I’ve been at this parenting thing for a decade now. I don’t know about you but I struggle almost daily and often feel like a total failure.

Parenting is hard, man, and anyone who says otherwise I’m willing to bet does not have kids. And the most bizarre thing about it is that, unlike most skills or processes in life, this one does not seem to get easier with time and you don’t necessarily feel like you are getting better with practice. In fact, it seems to get harder in some ways.

Sure, the kids are more independent and you don’t have to change their diaper, feed them, watch their every move. But they are smarter, sassier, require logical explanations, ask difficult questions, call you on your junk and are, overall, more difficult human beings to live with.

It can be exhausting.

My 10-year-old daughter has entered puberty. (Run for cover!) I never knew it could start this early but the pediatrician says it is not unheard of for kids as young as 8 to have signs of going through “the change.” Isabel is fully emerged in this metamorphosis from little girl to demon child teen. I told her she is like a roller-coaster: one minute she is happy, affectionate, interesting and the next minute, literally the next minute, she is grumpy, moody, defensive.

She told me I’m the same way. The nerve!

But, really, she is just. like. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The other day I was chatting with another mom. Isabel came up to me, laced her fingers with mine and laid her head on my shoulder. By the time I turn my head to kiss the top of hers, she let go with a “Humph!” crossed her arms and stomped her foot. The other mom and I just burst out laughing (which didn’t help, by the way) because it was an epitome moment: the epitome of living with a pre-teen girl.

Not long ago, after a day particularly difficult to navigate, I was begging God to spare me the next eight years of my life and bargaining about what I would trade with him (I’ll be willing to go all gray, Lord, if I could wake up one morning and it be 2024) when the Perfect Parent reminded me about the power of words.

Continue reading “Three Magical Words (or how to deal with a pre-teen girl)”