By Sumana Ghosh-Witherspoon
I never thought my sweet little 5-year-old would turn in to a teenager overnight...well, it happened. Suddenly I was regularly met with bored eye rolls and grunts like "Ugh" or exclamations like "No way, Jose!" I knew this was coming in another eight to ten years (which is why I have already been browsing boarding school catalogs), but now? At age 5?
I believe it all started a few months ago, when she began Kindergarten. Within the first week I was getting a lot of "smart talk." Me: "How was school? What did you do today?" Ameli: "Fine...you know what I did, you've been to Kindergarten..." Me: "Maybe I have, but that was a long time ago." Ameli: "Yah, that's cause you're really old, like how old are you? 9?" Defeated, I went back my errands and she went back to her iPad.
Soon it was time for her first night of homework. As I was trying to figure out the note from her teacher and what she was supposed to work on, she began "I know what to do Mama!" and "Noooo, that's not how we're supposed to do it!" Sheesh! My husband and I gave her a lecture and a time out.
Next it was Game Night at her school. Since her dad is the one who usually picks her up, I was excited to meet her afterschool teachers and others at the school. As we were huddled around a bowl of snacks and bingo cards, a man came up to us and said "Hello Ameli!" and looked at me expectantly. Me: "Who's that?" Ameli, eyes downcast: "No one!" After much prodding I realized it was one of her teachers...she admitted later that she was embarrassed for me to talk to him! Embarrassed? Of me? I couldn't believe it...here I was thinking I am one of those cool parents, in the know and generally "with it"! (Perhaps using the term "with it" doesn't help my case, but you know what I mean.)
This time we had to have a meaningful talk with her...we delved a little and discovered several underlying concerns on her part regarding cultural identity, dealing with a new sibling (her baby sister joined us not quite a year ago), and hanging out with older kids at her after-school program that had all contributed in creating this teenage mutant kindergartener. At least we were able to find some of the triggers and can now act accordingly to hopefully correct the problem.
Then late last night Ameli woke with a start after an apparent nightmare and came running into my arms, teary-eyed, exclaiming, "Mama, I heard a scary noise in my room, I need a hug!" There she is, I thought, my little girl is still in there. Maybe I do have more time before eye rolls become a way of life!