Creative Child

The Pre-Preteen: What I’ve Learned Raising a Daughter

by Jessie Wingard

I saw a cute picture of a little girl on Facebook last week and it said “You only have 940 Saturdays with her from the day she’s born until she leaves for college”. Talk about a punch to the gut.

When I was pregnant for the first time, we were one of the few couples that didn’t choose to find out whether we were having a boy or a girl. 10 years ago, when I heard the doctor say, “It’s a girl,” I have to admit that I was a little relieved to know that I’d be raising a daughter. Boys scared me. They were unknown territory.

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I’m a girl. I know girls. I knew that I would dress her up and hoped that she would love jewelry and getting her hair done. When I was pregnant for the second time and just about to give birth to her brother (I now have two boys, and besides the bugs and bruises, they aren’t that scary, after all), I took her for her first manicure. She was two, and my dream of raising a daughter was a dream come true.

As I've navigated the journey of raising a daughter and two sons, I've learned a lot about myself. But in the past few months I have learned even more about my daughter.

At 10, she has always been steady as a rock. It seemed that she just didn’t let things get to her. Then, all of a sudden—boom! As I did her hair one day for volleyball pictures, I looked in the mirror and saw what we call, ‘angry tears’ brimming her eyes.

I was in shock! Her hair looked beautiful. I had no clue what provoked her tears, and asking her what was wrong turned out to be a mistake. She couldn’t believe that I’d done her hair. I calmly tried to remind her that we’d done her hair like this plenty of times, and that she looked very cute, and to please just get it together. She stomped off to her room, slammed the door and didn’t emerge from her hiding place until it was time to go.

I’d been watching my friends with older daughters, and wondering when that turbulent stage that comes with raising a daughter would happen for us. There is no more wondering now. It is upon us.

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At the beginning of all this, these little outbursts would happen once a month, even less sometimes. Now, we are in full-fledged “pre-preteen” territory.

Physically she’s changing, and it terrifies me. When I catch her mesmerized by Minecraft or Harry Potter for the 17th time, I find myself staring at her. I can still see glimpses of the little girl who would cry when she had to be away from me, who had the cutest little voice and whose tiny dimpled hands had to hold my finger because they weren’t big enough to hold my hand.

Now as I’m raising a daughter approaching the preteen stage, she is almost as tall as I am. She wants to borrow my clothes, wear my make up, and be fiercely independent.

Besides navigating through all the physical changes, and the hormones that are taking her hostage, there’s the girl drama. We lucked out in this aspect of raising a daughter because when she was 6 weeks old, she met her best friend. They are thick as thieves. They miss each other desperately when they’ve been apart for more than a few days. There is no drama and no competition. Her best friend happens to be a boy, by the way.

So crisis averted, right?

No. This year she had to learn how to stand up for herself. There were times when she had conflicts with rambunctious boys, and had to ask why these things were happening. She’s had to defend what she values, even if it’s as simple as her outfit choices.

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