I remember the middle school years, where everyone was quickly trying to assert their personality--for better or worse--so that they could distance the new "mature" version of themselves as much as possible from the elementary school kiddie version. Everyone was an asshole. And a slightly out of proportion smelly one, probably due to the fact that we were all mid-morph in our physical transformation while our bodies were coursing with a sudden surge of hormones and angst.
This is where cliques are formed for the first time, girls start experimenting a little with make-up and hairspray, boys' voices start cracking and squeaking, menstruation begins for most girls, braces make their appearance on smiles that once were familiar, and then there's that excruciatingly embarrassing first time practically naked in the locker room dressing out for gym. Horrible. All of this...fuck, it's awful...all of this amounting to a somewhat withdrawn and slightly edgy pre-teen. And it's no wonder.
My boys are there, I admit with defeat. I can see they are each struggling with the little boy that's still there within them, but they are quickly asserting themselves in new ways, and I'm left to deal. Which basically means they have horrendously stinky socks and shoes ALL THE TIME, their hair is usually a mess and they hate if you say anything about it, they are pretty much defensive about most things for no real reason and are testing their ability to wield the power of I'm going to totally ignore you right now because that's my way of telling you to piss off. To which, I say Ugh. And this sucks.
They're not defiant, per se. At least not yet. Maybe that's still to come. I feel like this is where parents usually go one of two ways: Give them space, or get in their face. I can definitely see the benefit to both approaches, but as anyone who knows me knows (and I can hear you laughing from here), I'm really more of an in your face kinda girl. That's why the boys are not at all surprised to hear me saying, "Ignoring me doesn't work. I'm still right here. Not going anywhere. Nope. So you may as well answer me. Yep, still here." And it's why the stalemate usually results in all of us laughing about it and talking it out anyway. I'm no expert--at all--but this is what has been working for me, at least thus far. It could totally change tomorrow. It probably will, and I'll just have to adjust.
I do allow them their own space to some degree, and I do respect their privacy...to some degree...but there's a limit. And it was defined a long time ago. I will agree that they have to sort of figure out through trial and error how they're going to end up post-morph, but I'm right there guiding them. If I weren't, I'd be letting their peer group have way too much say in how they think things through, which I will not stand for. Ha! No way. Me versus a group of stinky twelve year old assholes? I win every time. Why? Because I hold the power to the Xbox in my hand. Literally. Power cord is in hand, and I am not above holding it hostage until you come to your senses and lose the snarl, scoff and entitlement attitude. And open a window because it reeks in here. Thank you, love you, mean it.
The sludgy, stinky middle school years...with physical and social awkwardness aplenty. Damn. I think middle school is probably the most awful time in anyone's childhood. That's all I can say about it. It's pretty much awful for everyone, and I'm sorry. See you on the other side, boys.