Life, Laughter and Love with The Bean
As a mom of an eleven-year-old girl, I feel appreciative that the relationship I have with my daughter is open, positive, and closely connected. As my little bean navigates the waters of adolescence and faces the challenges of growing up, I struggle between the sadness of watching her grow into a young adult and the excitement of watching her become this amazing, intelligent, strong individual with her own strong convictions and amazing ideas. With The Bean, there is a heavy dose of humor involved in the observations of growing up. However, mixed in with this humor are some firm convictions of right and wrong, solid moral ground, and a solid base of how others should be treated. She is an amazing little person who makes me shake my head. Often in wonder and more often in humor.
We have been having more frequent conversations about growing up and the changes that will inevitably occur both in appearance and responsibilities. The Bean has declared, "growing up is a disgusting process!" In many ways, she is correct. As a former teacher of 7th thru 11th-grade students, I watched many of my students move from childhood into young adulthood. What probably struck me the most and repelled me the most was the smell of a group of "tweeners" stuffed into an overheated classroom on a hot September day. Overcoming body odor challenges seemed to be the most noteworthy and difficult of the growing up process. I used to think the kids didn't grasp this new odorous challenge, but I have discovered there is a genuine abhorrence to personal hygiene at this age. We have nightly negotiations about showers, what has to be washed, and teeth brushing. What happened to my little darling, who loved playing in the tub with her Disney dolls and plastic animals? My little darling that used to squeal with delight when I said, "let's go get a tubby!" is gone and replaced by a water-resistant tyrant who believes she has the upper hand in negotiating what parts of her body need soap and if it is a "hair washing" night. My best argument is, "Look, you can't be the soap maker's stinky kid. It's bad for business!"
She and her dad have ongoing battles to torment and repulse the other on the grandest scale. Whether it is breaking wind in the other's general direction or coming up with new and disgusting insults of what the other eats, there is a daily battle of wits and overall grossness. The Bean has found a secret weapon she pulls out when she is simply tired of The Bibbed Wonder beating her in all things childish and gross. She gets a demur look on her lovely little face, bats her big blue eyes, smiles sweetly, and says in a sugary voice, "Daddy, I think it's time you take me BRA SHOPPING!" The Bibbed Wonder actually cringes at this. He then wails, "Stop it! That's not fair!" The Bean smiles a wicked smile and remarks, "Jordan 1, Daddy 0!" She can't wait until the battle escalates, and she can pull out the atomic bomb for her dad's world...asking him to buy her "girl stuff." She is holding onto that card for desperate times. Her poor bib overall wearing daddy just may collapse into the fetal position and cry over that one.
While navigating the new path of cyber education, we have found The Bean to often be the most capable, competent student. However, there are days when we pray this pandemic ends immediately and the bus comes lumbering down the road to pick her up and carry her off to school. There is an ebb and flow cycle to the success and commitment to the success of cyber school. When the desire ebbs, it is painful. When it flows, we could not be more proud of her. This week is an ebb week. After a come to Jesus meeting with daddy about independence, organization, and overall give a sh** about academic performance, The Bean went huffily to the house to compose herself and look for her missing calculator...which I must add was not to leave her school area...which I must also add was found under a box of Teddy Grahams, headphones, and a discarded sweatshirt on her bean bag in her school area. The Bibbed Wonder looked at me in exasperation and declared, "She needs to go back to school! I'm going to go nuts if she doesn't knock off this nonsense!" After listening to my dear husband's tirade, I pointed out that she is a good student, a respectful kid, and earned straight A's on her first report card. This is a huge success for facing the struggles and new system of cyber education. Is it challenging to keep her focused on some days? The answer is yes, but overall she is doing a bang-up job. I then went to the house to check on The Bean. She tearfully declared, "I want to go back to school if he's going to act like this!" I listened to her rant about the unfairness and overall grumpiness of her dad. I then asked if she had been prepared for science class? She said no, not really. I pointed out that her fourth-grade teacher would have taken recess time away if she had been in school and unprepared for class. I also pointed out that although his approach was abrupt, it was valid. She reluctantly agreed, wiped her tears, found an alternative calculator to use, and went back to her school area. They both went on to have a successful science class, and the equation of Newton's second law was mastered...insert sigh of relief.
While 2020 has forced our hand to face battles we could not have predicted, watching our girl grow-up and learn to navigate challenges is painfully rewarding...and often funny. I believe my child has faced and successfully overcame many obstacles in her brief life and should have nothing but sunshine and rainbows from now on. However, you and I both know, dear reader, that is not the way of the world. I also know that her dad and I will be there to support and guide her with every step she takes. Let's be honest; she needs very little guidance...she is amazingly sure-footed. However, personal hygiene needs a steely nerve and a strong hand. Watching our baby grow is both rewarding and sad; we will do what we have always done, enjoy every stage of her wonderful life to it's fullest...except the body odor. Nobody enjoys that!
As always, dear reader, stay safe, stay smart, laugh at the difficulties, and wash your hands. The world doesn't need any more personal hygiene challenged individuals.