had found under the Christmas tree. Due to one of my tomboyish escapades, I had broken a tooth some years earlier and now I was at the age where the dentist wanted to do a more permanent repair; my dental age being sufficiently matured, something other than the bonding was required. Because this was to be a long and painful procedure, my mother wanted to reward me with something that would make up for the long hours in the dentist chair and lift my spirits. I asked for that doll.
It wasn't until I actually had the doll in hand that I realized what a mistake it was to have asked for it. I wanted to play with her and feel the joy and wonder that I would have felt if I had been a few years younger, but I didn't. No, I wasn't trying to recapture my youth. I realize now, it was the child in me trying to create the experience she had always wanted and never had. A last desperate act of the child in me trying to resolve final issues and tie up loose ends as the woman slowly assumed control.
I wish I weren't aware of my tween's struggle, or why she seemed so disappointed. It would be easier to tell her to grow up and act her age, to explain that she is too old for toys and that she needed the clothes and the boots and the bath accessories. But instead, I want to go out and buy her a toy, a doll, or a stuffed animal, anything that would say, it's okay to be an in-between. As a mother, I mourn the loss of the girl-child as much as I take pride in the emergence of the young woman.
Perhaps I should tell her about my doll.