Friday, 2 July 2010

There Goes My Baby

Truly was born on January 6th, the Epiphany. Because she was my first-born, and I was the first of my friends to have children, we brought out the fatted calf and sounded the bugles (I misplaced my vuvuzela). The three Magi came bearing gifts. We heralded her arrival with all the pomp and pageantry that befitted the second coming. Unfortunately, our scheduled parade through the streets of town was cancelled on account of the Blizzard of ’96.

We swarmed around her cot bed like flies buzzing around a picnic basket, hovering over this tiny new life, catering to each and every demand, and oftentimes anticipating the need before it was voiced. I made the switch from gazing at my own navel to gazing into her eyes, plumbing the depths of her soul, searching for the answers.

‘She’s wise,’ my sister said.
‘An old soul,’ I said.
‘Do you think she knows something we don’t?’ my sister said.
‘I hope not. That will make it difficult to keep up.’

Throughout the toddler years and pre-teen years, I managed to stay a half step ahead of Truly. This was, in part, thanks to the set of encyclopedias and later the Internet, always within fingertips’ reach. Also, when she was younger, I could get away with weaving tall tales which I fobbed off as truth. There was a time when she would come to me with all her woes, her stories of heartbreak, her moments of indecision, her cuts and bruises that required a bandage or a kiss or a special treat to dry the tears and light up her face.

However, as anyone will tell you, kids grow up. I’m not sure how I missed that section in Parenting 101. As children grow, we parents think we’ve been around the block for a while and assume that we get wiser and savvier, despite the teenager’s conviction that we know less than nothing with each progressive year.

Truly and I have a good relationship. She doesn’t get in trouble and rarely rebels. She excels in her academic studies. Unlike a few of her classmates, she steers clear of harmful substances and alcohol. Her star chart is filled with enough gold stars that I can overlook the occasional bouts of sulkiness, the wails of ‘it’s not fair’, and the bedroom that needs a ‘hazardous for humans’ sign on the door.

Recently, however, it dawned on me that maybe teenagers had a point. In some ways, we don’t know anything about their world. We know about the grades they’re getting in school, what they’re wearing when they leave for a friend’s house, the movies they’re watching, the books they read and the food they like.

But they are very selective about what they tell us when it comes to the inner workings of the teenage mind. Very little. The other day I took a trawl on Truly’s Facebook wall, perusing the tons of photos and comments, heavily peppered with enough LOLs to make me wonder if I had just laughed out loud without realizing it. Luckily, I didn’t find anything that would force Truly into a house arrest. But it brought me back to my own teenage years, the little secrets I kept from my own mother, and the conversations I had with my friends, secrets that my mother was never privy to. It’s not because I had anything to hide. I didn’t. I never rebelled until I went to university and that barely counts. It was more of a reminder that teenagers have their own language, their own location jokes (of the ‘you had to be there’ variety), crushes on boys at the school whose motto (according to the girls) is ‘God’s gift’, and a whole world that they only share with each other.

Truly is growing up and it’s a bittersweet time for me. She still has four years before university but she’s no longer the little girl who needs me to kiss it better. But you know what? She'll always be my baby.


  1. Oh sweet. She will always be your baby. I'm interested that you looked at her facebook wall - was it a bit like reading a diary? What would you have done if you had found anything dubious there?

    Some of my friends with teenagers are 'friends' with their daughters and sons on FB which I think is slightly weird. Nice but weird.

    I had loads of secrets from my Mum growing up but I also told her lots. My friends said I told her too much. It's probably true - she would use it as ammunition against me in the next fight so I learnt to clam up.

    They do have to grow away from you - my son at 10 is already developing his own little language with his friends.

  2. My daughter left her Facebook up on the computer, having forgotton to log off. I told her I looked at it and she wasn't bothered. It's not really like a diary because there's a lot of banter between the guys and girls, mostly friendly and funny, heavy on the sarcasm. And loads of photos---girls take photos of themselves constantly.

    My daughter always tells me that she talks to me more than any of her friends talk to their mothers and I know I'm lucky in that way. Hopefully, I won't use it against her!

  3. awww I'm touched, I have turned out to be a wise old soul, don't you think! x

  4. LOL Truly - you clearly are a wise old soul... and a word of warning to all mums who blog that at some point our offspring will be able to read what we write about them. :-)

    Great post. Can't bear to think of my boys growing up, but, you know what, I don't think they're listening. Sigh. It starts already.

  5. That's so true - and great to know that it's possible to come through the 'door slamming years' (where I am right now) to a more civilised state of affairs. I seem to find myself demanding 'total honesty' far too often - when I probably should just back off! It was great to meet you on Saturday.

  6. Life in a pink fibro, I know what you mean about not wanting them to grow up--my 5-yo is not listening either.

    Di@PRGraffiti, did I say we've gotten past door slamming? Ahem, I may have misled my readers slightly:) Great meeting you too.

  7. Door slamming is definitely the in thing in our household with my 10 year old - but then, after complaining abut her doing that to my elder brother recently, he reminded me that I used to do that all the time.
    How we forget!!

  8. I just recently had the 'do you read your daughter's facebook?' discussion with some of my school mum friends. One wont even allow her daughter on facebook she is so paranoid (only child--don't worry, we set her straight). We all have a look from time to time, but there's nothing toooo personal so I don't see it as an issue. I think for us it is more about just trying to learn what our daughters are like when we're not around.

    Recently I asked my daughter 'Edward or Jacob?' and she said 'NEITHER!' I was surprised because I had heard all her friends claiming one or the other. 'Seriously?' I asked her. 'Why do you want to know?' she asked back. 'I just want to know what you like, I guess.' And that was the truth. I had no idea what her 'taste' in guys was (but for Pete's sake, she's only 12 so its not really that big of a deal!). She finally confessed: 'Jacob. BUT DON'T TELL ANYONE.'

    I don't think she reads your blog. And Truly, you'd better not tell her when you next see her! ;)


  10. Hi I’m Heather! Please email me when you get a chance! I have a question about your blog. HeatherVonsj(at)gmail(dot)com