I have great kids. I really do. I tell people all the time that there is no way I could be a single mom to any other kids. My girls are kind, generous, fun and creative. So far, they are rule followers and animal lovers. I really have very little complaints. My oldest, Katie, entered 5th grade last year and has done surprisingly well. She is getting straight A’s, is Vice President on her student council and has an affection for every teacher. 90% of the time she is the little girl I know and love. 10% of the time, however, an alien emerges that I just don’t understand. This instantly emotional, life is totally unfair, crazy person emerges and baffles me until the real Katie returns. She becomes one of those 5th Grade Girls and Other Aliens I Don’t Understand.
She is not the only one who has this affliction. Apparently all 5th grade girls go a little crazy sometimes. At least by the stories I am hearing out of Katie’s day. These once sweet little ladies that I knew in elementary school that could not wait to give hugs and smile big whenever we were near now barely force a glance when I walk in.
Girls that Katie has known since she was 3 are making decisions that Katie does not agree with. She stopped talking to a few because they were cursing at recess. She ended a friendship after another cussed at a teacher! And she has come home in tears because another ‘stabbed her in the back’ by telling the teacher a lie that implicated Katie. Luckily, it was a teacher that Katie has really bonded with and the teacher knew better. But it cut Katie to the core… she trusted this girl and to have her turn on her and accuse her of something she didn’t do really hurt her feelings. To the point that I did not know what to do to make her feel better.
I was a 5th grade girl once, and a not very popular one at that, so I understand the dichotomy that makes 5th grade girls slightly nuts. Hormones, hormones and more hormones create a shift in the personalities that can not be helped. Add to that the need to join into ‘cliques’ that establish the hierarchy of the class from day one. Mix into that formula the start of looking at boys as ‘boys’ and ‘crushes’ and their whole world changes. It really is a recipe for emotional turmoil that carries them through the year.
As a mom who has ‘been there’, I really thought I would be a perfect parent during Katie’s 5th grade year.
Pause for laughter.
And still more laughter.
Truth is, thought, that this is the first year since having kids that I truly don’t know what to do or say in most situations. When she goes from laughing and joking around to tears and slamming doors before I can even process the change, I just stand there, rooted in my spot, trying to figure out what happened. I used to try to go ‘talk to her’.
In fact, my interaction with her at all during a meltdown only prolonged the drama. So, I have learned to just hang back and wait for her to come out of it. Which she does, returning to the blue eyed, wonderfully warm and loving child I know and love. The alien nut case tucked away as if it does not exist.
So, I suppose I have figured that out.
But the things with friends, the ‘stabbing in the back’ as Katie described it, the friends who are cursing at recess, the childhood friends that now don’t count her as a friend… I am at a loss on it all. When she comes home and tells me that there was a fight in the hallway or that a kid threatened to ‘blow up the school’, I go into mama bear mode and can contact the administrators.
But when it comes to emotional fears and hurt feelings I am transported back to my 5th grade year and just as baffled as to what to do or say to make her feel better. All I can do, as a mom who is watching her daughter endure, is to hug her and tell her that this, too, shall pass.
Because it will. One day.
I hope we both make it through it!