The Terrible Tweens

It's hard to be 11. Every age has its issues, but as my third baby navigates the dreaded tween years, I think these years are among the roughest. A friend once warned me, "Little kids; little problems. Big kids; big problems," and I have seen that play out in extremely painful ways...especially over the last year. Still. Tweening is tough.

This morning, my itty bitty girl had a rough morning. She decided recently that her naturally curly hair should be straight, so our morning now includes a 15-minute flat-ironing ritual. After some painful periods of trial-and-error (including my quitting a job that required ME to get ready in the morning as well), our routine has been pretty chill. This morning, however, the moment I heard her voice, my guard was up. It was that whiny, whimpery, slightly smart-ass'y voice that presses the rage button deep within me. Does your kid have a voice like that?

Pre-Brené  Brown, when one of my children spoke in that voice, I would lose. My. SHIT. Scream, yell, have a holy fit. Post-Brené-Brown, occasionally, I calmly reply, "Can you please not speak in that voice? Because that voice triggers stuff that makes me want to smash every glass object we own on the tile and then tackle you in it." Don't underestimate parenting with hyperbole. It can really diffuse the situation. And sometimes, I still lose my ever-loving shit because I'm a work in progress.

Back to this morning. Clothing issues. I have no long sleeved-shirts. I hate all my clothes. I'm not going to school. All screamed in the voice. I tried telling her that she actually had lots of lovely clothes, but she was tired and crabby and it was a gloomy Monday morning. It was all of these things telling her a bullshit story.


I almost dropped the flat iron. Full disclosure: I almost threw it.

But then it hit me:

Here is a MOMENT. The moments I read and write and think about all the time. The moments when we just need someone to see us. Hear us. Be with us. So I gently put the flat iron down and asked, "Do you think I don't understand and I'm telling you this stuff to shut you up? Because I completely understand. That's why I can tell you with 100% certainty that it will be okay. A good portion of the population lived through 11 already. It can suck, but it is temporary. Even though it might feel like the end of the world right now, it isn't. And I promise it will be okay." Since she knows I don't make promises unless there's not a single chance I'll have to break it, she believed me.

And she was good.

I beat myself up all the time for the 899,999 things I should or could have said or done better. I try to be kind and compassionate all the time. I fall short all. the. time. Consistently, I circle back to this: It's not about me. Remove myself from the equation and 899,996 times I do or say the right thing. When I remember to check my ego at the door and meet people where they are, everything works out better.

Too often I get sucked into that quote: "Don't let people pull you into their storm; pull them into your peace." - Kimberly Jones

Too often I don't separate other people's emotions from my own. This is especially difficult with people who once made their home inside my body.

But today, for 35 seconds in my bathroom, I did the right thing. And now, I just have to do the next one.

Please tell me your tween stories. The horrors, the celebrations, the fails and wins. Let's slog through this together because misery loves company.



  1. 11 and 12 are so hard. Oldest turned 14 and is magically normal again (mostly). It took the second child turning 11 for me to realize...ohhh, it's this age. I am encouraged by the knowledge that it does end. In the meantime, I try to breathe deeply and remind myself to hug her, and to find good things to say so that our entire relationship is not One Huge Battle. Which is generally how it feels. Solidarity!

    1. It is so hard. She had 92 meltdowns the other day before we left for a weekend trip. We talked on the way to the airport about that nasty beast that is PMS. Thank you for your words. So reassuring 😊❤️


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