“Mommy, last night I had a dream that Ben kissed me!” my six-year-old daughter Lexi told me excitedly, while perched on my bathroom sink, watching me apply my makeup.
“Wow!” I said, nearly impaling my eye with the mascara wand. I was shocked that Lexi just shared her first intimate dream and floored by the coincidence that I, too, had dreamed the night before about a guy kissing me – a guy who was most definitely not my husband.
“Well, was it a good kiss?” I asked, hoping for a few more details….wondering if her kiss was the PG rated High School Musical smooch, or if by some nighttime, subconscious transference, she tapped into my R-rated dream.
“Yes, it was a good kiss…I think,” Lexi said.
“I’m going to tell Ben at school today about my dream.” she said matter-of-factly. “But I’m going to tell him that he doesn’t have to marry me because I am still marrying Justin.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I gently said. “Boys get embarrassed about these things. You can share the dreams with Mommy (yes, I still sometimes speak in the third person to her), but probably best if you don’t mention it to Ben or Justin.”
My kindergarten daughter is already fantasizing about boys. She spends hours talking to her “boyfriend” in the mirror and role playing with her dolls through elaborate tales involving dates, dances and even dashed dreams. And after buying Lexi her umpteenth Gabriella doll at Target, I watched in my rear view mirror on the drive home as she unabashedly made out with the cardboard picture of Troy Bolton that came in the package. My girl has passion and crushes and a creative mind… wonderful qualities I know I should embrace… but she scares me too.
Then there is my moody and complicated 8-year-old son Jonah who is already sequestering himself in his playroom and not letting me listen or watch as he makes up fanciful stories with his Legos. By barricading our family and even our dog out of his play area, Jonah has made it clear that he needs privacy and space…all this and the kid has only lost his two front teeth…not his virginity.
The hormones are still years away from charging through their tiny 45 pound bodies, yet I’m already dreading the inevitable horrors of living with Tweens and then….the ultimate monsters….TEENAGERS. So if you thought that the most important time to be around your children was in the early years when they were potty training and biting other kids on the playground – think again. Apparently there’s no good time to go dark or disappear at work and become a total Slacker Mom.
An article I read in Forbes probed the question about when is the most critical time to take a sabbatical from your career and stay home with your kids….when they are babies or when they are teenagers?
I haven’t yet been a mom to a teenager. But when I left my babies for a long period of time, I became guilt ridden and anxious. That could have been my post partum hormones kicking in. Or maybe just my irrational fear that if I didn’t breastfeed, play Mozart, sleep train at precisely six months, engage them with multi-dimensional, multi-sensory toys, pictures and books, and if I didn’t respond at warp speed when they first cried, my kids would grow up to be soulless, self absorbed, insecure sociopaths with the IQ’s of string beans.
But now with my daughter on the cusp of grade school, I fear for the future. Will Lexi become Sexy Lexi targeted by the inevitable Mean Girl cabal which harasses and cyber bullies? Will she get a reputation for not only dreaming about kissing boys, but really kissing them? And where will my skinny, not super athletic son fit into the political social hierarchy of high school?
I’m starting to see why moms with older kids say the important years don’t end when your children go off to kindergarten, but for when they are truly vulnerable during those horrendously awkward years of middle school and high school when kids bodies and brains collide with hormonal rage, social pressure and confusion.
According to the Forbes article, it’s easiest to balance everything during the relatively simple years from ages 5 to11 when your kids have regular routines and before their lives get ruined by pimples, braces, boyfriends and SATs.
Yesterday, I cried dropping my daughter off for the last day of kindergarten…another milestone in her journey to growing up. And then as I drove home last night from work, I saw a limo surrounded by anxious parents wielding cameras as their teenage kids smiled awkwardly but dutifully for them – clearly eager to get to their new milestone – prom.
While Lexi’s innocent kissing dream was just a dream, I hope that in a dozen years on her prom night, Lexi will still feel close enough to share afterwards with me her prom kiss – and hopefully, it will only be just a kiss.