Tag Archives: Tweens

Day Two: Top Five

The top five things I realized today, Day 2 with Hope.

5. Hope is on the come up.

What, pray tell is the come up, you ask?  It’s when your socio-economic status rises or “comes up.”  I live a comfortable life.  I’m not rich and I dang sure am not wealthy.  I’m comfortable, and Hope will be comfortable.   But Hope thinks I’m rich, a notion I must disabuse her of, and that by adoption, she’s rich.  We’re e traveling a path where she asks for things because she’s testing me and because she wants to show off to her friends back home.

We endured an hour long power struggle during an outing today when she complained either that I wouldn’t buy her anything or that I wouldn’t buy her the things she really wanted.  Hope chose gaudy stuff that was either reminiscent of a rap video (think Run DMC chains) or the biggest bottle available of Justin Bieber’s Girlfriend perfume, even though she admitted she doesn’t really like to wear fragrance.    These things represent a level of affluence for her.  At one point, before attempting to stomp off in a huff, she said what was she supposed to tell her friends back in Washington?

Sigh…We will gently sort this out over time.

4. You haven’t lived until a 12 year old tries to convince you that the 13 year old she’s crushing has a hot body.

No, really this was the highlight of my day.  Had I known I could be having this kind of conversation with my daughter I might have had/adopted kids years ago.  So she’s telling me about some little boy she is digging, and she goes on to describe him and then stops short.  We’ve had these kinds of chats recently about boys; I’m careful not to overreact to her crush confabs.  We’ve been building some trust currency during these chats about boys so she’s increasingly forthcoming.

When she stopped, I probed.  “So…what is it?  He’s cute, pretty eyes, curly hair…Are light skinned brothas back in style?” She giggled and replied, “You’re close but not really…” “Oh, so we’re talking about his body, ok.  Spill the deets.”  “OMG when he takes his shirt off…(ABM’s internal alarm goes off:  when the hell have you been privy to seeing him disrobe???)…his chest….”   Oh, ok, so he’s got a nice body at 13???  Really?  “Yeah, he doesn’t look his age, he looks a little older.”

What, his birdcage chest looks 15?

Girl, bye!!!

Seriously, these conversations are both hilarious and enlightening.  I know that Hope will need vigilant supervision, but she can crush all she wants as long as she tells me.   I was only a little older than her when I fantasized that I was going to have Ralph Tresvant’s (New Edition) baby one day.

3. My girl misses her dad Every. Single. Day.

I’ve often told friends and family that I believe grief to be a horribly destructive emotion.  It’s such an amalgamation of so many other messy emotions—sadness, hurt, anger, loss…It’s just wicked.  I’ve heard stories about Hope’s dad that didn’t paint him in a very good light.  He’s gone now, but Hope has him up on an incredible pedestal.   He was her primary parent, and she adored him.  And then he was gone.  And people said bad things about him and said to get over it.  She hasn’t.  It’s going to take more time and a lot more maturity to get her to a place where she can really handle that loss in a healthy way.  She talks about him a lot, and I’m ok with that.  He isn’t a threat to me.  I don’t intend to try to make her stop missing him or to totally rewrite the history she’s constructed to help her remember him.  It is what it is.  It will take her time to get there.  Her grief makes me sad though.

2.  I know that she really doesn’t want to be pack leader, sulking notwithstanding.

For the most part, Hope is good about how we are constructing boundaries for her.   Since she’s out of school, we have designated school time.  There’s tablet time, which thanks to a nifty app shuts ish down!  We had an epic negotiation session over brunch about chores, allowance and behavioral expectations.  In short, Hope was happy with the boundaries as long as they were laid out, some things were negotiated and the consequences—both positive and negative–were clear.

That was fine until I the screen time app kicked her out of a game and she didn’t win her last game of solitaire before screen time expired and I ixnay’d hooking her DS to the house wifi.  And let me tell you, her sulking stomp game is strong.   The screen time combos sent her into a pout spiral on the couch.  She argued that she had not won one game of solitaire yet; I replied, well maybe tomorrow will fare better.  And she went all, “Mr. Gorbachev , tear down that wall” on me.  <blank stare>

Again, girl, bye.

She nearly went apoplectic when I said she would have to earn my trust in her on the internet post placement to get wifi access to the internet on her DS.  Internet access will be a relatively new thing for her, and I’m not interested seeing it abused.  Also, I know she is young and not too discerning about folks so she needs a heavy hand around the access issue.  Even if and when I said yes, I’d have to set it up to change the password daily in order for both of us to really make it work.

Whatever the scenario and ensuing meltdown, Hope longs to feel safe and secure.  She needs to know I care and that our extended family cares.  Being the boss is hard work that she really doesn’t want to do.  She wants to be a kid.  I’ll let her flex from time to time, but Mom’s the boss with ultimate veto power.  She don’t want none of this responsibility, not really.

