In the last few months, 11-year-old G has developed a heartfelt belief that she isn't a child anymore. Instead, she's "almost a teenager," and as such, she has a certain level of dignity to maintain. Every day, I learn about something new that used to be okay and is now mortifying, such as: using playground equipment, entering the children's section at the library, watching most cartoons, viewing baby photos of herself, talking about any incident in her life before the age of 9, and the list goes on and on. I just found out about the library today, when we went there and I automatically headed for the children's wing, only to have G go all rigid and horrified and ask, "Where are you going?"
"To the kids' section, where else?" I said.
"I don't want to go to the kids' section."
"Don't you want any books?"
"Not from there," she said, like the Queen of England being asked if she wouldn't like to pick out some new sweatpants at Wal-Mart. "I'm almost in junior high*. I have the highest reading level in my grade. I need adult nonfiction."
"Okay, if you like," I said, hoping my eyes weren't rolling too noticeably, and off we went to get her some adult books on pet care and musical theater.
Later on, I dragged her through the kids' books anyway, because I love them and I'm decades too old to care what anyone thinks about my reading habits, and it was hysterical watching her try to pretend that she wasn't interested in any of those books**. When we passed the new releases table, she said, "I'm going to look at these, just to look," put her hands behind her back, and leaned over to read the covers without actually touching the books themselves. Because, you know, someone who will be a teenager in a year and 11 months can't be seen looking at picture books in public.
The good news is that while she's started thinking of herself as a teenager-in-training, she's not interested in makeup or boys or any of the other teenage stuff yet. What she is interested in - writing stories, practicing her flute, drawing, watching musicals, playing Club Penguin and reading - is all about as harmless as it gets. Still, I can tell I'm going to say "You're not a teenager yet!" many, many times before she actually turns 13. Maybe I should get it tattooed across my forehead.
*She's halfway through fifth grade.
**For some reason, the kids' section at the bookstore is A-OK.