Last month, I wrote about my interview with my seven-year-old son, Ryan. My family spent the first two weeks of November at a beach house while I worked remotely and they continued virtual school. It was a perfect change of scenery for us and the weather was unseasonably warm. When I told the kids I wanted to interview them for my blog, they were super excited.
The first post was actually supposed to be this one—my daughter’s interview, but when I started asking her questions, she couldn’t answer any of them with conviction. Contrast that with my 7 year old who was excited to hop up on the barstool and talk to me endlessly about anything I asked. It was my first glimpse of how aware of others that my daughter was already becoming. At just 10 years old, in the fifth grade, she was nervous to give me a straight answer. Everything I asked her that forced her to look introspectively was “too hard” for her to answer. It was a short interview, but beyond the words, I still learned so much from her.
Some things were easy for her to answer. Like, her favorite things about me and her dad, Josh (when I rub her back and belly at bedtime and when he plays Roblox with her). And her least favorite—my cooking (gee, thanks) and when he yells.
And being able to tell me what actually makes someone a good parent? When you care about your kids and don’t send them to the orphanage. They feed you and give you clothes and a bed. They teach you responsibility and bake and put you to bed at night.
I pressed her a bit more on why she’s so hard on Josh, so unforgiving after he punishes them (vs. me, who gets forgiven quickly). I discussed this a bit in last week’s blog, but there are definitely some leftover scars from Jeff that I’m beginning to see. She told me that dads are supposed to be fun, and Josh used to be fun so I called him dad. Now he’s not so fun, so I call him Josh. All she really remembers of my ex are the happy stories I tell her. I’ve never wanted her to think badly of Jeff or have sad memories from him, so we’ve always focused on the great things about him and how much he played with her, how much she laughed with him. But she was three. It’s a little different than dealing with a growing, hormonal ten year old. And it’s heartbreaking that she ties fun as what makes Josh worthy of the title dad. I think it’s also hard for her to fully let Josh in without feeling like she’s betraying Jeff in some way.
She’s grown up learning about alcoholism in age appropriate ways too, so I asked her about drinking. These were also easy for her to answer:
What would you tell someone about drinking? If you drink too much, you get drunk and go coocoo.
What would you do if a friend offered you alcohol? I’d take it and say “Thanks” and then smash it on the floor. (A bit of a flair for the dramatic, that one.)
She’s so funny living in this hybrid world where she can be totally concrete and innocent in her logic, and then other times, she tip toes her way into teenage land and knows way more than I’m prepared to handle! That’s been the biggest perk for me this year—she’s maintained her innocence way longer than she would have had she been interacting with other kids at school.
She’s boy crazy and always has been, since pre-school. It makes me super nervous and leaves me hoping and praying that we are equipping her with all the tools to make the best decisions she can.
What makes a good boyfriend? They care about you, spend time with you, and they don’t cheat on you. Cheating is dating another girl secretly.
Do you want to get married one day? Yes. I want kids. Well I do, but BLECK—the penis in your V. (and she makes a face) Yes, that’s a direct quote.
Do you want to kiss a boy? YES. (A very enthusiastic yes) I’ve never had my first kiss.
What are you most nervous about for middle school? Cotillion. And I’m excited for it. (Cotillion is a southern tradition where sixth graders get all dressed up once a month and go to some fancy place and learn manners and dancing. I remember hating it, but good for her for being excited about it.)
Why are you excited about it too? You get your first kiss. You just hold hands, meet, and then you just do it. It’s weird, I know. (I don’t know where she got this information, but I corrected her immediately.)
And if I had any doubt that she was becoming aware of her body too, then her next answer about why she’s so obsessed with certain clothes erased all that:
I like crop top hoodies because they show your belly. I want to look cute… and look stylish. I want ripped jeans too. They’re cool.
Oooof that one stung. I hate that she’s already aware that girls “show their body” to look cute, and worse, that she’s interested in doing it! She’s so clearly stuck between two worlds right now—one of childlike innocence, where she plays all day with her little brother and is the biggest Santa and Elf believer there is, and one of growing up and falling for the pressures of society, where she worries about the hair on her arms and which boys think she’s cute or who thinks she has a small head.
She’s got so much ahead of her to discover. So much to break her heart and so much joy to uncover. With the insanity of 2020, I am doing all I can to equip her with the skills she needs to face these adversities without letting it break her.
I’m honestly not sure which will be worse—when she discovers that her elf doesn’t actually fly and report back to Santa or when a boy breaks her heart for the first time.
As always you can follow along our family journey on Instagram @theothersideofmotherhood