1. I am so a morning person and Hope is not.  I know I will be the one to do the primary adapting.

And it’s ok.  No, really it is.  Change is good.  Reframing productivity and success is good.  There shouldn’t be any sob stories for my lost productivity or any whining about why Hope doesn’t like mornings.  Besides, did you really think I didn’t think my life would get turned upside down?

We are creatures of habit and preference.  Mine happen to be early to rise and conquer the world.  Hers happen to be rise around midday and world domination can wait until evening.  She is at her most active and most productive between the hours of 4 and 7pm.  I see it and I feel it. It is exhausting since I start winding down around 2pm; I am most productive between 5-10am.  But this is how she’s wired.

Some days I will learn to sit down more and some days she will be up with the proverbial chickens.  I’ll still get my before dawn workouts in and my morning quiet, reflection time.  I hope to get some writing done tomorrow morning before she gets up.  I look forward to adapting to a more lively afternoon life, when normally I’m winding down.  It’s really all good.

Oh there’s so much more I could write.  Stay tuned for an interesting hair focused post as she emotionally toys with wearing her hair out when she moves here permanently.  Just two days and seeing me with my hair and so many naturalistas walking around the DC area, and she’s thinking.   It’s good stuff.


Just Three Days More!

Time has flown even when it felt as though it were dragging.  Hope and I are ready to get this visit going!  The room is ready; I put up the bubble decals and put on the lovely new bedding with the personalized pillow case.  There’s still at lot for us to pick out: more shelving and storage, lighting and another piece of furniture.  She tells me she has 11 boxes of stuff to ship here (so far), but Foster Mom assures me that some of those boxes are filled with foolishness, like nearly empty lotion bottles, that *may* get lost in transit.  We’ll see.

I just can’t wait to give her a hug and bring her home.  When we first decided on a two and a half week visit, it seemed like such a long visit.  Now that the visit starts in three days, I am already sad about saying goodbye.  My sadness won’t consume the joy of the visit, but just knowing that I have to take her back and not knowing when she will be home again just makes me sad.

I’m delighted to step away from work for a few weeks.  I love my job; I really do.  I think each of us, deep down, hopes that we are so important to our jobs and careers that stepping  away for a while may cause near chaos for the folks around us.  I know that life goes on without you though; the office will be fine, and I happen to be in a supportive environment where nearly everyone will respect my nesting time and leave me alone.  Of course there’s always that one person from the planet Zoron who is dumb enough to call, but I figure I’ll deal with her when the time comes.   I do have to give a speech early one morning during my leave; I couldn’t get out of it.  Hope will get a chance to see new mom at work since she will have to tag along.

I have to also admit that I’m delighting in telling folks I’m going on leave because it gives me an opportunity to tell some colleagues I’ve known for years this special news.   I’ve been with my office and my members for 12 of the last 16 years; it’s been very cool to just give a peek behind the veil of my life.  I’m a new mom!

In other news…How is it that my lovely Hope, who has a beautiful singing voice and a natural gift for percussion, is so taken by the tenor saxophone?  Don’t get me wrong, I love that she loves music.  I love that she loves learning music.  I love that she wants to try.  I love that she wants to sing for me, and I love that she wants to play her sax for me.

But, oh my goodness, it really sounds like she’s killing a flock of geese when she plays.  It’s sharp and flat and just…horrible.

There I said it.  Yeah, I said it! Last night’s saxophone concert was in a word awful, but I oooh’d and ahhhh’d  and clapped.  I am practicing not grimacing because I don’t want to grimace in front of her—well at least not too much.

I have many friends with kids who have endured painful band and choir concerts over the years.  I have seen their comments on social media.  I heard the stories of would-be bleeding ears.

Reading Facebook comments and hearing the stories is just not the same as enduring it live.  I have a new respect for these folks.

Wow, last night’s musical concert was a mix of what kind of sounded like Jingle Bells, St. Nick, Frere Jacques, and some other songs  that I really, really struggled to make out but simply could not.

Lord knows, I love this child and want to nurture her gifts and talents.  She wants to take band when she moves here and I totally support that move.  But ABM is going to HAVE to get some noise cancelling ear buds (the all-out headphones will be much too obvious!).

I suppose it could be worse, she could be playing a straight wind instrument.


Hope’s PINK Room

That color right there in that short video is PINK. Yes, I’m yelling PINK. It is bright. It is cloying. It has purple undertones. It is bright. It is…very, very PINK.

Hope is going to love it.

Grammy fretted that her worst fear was that the pink was going to come out Pepto Bismal pink. I was not worried about that; I love color and have come to realize that there are shades worse than Pepto pink. This pink is bright, but in its own way charming.

It’s like the paint version of Hope. It’s sweet, yet sassy. Bold but sensitive (when accented). It’s feminine with a pop of bubble gum. It’s fun but deliberate in a way that says “I know what I want because I chose this bright arse, almost assaulting light fuchsia paint to put on the walls.”

I love it not because I like the color (truth be told I kinda hate it but it’s growing on me); I love it because Hope chose it, and it is the base of my decorating vision for her forever room (or at least it will probably be decorated this way for a couple of years. Hope stays, that paint is on borrowed time!).

