What’s typical?

I dropped the girls off at camp today. My oldest daughter, who is 7, enjoys sitting with/listening to the older girls in her class. I’ve already admonished her about this since I believe the older girls may discuss or do things she shouldn’t be party to. The part of the camp she’s involved in goes from ages 6-13. That’s a pretty wide margin, especially if the pre-teens are slightly “faster” than the typical pre-teen. Yet, I have to ask: what is a typical pre-teen? I have a 12-year-old niece. She likes most of the same things my 7-year-old does (though she will eventually get bored). I have a friend with a 12-year-old as well. She loves playing with her three-year-old brother and enjoys some of his toys as much as he does (same as my niece). Yet, are they typical? Or are the pre-teens I see on Good Hope Rd clad in miniskirts and tube tops with bright red lipstick and weave to their asses what’s typical? Do I have reason to be concerned with her hanging with the older girls or should I be confident in my parenting skills to raise her right regardless of the ghetto’s attempt to snab her? Of course I have reason! What the hell is wrong with you? Instinct says there’s reason, dammit, there’s reason. Whew, okay, I feel better now, thanks (not you. I’m talking to my alter ego. She comes out sometimes to smack me upside the head when I’m being especially dumb). Still, I was wrong to embarrass her, hindsight tells me. I asked her to sit with the kids her own age. I gave her a few minutes to adjust her seating arrangement. I went back in. This girl was NOT right back over with the older girls was she? Was she?! Of course she was. She’s 7. And she hasn’t learned yet that mommy never leaves the first time, duh. I had to let her know that disobedience will not be tolerated. I had to. I told her in “the voice” coupled with “the look” to come into the hall. The look and voice clearly work; every child in there turned and sat up straight like uh-oh, what’d I do? She was sooooooooo embarrassed. Listen, my parents couldn’t have possibly found it within themselves to care any less about where/how/why/with what/in front of whom they beat me when I was her age. Not that I want to emulate my mother’s form of discipline in ANY way. But now here I am berating myself for having to discipline her. And that’s, well, crazy in comparison. But isn’t it my sole job to protect her…and well, embarrass her beyond wild imagination at times? I can’t honestly say that she didn’t go back to the older girls at some point in the day, but I guarantee you she looked toward that door before she did.

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