I stopped over at “Dad or Alive” today to share this eloquent (notsomuch) open letter to my future tween, Ava. Why don’t you head over there now and leave some equally eloquent comments? Pretty please?
One day, long before your Dad and I are even remotely prepared, you are going to be a tween. Yes, just over that six year old horizon lies an awkward, confusing stage that you will look back on from your young adult coolness with complete disdain. So to prepare you for your impending transformation, I’ve got some serious advice for you. Advice that comes from my heart and own experiences that I hope you will pass down to your daughter some day. Here goes…
You’re going to get boobs early. Mine were huge. I was a B cup in the third grade and it just went out of control from there. Just accept it. Your Dad and I will invest in good sports bras and tasteful clothing to help mask your rack throughout your formative years. Just rest assured that while you have a nice college fund in the works, we’ve already set aside money for your breast reduction surgery. Trust me, sweetheart, it will be worth it.
Girls are haters. It’s what they do. Whether they are raised to be assholes by their equally assholey parents or they are jealous or who knows what, it’s just what makes girls tick at this age. They will probably hate you for your boobs (hence the investment in good bras). Please don’t be a hater, too. It’s easy to fall into the trap of being a mean girl. There’s often prestige and popularity that comes with being one of these people. But who really wants adoration based on fear?
Boys are assholes. Well, they aren’t really, but their hormones are as out of control as yours will be at this age and it’s best to just avoid them altogether. You think you know what boys want, but it’s much more complicated than holding hands and kissing in the back of the bus on the way to school. As long as you know that you don’t need a man to have everything you want in life, you will be fine. Don’t tell your Dad I said that.
You may feel pressured to do things you aren’t so sure about. Like stealing, or cheating, or doing drugs. Sure, these experiences often give you a short burst of excitement and maybe some kind of twisted satisfaction, but in the long-run the negatives far outweigh the positives. Save the experimentation for your 20’s (because you most likely won’t care about this stuff by then).
Beware: The internet is an ocean of crazy. When I was a tween, the worst we had were nasty notes passed around school about us. These papers, usually ripped from spiral notebooks and written in pencil, would eventually get tattered and faded. Nothing tatters the internet. And weak and immature girls will hide behind their avatars and cast stones at you from their tiny glass houses. Don’t fall prey to their shenanigans and don’t even think about bullying someone else online. What gets posted on the internet is there for eternity. That means words, pictures and videos. If you don’t want your grandchildren to see it one day, keep it off the internet.
Please don’t like boy bands. Sure, their auto-tuned voices serenade you from behind airbrushed faces and blinding white teeth. But there has never been a boy band that has produced good music. It’s all crap. I cringe at the thought of dishing out cash to give more money to Disney-processed teens with future felony records. Open your mind to the possibilities of all kinds of music. And, you can borrow my Pearl Jam CDs anytime.
Your Dad and I love you unconditionally. Yes, we yell at you sometimes, but honestly, you probably deserve it nine times out of ten. You might think we are unfair and you hate us and you never want to talk to us ever again. That’s perfectly fine. I know these feelings will pass and when the dust settles the two people left standing there to pick up your pieces will be your Dad and me. Always and forever.
Love yourself. If you decide to ignore any of the other advice I’ve given you here, please take this one to heart. Love yourself. You are an amazing person. I knew you would be before you were born. Embrace your individuality, your sweetness, humility and empathy. Trust that no one can tear you down unless you allow them to and loving who you are is the best defense of all.
So, parents of toddlers and school-agers, what advice do you have for your future tweens? Leave a comment and give some feedback. We could all use a little help navigating the scariness ahead.