To all of the girls on the cusp of the cusp of adolescence

preteen ponytail

Over the weekend my eight-year-old daughter asked for my phone or tablet to bring up to her room so she could listen to music while she cleaned. I thought for second and then said, “Hold on. I think I have just the thing.”

I did a deep dive into the most remote and forsaken corner of the basement and surfaced some time later with a bonafide boom box. Score!

After wiping off two decades worth of dust and grime, I brought it up to her room and turned on the radio. A familiar static crackled from the speakers interspersed with an inaudible voice.

“It doesn’t work, Mommy. It’s glitching so badly!”

“Oh, sweetie. We just need to use this dial to tune into a station.”

After a few rage-inducing misses—ohmigosh, no, I hate this music—the dial settled on a top 40 station. She perked right up. “Oh, I like this. This is good. Thank you. You can go now.”

And I left her there to sort through piles of DIY plastic jewelry, sketch books full of her own “fashion girls,” diaries, peel off nail polish, and Shopkins, teddy bears and other relics of a childhood not-yet passed. She bopped around to pop lyrics she doesn’t quite understand and looked onward with stars in her eyes toward days spent loafing around with friends, gossiping about boys and clothes.

She’s on the cusp of being on the cusp of adolescence. There’s still so much innocence here. It’s a world full of glitter, lip gloss and giggles where your dreams might come true at an Ariana Grande concert.

And so today my heart goes out to all the girls who are flirting with what it means to become a woman. It goes out to all the young women who will dawdle in front of the mirror trying to get their hair just right (even if they can take on this world with their brains alone.)  And also to those of us who can only just barely remember the prickly excitement of our first taste of preteen freedom.

It’s hard not to take this personally. Don’t tell me these attacks aren’t personal.

All I can hope is for them to keep on shining on in their cut-off jean shorts and sequined shirts and Rainbow Brite hair and plastic bangles and sparkly lip gloss and high higher highest ponytails. Shine on.

One Comment

  1. I can’t stop going back and thinking of my beaming daughter and her high higher highest ponytail and how many tries it took her to get it just right and how I wanted to tell her it was fine, just leave it. But I let her pull it and tug it until it was just right and she beamed and radiated joy coming out of that AG concert with her friend. And my heart aches, aches, aches for fear that my younger daughters won’t worry about their ponytails first. Thank you for this piece, Rebecca xo

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