My older daughter, Ella, only recently turned eight, but she’s already showing signs of tweendom. She’s always been a very affectionate and sweet kid, and while she’s still like that about 80% of the time, she’s also become increasingly self-conscious and moody. I’m doing my best to give her space when she needs it, and am steeling myself for the years ahead.

This past Friday night, we celebrated shabbat on the Delaware shore. Friends of my mother’s who were staying in the condo next door came for dinner with their two sons, ages 14 and 8. My girls and their boys had managed to play beautifully, despite the differences in age and gender, and Ella and the older son had worked for two days straight on a VERY DEEP HOLE.

Typically, when we light candles, Ella comes up and snuggles with me while my eyes are covered. This week, she disappeared into the living room. “Give her space,” I reminded myself. “Don’t start shabbat with a lecture.”

When it came time for the girls’ blessing, Zoe, my six year old, ran right into my arms. “What are you proud of me for this week?”

As I approached Ella she hissed “Don’t touch me.”

“Ella,” I anwered, as calmly as I could, “I want to give you your blessing.” I reached over to whisper in her ear.

“DON’T TOUCH ME.”

“Ella,” I replied, softly, but  not quite as calmly. “you’re embarassing me.” (You can imagine how effective that line of argument was.)

She walked off. Everyone else politely pretended not to notice. We ate dinner. Of course, by bedtime, Ella was cuddled in my lap asking me to read her a story. Because she is, after all, eight. I took advantage of the moment to say, “Ella, I am still going to want to bless you when you are 10, 20 and even when you are 43. It’s important to me. It doesn’t mean you are a baby. OK?”

“OK.” she nodded, while stroking her lovey’s tattered ear.

And I thought sleep training was hard…..

God, please grant me the strength to parent two teenage girls.

a simpler time
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