It's funny how things change when kids hit 6th grade. That's about the time that kids start really noticing each other. And, consequently they start caring about their appearance.
I miss the old days when my daughter used to wear velour jogging pants and t-shirts to school everyday, and shopping for her was a breeze. She never fixed her hair, except for throwing it in a single ponytail. For my son, who insisted upon dressing himself a couple of years ago, the daily threads were always mismatched or ill-fitting. Fortunately, at that time, he didn't care what his hair looked like, so I kept his wavy locks short and, therefore, neat.
Now, they are both in middle school and suddenly vain. My daughter, with her naturally curly hair, has cancelled plans because she needed to spend the evening with hair straightening products and tools. My son, who has embraced the '70s hairstyle trend, digs in his heels when I mention a haircut, and borrows my hairbrush for grooming that perfect bangs-sweep.
It's a strange place to be in for this mom. So I'm trying to adjust. And I'm trying to be supportive. But limits are in order.
Not too long ago, my daughter started asking to borrow my makeup. That took a little getting used to, especially because she previously balked at having makeup applied for figure skating competitions. Suddenly, she is putting on mascara and lip gloss for school and our mother-daughter time is spent makeup shopping together. But there will be no Tammy Faye-Baker-faces leaving my house. The other day she asked me about liquid eyeliner. Great stuff, I told her, for when you are older and going out for a night on the town. For now, you will stick with this brown pencil. She wanted black. Brown or nothing, I told her.
Trends are a funny thing, too. The other day I was looking at the array of sneakers on my floor when I realized that my son and daughter had two pairs each of almost identical looking footwear-you know the skate-shoe type that must be worn with untied, loose laces. And when we were back-to-school-shopping, my son showed me a black and blue plaid button-down that he said was a must-have; this from the kid who last year was partial to the t-shirt that said, "My dog ate my homework and my sister was jealous (and hungry)." And how about the resurgence of the '80s style clothing? Leggings, long tops, and wide belts were all in the shopping cart this year. I couldn't tell which feeling was more overwhelming, nostalgia or nausea.
Even traveling to school, my kids care about their appearances. My son decided that he will look cool if he rides his scooter to school. My daughter will only walk because she knows biking requires a helmet and she doesn't want to be seen by her classmates in headgear.
Apparently she doesn't want to be seen by her 8th grade classmates with her mother either. My daughter recently brought home field-trip-permission slips to be completed and signed. When I got to the section "check off to volunteer to chaperone trips" I was told not to worry about that section. I gave my first born a sad, perplexed look to which she matter-of-factly replied, "Sorry, it's just not cool having your mom on trips." Reminding her of the days when she begged me to chaperone class trips did nothing. I just got a cute smile along with a second apology-as if to say, just accept it Mom.
When raising kids, the years go by fast and the changes in their appearance and demeanor are abundant; but puberty, which brings with it dramatic physical changes, also brings with it dramatic personality changes. I can't help but wonder if this is God's way of telling parents, "They are growing up, get used to it."