The other day was superhero day at school. We have school uniforms so every opportunity for free dress is embraced as the school raises money and the kids get to have fun.
My 11 year old daughter had been sick, but was getting back to school just in time. The night before she suddenly asked for help as she planned her outfit.
She was to be dressed like “Sailor Mars” from a Manga comic I was not even aware of until that moment.
Suddenly she was cutting up some big dress up pants to make a red mini skirt. Extra fabric was being constructed into a bow tie.
As bedtime passed and her father and I were nagging her to finish I finally volunteered to sew on the fabric to the shoulders of a white shirt while she slept.
I drove the kids to the school drop off zone.
Suddenly her mood shifted. We could see all the other superheroes inside the school gates. Many batman and superman costumes along with iron man, a handful of cat woman costumes and some tutus could be seen.
Pretty mainstream super heroes by the gate.
She turned back just before opening the car door and said “I feel embarrassed now.”
I told her she looked great and to “own it”, own who she is, what she chose, what she likes. Above all else own it and enjoy life.
My daughters are at a critical stage of childhood. At 9 1/2 and 11 they are in later primary school grades and my oldest is constantly looking toward high school (1 more year to go).
They are standing on a bridge and some days they look back and some days they inch closer across to the new land.
While I struggled often with the baby stage I have always felt I was on firmer ground once they grew old enough to talk to, really talk to. I am a good talker and a decent listener, but most of all I am empathetic.
Above all I know my girls feel heard (what I myself have always craved).
While I want so desperately to protect them, guide them and nurture them I know that has to be done without holding on too tightly.
I need to help them be the best version of themselves, but by empowering them and strengthening their sense of self first (loving themselves as is).
My 11 year old is an artist. A sensitive soul. She loves to read, write, create and dream.
Sometimes at school she is to be found sitting with a book at play breaks simply because she is engrossed in a story and cannot bear to leave it at home even for six hours. She is okay with missing out on the action for a bit while friends go off to play. Occasionally a friend will be by her side with their own book.
I can see she is regularly questioning what is okay these days.
She sees classmates who are more in the thick of things, some who have phones or are on social media, still others being thought of as “popular” or known to have boys crushing on them.
She has firmly entered the land of wanting to fit in and be accepted and liked.
My greatest gift to her in the coming years will be to keep reinforcing the message that she is enough, that what FEELS right to her IS right.
When I picked the girls up after school they were both very excited. Such a great day and they talked about it much of the walk home.
Some kids had created their own made up super heroes, others were funky versions of known ones. One friend of miss 11 had not dressed up so they took a piece of the fabric from the bow and put it in her hair- she was declared official sidekick !
I hope each opportunity that comes up like this reinforces for my kids that they need to march to the beat of their own drum.
There will always be a sidekick and others dancing right along to the music.
Any advice for parenting tweens / teens?
Did you / do you find it hard to march to your own drum?
What superhero would you be?
Love and light,