Eleven years. That is the current age of my beautiful daughter, my firstborn, the one who made me a mama. Apparently, that is also the age that little girls become “mean girls” and start to bully others, including their “best friends.” This is the age where the drama begins, where hurtful words begin to be spewed, and where negative actions threaten life-long friendships.
Over the past six weeks or so, my daughter has, unfortunately, begun to have these negative experiences that seem to come with age eleven. It began with the discovery of a profane exclamation written on the playground treehouse. This scribbled proclamation declared that my daughter was a B word. This incident spiraled into additional episodes of bullying, including a rumor that my daughter sent a picture of her butt to a boy. Yes, another fifth-grade girl started a rumor that my eleven-year-old daughter was “sexting.” Without using that word of course, because they are eleven, and I really don’t think they know what that word even means! (At least I hope not…)
As a result of this unacceptable behavior and negativity towards my child, I have engaged in multiple emails with her teacher, as well as her principal, and I’ve even gone in for a face-to-face meeting with her teachers and the assistant principal. I proceeded to declare my frustrations and worries at this meeting, and I couldn’t help but tear up and require the assistance of a tissue to dry my eyes, fortunately halting the running of my mascara. So yeah, fifth grade has been rough. Eleven years old has proved to be our hardest age yet. And technically, she hasn’t even begun middle school!
So last weekend, I decided that my best girl and I needed some “Mommy/Daughter” time, just the two of us. I asked her what she wanted to do, and after some discussion, we decided to be tourists in our own town and go downtown to the Charleston Market and visit the Pineapple Fountain at Waterfront Park. We walked the market and did some fun shopping at the various booths.
One booth was that of a lady who did Henna tattoos. And, according to my girly girl, we both absolutely, 100%, needed Henna tattoos! At first, I objected, but this girl has a way of winning me over. So we decided on getting a matching design, one for each of us on our right hands. I told my daughter the story of how my own mama allowed me to get a Henna tattoo in Myrtle Beach twenty years ago when I was sixteen. I told her how I came home and my dad thought the tattoo was real and proceeded to completely lose his temper, screaming at me while my mother laughed uncontrollably at his reaction, until she finally told him it wasn’t a real tattoo. My daughter found this story quite comical, and her smile and laughter made me quite happy at that moment.
After our tattoos were finished, we proceeded to go to Waterfront Park and sit on a bench in front of the beautiful Pineapple Fountain. We watched so many people come and go, most of whom were taking pictures in front of this gorgeous Charleston landmark. But we didn’t take a picture together. We simply sat next to each other with the sun on our faces and enjoyed each other’s company. I didn’t need a photo to remember this moment. Instead, I internalized this memory deep in my brain so that I will cherish it for years to come.
We never talked about school, the mean girls, or any of the current negativity in her life. This day wasn’t about all that. This day was simply a day for the two of us to spend together, bonding over activities we loved.
This was a day for us to do something fun and be happy together.
Life is super busy right now. The demands of work and motherhood on me, and school and extracurricular activities on her, as well as the needs of my husband and my son, have us living crazy lives that don’t leave much time to slow down, relax, and enjoy the moment. We both spend too much time on our phones and we don’t engage in enough face-to-face conversation.
We have a good relationship, my daughter and I, and I hope to keep it this way. But I know that with puberty and the upcoming teenage years, this might not be the case. And so now, more than ever, I need to make our mother/daughter relationship a priority and remind her that I am always there for her and that I will always be on her team. I’m most definitely my daughter’s biggest fan, and she needs to know that, today and every day. And what better way to show her that than taking time out of my busy life to spend a day with her shopping and getting Henna tattoos?!
Being Your Daughter’s Biggest Cheerleader
Moms, take the time to really love your daughters. Do the fun things with them, talk about the things they want to talk about, give them your undivided attention, and let them know that, no matter what, you are their cheerleader! Remind them that there is never anyone who will love them as much as you do, and pray that someday they, too, will have a daughter of their own and be able to experience this immense love. Because, even on the days that the mean girls come out, at least my baby girl knows she will come home to ME, a mother who loves her unconditionally. She needs to know this. And, thanks to days together like last weekend, I think my daughter indeed knows of my love for her and how important she is in my life.
So spend the days together. Laugh together. Cry together. Tell each other “I love you” every single day. And, for God’s sake, get the Henna tattoo. (After all, it only lasts a week or two!)