And Stuff

I’m on the phone with Hope last night, and she’s singing her favorite songs to me.  I love this kid!  She’s always reading something to me or singing to me.  I know when she does that, that’s she’s locked in; it’s one of the ways we bond.   Tonight she’s serving up a Justin Bieber concert.

And if I ever see Justin Bieber, I’m punching that little punk in the face and the gut.  Does this dude really have my kid singing about BJs on this song Hold Tight?  What in the H-E-double hockey sticks is going on??

Picture it:

Hope:  [Singing away, she’s got a nice voice by the way.]

ABM: [Furiously, googling song lyrics so I can read along and get a better sense of what Bieber is singing about]

Hope:  Ok, I’m done.

ABM:  Hope that was awesome!  But, er, um, those lyrics…they are a bit naughty don’t you think?

Hope:  [Exasperated] What do you mean?  I mean, all of his songs are about love.

ABM:  Well while you were singing, I looked up the lyrics so I could follow along.

Hope:  You looked up the lyrics?

ABM:   Yeah, I do that.  So, what do you think this song is about?

Hope:  He’s talking about kissing in this song…and stuff.

Yeah, it’s that “and stuff” that has me wanting to limit her musical exploration to instrumental jazz and gospel forever.   Nevertheless, we had a brief discussion about music, lyrics “and stuff.”  It went ok, even if it was a wee bit awkward; I just didn’t want to miss this opportunity to start talking about some important topics.

Bieber clearly thinks we missed the naughtiness of the lyrics, saying, “I am a hopeless romantic so when I love someone, I never want to let them go. This song is about the rush you get when you have that feeling. No matter how hard you try, you can’t let that person go. You just want to hold on as tight as you can. I tried to capture that with this one.”

Yeah, ok Biebs…Ok, I see you.

i see you gif photo: i see you tumblr_ljo9axQmug1qgira5o1_500-1.gif

I’ve been around the block more than a few times.  I love good lyricists, and I love reading lyrics.  I like to pick them apart, figuring out what they mean, how artists put the words over music, how the lyrics stand alone.  Not all lyrics are poetry; some lyrics are just a bunch of crap strung together.  These lyrics are actually clever; just hidden enough but hardly hidden at all.

If Hope wasn’t signing them over and over, and wasn’t proclaiming Hold Tight as her new favorite song, then I probably could see the lyrics through a different lens. The lyrics aren’t poetry, but they are clever in riding the line that allows Bieber to deny alternative meanings.

The upside of this new Bieber vendetta of mine is realizing that music will likely be a gateway for us to talk about all kinds of things, including sex “and stuff.”  That’s a very good thing.  I like that she keeps a song book and carefully transcribes lyrics.  I look forward to nurturing a love of lyrics derived from creative writing that results in really good poetry over music.

In the meantime I need to go look up lyrics for all these little teen singers to see what’s going on in that world.  Fun times ahead.

Foot in Mouth Syndrome

Hope was excited to get my letter and apparently liked my picture.  Things were going just fine until she got to a line in my letter in which I expressed excitement about tucking my kid in at night.

Whoops!  I stumbled on my first tween-angst-filled rock on the path.  Sigh.

Now I know that tweens are probably more like, “Get off me, get off me, get off me!” at bedtime rather than, “Hey will you read me a story?”  What I meant to convey was that I enjoy the ritual of just saying good night to family members at the end of the day.  When I’m visiting my parents I make a point of kissing them good night before we all retire for the evening.  It’s not all smoochy, smoochy, tuck you in kinda stuff, but it’s just a family acknowledgement of affection.  But with Hope it was clear that my excitement of kissing my 12 year old kid was not cool.  I sent the wrong message.

Well, in tween fashion, Hope let us all know that she wasn’t down with the “tucking in” stuff in a literal way.  She wondered if I really wanted a younger daughter instead of her.  Good grief, <crack> minor heartbreak, followed by lots of reassuring that no, I want Hope, in all her tween-esque, “please don’t reject me” glory.  I’m reading the update also in my own “please don’t reject me” glory.

We’ll have to create our family rituals. It’s all good.  It did feel like I made my first big stumble though.  I don’t want to upset Hope, and I certainly don’t want to scare her.  I have a feeling that my new adoptive mom angst combined with her tween, adoptive kid angst is going to lead to a few episodes of Foot in Mouth Syndrome (FMS) for us both.  It is ok, it’s natural, right? It doesn’t feel all that great for this natural overachiever, but it’s ok.  I can take it.

The good news is that it isn’t all stumbling over rocks, she does like me.

Hope likes me.

Apparently she talks about me all the time (see we have something in common—I talk about Hope obsessively).  She wasn’t as anxious this week, and she’s eager to learn more about me, about my life and potentially, our life.

Two steps forward, one stumble, but no ground loss…I think, we’ll see.

And so, now we’re back to just waiting until the next update.  Waiting blows.

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