Dear 12 year old girls (or thereabouts),
Once upon a time, probably a long time ago by your standards, but definitely in the modern age; though before cell phones and before “OMG” held so much emotional meaning; I was a 12 year old girl. Shall we say a very “mature” 12 year old girl? As in one night I went to bed a flat-chested, tangled pony-tailed, bike riding, care-free, “boys are gross” spouting kid. And, to my own personal horror, I awoke the next day needing a C-cup bra, a daisy razor, and bathroom strategies to keep the most awful of times a secret. Oh, and I was suddenly towering over just about every girl, and especially every boy, in the 6th grade.
I never asked for boobs. Some girls fantasize about the day they will actually need a bra. I was not one of those girls. At 12 years old they were a pock mark on my shy (and more academic than social) self. At heart, I was still just a 12 year old kid wanting to watch The Simpsons, ride my bike on muddy trails, giggle at sleep overs, and feel confident around other kids. I did not want to have to remember deodorant yet, or worry about the repercussions of wearing white shorts, or blush in horror at the stares at my Dolly Parton chest (relatively speaking) in elementary school. It was especially trying that the worst teasers were actually other girls! As an adult looking back, I can see that this may have been jealousy on their part, but at the time I’d have unhooked the bra and handed it, boobs and all, over to the little twits if it were possible. Haha, little twits! Sounds like little …(cough) well, you see how I’ve matured into my womanhood.
Yet shortly thereafter, each of my classmates began to return to school in varying and rapidly progressing shades of womanhood. By the end of the year we were a clan of Amazonians next to our male counterparts. We had very few skills at managing this hormonal onslaught. We were anxious, excited, scared, powerful, weak and, above all, awkward.
But can you imagine how the boys our age were feeling around this great estrogen harvest? Sure they teased, stared, whispered, or flat out ignored us; which made everything all the more stressful. Many were literally eye level with our training bras when we were all standing in a line to be weighed at the nurse’s station (where we would surely outweigh them by tens of lbs). How mortifying! But for who really? The thought of what the boys must be dealing with never crossed my mind as I was fighting my way through my own hormonal haze.
Now that I’m the mom of twin 12 year old boys, I have a much different perspective to witness as this uneasy stint in life passes for my boys and the girls they call friends. So, I wanted to share with you (12 year old almost-women) a little about how things look from the other side. It might help you relax a bit, and it might save the dignity and self esteem of a few very sweet and insecure little boys.
First, you now look more like someone we would hire to babysit our boys, rather than the girl they talked Minecraft and the Maze Runner series with just a few months ago. And they literally are eye level with your chest; which I assure you they have absolutely no interest in just yet. In fact, they still gag and turn away claiming their eyes are bleeding if a movie gets to lovey-dovey or someone shows to much skin. They really are clueless about why you suddenly need to carry a purse to the restroom. To them the purse adds to your new look as women; women that we are teaching them to respect. Your maturity can be overwhelming.
They still just want to be your friend and be treated with respect too. You are intimidating at that height and physical maturity. It is hard on a guy, who wants to be seen as strong and courageous, to be smaller than all the girls at this stage. So please, refrain from telling them they look like they are 8 or 9 years old!?
Incidently, this happened to one of my boys recently at swim practice. He had made friends with a girl while talking during a dry-land practice week. Day after day they worked out on mats next to each other and enjoyed talking about their similar interests in guitar music and computer coding. Obviously they were intellectual peers. Then one day, out of the blue, she asks, “So are you 8 or 9 years old, cause you are so small?” He got in the car completely degraded and verbally beating himself up for looking like a shrimp and getting belittled by a girl who he believed enjoyed his company. The truth is, he looks like a 12 year old boy should look. The same age you all did; just before puberty struck you with a metamorphic bolt of lightening. And though you may now be able to pass for a teenager between 14-18 years old, you are still mentally 12. And you know it hurts to be talked down to, literally and figuratively.
Girls, do the guys a favor and don’t point out the obvious. They are completely aware you are towering over them. They see the adult world and know that they are supposed to be bigger and stronger. The knife is already in their side, you don’t have to twist it.
But girls, listen closely. Remember one day they will grow. My boys are absolutely the cutest 12 year olds I know. And (tears, sniff..sniff) the time will come when they’ll go to bed as frog-catching, rough and tumble boys and wake up as extremely good-looking, muscled-up, promising, determined, hunks of men. They’ll need deodorant, and a razor, and have their own anxiety in situations you can’t understand. But you won’t see a boy, you’ll see the guy you wish would ask for your phone number or take you to the prom. Treat him right while he’s still small, because he has a giant heart, and you’ll want him to see you as the woman who deserves that heart’s attention.