Raising a ten year old is like simultaneously having two tiny stalkers, or maybe one tiny stalker with Dissociative Identity Disorder.
One personality stalks you unrelentingly for the purpose of worshiping you and the ground you walk on because ohmygodyouaresocool.
The other personality stalks you unrelentingly to make sure you know that you are, in fact, undeniably stupid, and that it is possible (if not probable) that no one single being more stupid than you has ever existed in the entire history of earth and humans and possibly other planets and life forms as well.
It is super fun.
Thank God for younger siblings, or I might not have recognized it as a passing phase. I’m relatively confident that it is a phase, because now that The Kid is in the throes of his adoration/abomination behavior, I recognize it. My baby sister went through the same thing. I was sixteen when she was ten. I was her hero, and simultaneously the most worthless person she had ever met. If it hadn’t been for my other sister, I might say I had never known another human being with such a capacity for annoying the hell out of me. Even now, if I really make the effort to recall her as she was then, I feel angry and annoyed. And overrun with the freaking heebie-jeebies. Bleh.
She made these faces… they were awful. She pretended to be stupid all the time. She would stare at me endlessly, waiting for my reaction or response to anything before she could decide on her own. She could not leave me alone. But then she’d also criticize and find fault with everything I was doing. My mother admonished me to be nicer to her, she was only acting that way because I was ‘her hero.’ Gag. (Interestingly, I recently conversed with Mother on the topic and she says she does not have any recollection of this season in our lives. Lucky.) I just couldn’t stand her! Who wants to be a hero to someone awful???
You know what happened? A couple years in, and all of a sudden one day Baby Sis randomly morphs into quite literally the coolest person I’d ever met. Truly. She was awesome – ALL. THE. TIME. It’s been something like twenty years, and I have never been annoyed with her for so much as one nano-second ever again. I mean, we had our moments and there were times we argued or fought, but it was never again like that with the skin-crawling heebie-jeebie annoyance.
So here I am, twenty years later rolling through my days and minding my own business and all of a sudden I’m getting a skin-crawly heebie-jeebie vibe off The Kid. I curled up on the couch one day and just focused on how I was feeling, trying to sort it all out, and this picture of The Kid’s face that I was holding in my mind kinda started to blend together with a picture of Baby Sister’s face, and I don’t mind telling you, I breathed a big, fat sigh of relief.
IT’S JUST A PHASE. Saints be praised! Thank You, Jesus!
Still. It is a decidedly uncomfortable phase.
I can’t imagine a scenario where someone intently stares at me all day every day in an attempt to scrutinize my every action and reaction and then verbalize every single thought in their head regarding their feelings about my actions and reactions, and I don’t mind it. I mean, that behavior is undeniably annoying.
Then there’s the faces ten year olds make. They are just different from the faces other people make. I don’t know why or how, but it’s awful. My Baby Brother also went through a phase at ten. I don’t know why he didn’t bother me. I mean, he bothered me, but not as much. He bothered other people a lot more. Maybe that’s the difference. I was so caught up in being defensive of him that I didn’t have time to give rein to my own annoyance. At any rate, he saw it. And it didn’t make sense to him either. He said to me one day, “Audrey, why does everyone think I’m so annoying but they love you? Because it seems like we are mostly the same.”
But I told him, “I think it’s just because of our ages.” (I was thirty at the time.) “People don’t always tolerate kids your age very well. I don’t know why.”
I wish I did know why. Because here I am again with a ten year old, and I feel like I’m losing my freaking marbles.
When he isn’t staring dotingly at me to discover what brilliant thing I’m about to do next, he’s correcting whatever thing I’ve just done, or giving me a long and detailed highly critical commentary on some topic he knows nothing about.
It’s a hoot! >.<
We had a talk about it the other day. I told him kids at this age bug me and I don’t know why, it isn’t him, it’s me, but I don’t know how to fix it, so I’m just gonna try not to be so irritated, and he’s just going to have to ignore me when I am. Though if he’d like to have mercy on my soul and just please not make those awful faces, I’d be appreciative. (He shows no signs of having any mercy on my soul.) (Just walks around making the faces like a freaking sociopath!! No empathy. No remorse. None. Heartless.) I told him that learning how to deal with it when someone else’s behavior has nothing to do with you is a useful life skill, so this could be a positive learning experience. I also told him that it seems likely to me that he will experience a spontaneous conversion to awesomeness around the time he turns twelve, so we can all just hang on till then. (He said this was delightful news, as at twelve he also gets to choose which parent he lives with AND gets to sit in the front seat where he can use the seat heater.) (For all three days of the year a person who lives in Arizona has opportunity to use a seat heater.) (I miss winter.) (Why do I live here?) (What was I saying?) (Oh, right. The Kid. Rock on, Kid.)
So here I sit, knowing that I am going to be dealing with this for the next couple years, and I’m wondering what to do with that. What can I learn from it? What can I take away from this experience?
You know what I discovered? I’m not as secure as I’d always supposed. I despise being adored. It is acutely discomfiting. I don’t deserve total adoration, thusly I dislike it. I also, and perhaps equally, hate being called out on everything I say or do. I am not an idiot. I do not care to be treated as one.
I suppose if I were a better person I wouldn’t mind it so much. But it’s not going away for a couple years, so maybe I’ll learn to not mind it so much and grow into a little bit better person.
Or I’ll just spend the next two years being supremely annoyed until I have an awesome twelve year old.
Whichever comes first.