Chattering Mind

Chattering Mind

Who Were You When You Were 12?

posted by chattering mind

You cannot imagine what a queen of the earth I was when I was 12 years old…Ah! how you would have loved me, and how I miss myself!Colette

I’ve heard that whenever a woman feels indecisive or depressed, she should recall who she was when she was 12. At 12, you’re in touch with the truest parts of yourself. The idea of adapting yourself to please someone else is fairly alien.

I believed I was a witch when I was 12. My friend Suzy Clayton (who went on to marry a minister) and I told fortunes and doused with a crystal pendant necklace I purchased at our church’s rummage sale. My friend Debbie Kopp and I spent hours that same year making tiny pieces of doll furniture out of mud, twigs and grass for our four-inch-high, tree-dwelling imaginary friends we named Violet and Rose. At 12, we were old enough to ride around the Chicago suburbs on our bikes, but still young enough to fully exalt in the wild imaginings of childhood.

Do today’s girls partake in a true girlhood? Given the previous post on early puberty, how do you think the lives of girls are changing? I have ideas, and some sense of foreboding, but I honestly don’t know. So much depends on the home environment. What do you think?

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posted August 8, 2006 at 12:16 am

When I was 12 I had migraine headaches and was extremely depressed. My nurse mother would ask me what’s wrong, but if I dared say I felt depressed she would yell at me and tell me in that stern, WASP voice not to be depressed. It made me think there was something wrong with me intellectually, mentally, spiritually, emotionally; well, pretty much in every way possible. I’d eventually be guilted and shamed into no longer bringing up my problems or feelings. Being the black sheep of the family and the whole school was terrible. Oh, wait, you wanted heartwarming stories didn’t you……….>

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posted August 8, 2006 at 2:22 am

Do today’s girls partake in a true girlhood? I believe they do, but “true” has shifted in meaning. Still lots of image-consicousness — which I remember well — but a (seeming) lack of akwardness that seemed to mark my adolscence. I see an often unrestrianed focus on things only money can buy, which I believe is a product of both our neighborhood and the culture at large. I hear a lot of big dreams – college, travel, families, saving something or other, starting this or that. And a lot of time spent on music, clothes, cute boys and IMing each other every waking minute. A little disturbing to me is an unsettledness about boys, or moreso, their value in relation to them. Uncertainty about boundaries is what I’m hearing. This is VERY different from my 12-year-old self; my friends and I all knew the limits. And we all thought of ourselves as valuable. But enough about them!!!>

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posted August 8, 2006 at 2:52 am

When I was twelve I lived in a safe neighborhood where we could wander the streets and safely stay out after dark. I rode a 3-speed bike which I bought with my own money. I was in a new junior high school in a new city & state where I was an A student as were my new friends Diane, Anne, Jenny, Ticia, Ellen and Diane G. I went steady for the first time with the popular Danny S. whose mother was dieing of cancer. I babysat to earn money so I could make my own clothes which I copied from Seventeen and Glamour. Depending upon my mood, I dressed like a secretary, babydoll, co-ed, or hippie. My best friend, Diane, and I read everything written by Austen, Hardy, Balzac, Dostoyevsky and Agatha Christie. We planned our future trips to Europe and what we would wear when we met the Rolling Stones, the Pope, a Buddhist and Christie Brinkley. I began learning Spanish from Mrs.E who inspired me for the rest of my life. My world history teacher, Mr.G., helped Diane and I do the research and write the letter to Gov. Rockefeller, asking him to commute the sentence of a man we felt was wrongly sent to Attica. We continued to write for years. We never met the man. (Ok, now I’m crying) I fought with my older sisters all the time. They would tell me I was adopted and I would ask God to make this true. (I’m not and He didn’t.) I got my period, an event that was treated with clinical precision by my RN mother. My father was often away on business and gardening or putzing around when he was home. My oldest sister told me how babies were made then gave me a copy of Life magazine with in-vitro photos by Lennart Nilsson. My mother and I waged an extended war over my reading “Lady Chatterly’s Lover”. I painted on every blank surface I could find and wrote on every piece of paper not already taken. I remember sitting with Diane on the front lawn of the middle school, at dusk, trying to spit cherry pits as far as the roadway. Diane and I so successfully predicted snow days that our principal would call us before making any announcements. I discovered the essay, “Freedom to Breathe” by Alexander Solzhenitzyn, which I still carry in my wallet.>

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posted August 8, 2006 at 3:39 pm

For more information on teen depression and suicide prevention visit>

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posted August 9, 2006 at 1:43 am

I understand the comment Kathy made about being “guilted and shamed” about one’s genuine feelings. If the question posed here was “Who were you when you were 14?”, I would be checking out To me, that is as telling a story as where I was at an enchanted 12.>

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posted August 9, 2006 at 2:57 am

I guess it is pretty weird to be suicidally depressed when you’re not even a teen yet but some people are. I’m sorry there are no online or national resources for those under 13 who are suffering mentally and emotionally. Sorry if my story and online resource were inappropriate.>

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posted August 10, 2006 at 10:54 pm

From a feature in today’s New York Times “An Impressionable Age”… Savvier than their predecessors about trends, brand names and quality and hipper about the image they hope to project many teenagers are unabashedly style-struck. Accordingly, merchants and trend watchers predict that many teenagers will be investing sums, which previously have gone to electronic gadgets, on wardrobes that are meant to be the envy of their peers. … It s a question of trying to look more adult. Teenagers today are 12 going on 25. “>>

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