Growing Pains: My Not-So-Little Little Girl


Well, the kid is back.  After seven weeks away at sleep-away camp, she’s arrived safely home, and our family is finally together again.  I won’t go on again about how much I missed her, or about how hard it was to have her gone for so long, or even about how annoyed I was that she only wrote me three letters all summer (one of which was written solely to complain that everyone had a Nintendo DS except for her). All I’ll say is that she had a great time, and I honestly can’t decide if it was a better experience for her (I can be independent!  I can live on my own!) or me (I can let go! I can live without her!).

With that settled, the question that everyone wants to know is, did she change?  Does she seem different?  The answer is, yes and no.  I’ll start with the yes: mostly, it boils down to the fact that she learned a few things.  For example, there are some words in her vocabulary that were not there when she left in June, and I’m not talking about SAT words.  Also, she now knows how to use a tampon, thanks to a well-meaning counselor who was clearly traumatized by her own lack of period preparation, and is therefore on a mission to spare every pre-pubescent girl she encounters the same fate.  She also discovered that pubic hair does not actually grow in neat little strips, contrary to what she’s seen on her mom.  And finally, she seems to have entered Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret territory.  As in, there’s a lot of boob talk, mostly revolving around when she’ll get them and how big they will become.

Otherwise, though, she’s still the same kid.  She’s still funny and silly and innocent, and she still whines when she doesn’t get her way.  She didn’t try any new foods at camp, so she still only eats carbs, steak and cheese.  And she still becomes catatonic when she’s watching TV. She still likes to put together funky outfits that don’t match yet somehow look amazing anyway, she still yells at her brother, and much to my deep, deep chagrin, when she came home, she still had her heart set on getting bangs.

The bangs have been a source of tension between us for two years now, and when she last got her hair cut in May, I told her that we’d revisit the issue when she got home from camp in August.  You have to understand, my daughter has hair that can only be described as sick.  And I mean that in the most positive of ways.  She has the hair that when you see it in a magazine, you rip out the page and take it to your hairdresser, and he laughs at you and says you don’t have that kind of hair.  It’s long and just a little wavy but with the texture of fine, straight hair, and she has natural blonde highlights that make her whole head look like spun gold.  You know how Jennifer Aniston sometimes has that beachy, wavy thing going on?  My daughter’s hair looks like that, except without a team of stylists to make it that way.  Like I said, it’s sick.  And yet, into this hair she wanted to cut bangs. 

I took her for a haircut a few days after she came home (it had that ratty, I’ve-been-in-the-pool-twice-a-day-all-summer look to it), and as we drove to the salon, I noticed that there was something else that was new about her: she had become much more persuasive in her arguments.  For the first time, she didn’t seem to care that I thought bangs were a bad idea.  She wanted them, and my resistance wasn’t going to stop her from getting them.  It was her head, she argued, and she wanted to try it out. 

After a long, long, LONG pause, I realized that she was right.  After all, I sent her to camp so that she would become independent and able to make decisions on her own.  And I had spent all summer convincing myself that letting go a little was good for me.  And so, I sucked it up and I went with it.  I let her get the stupid bangs (not bangs, exactly – what she really wanted were short layers around her face, she just didn’t know how to articulate that.  But still, I hated the idea just the same).

So now that that’s settled, the question everyone wants to know is, do I like it?  Do I think the bangs look good?  What I’ve realized is that the answer is, if I’m going to encourage my daughter to be independent, what I think doesn’t really matter.



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