Lessons We Learned While Raising Beth
We didn't used to explain transitions to Beth. Looking back now I wonder how we could have missed this important issue. When I say transitions, I mean like vacations, moving, changing schools. I don't ever remember sitting down with her and explaining, in detail, what was going to happen. I think we just told her the same way we told Sharaya and Diana. We realized this when we took a vacation to the East Coast. The first 4 days Beth was just a bear. She wouldn't talk to us. She was angry. At one point we were walking around New York and she just sat down. On the sidewalk. She finally opened up to us and we realized she thought this was our new life now. That we had left everything back in Seattle and this was home. We hadn't told her it was only a vacation!! Now we tell her in advance, mark it on her calendar and we talk about it a lot. She's able to ask questions, express her fears. It makes her a part of the entire experience instead of just going along for the ride.
Beth was 9 1/2 when we began to see physical changes, hair under her arms, etc. At 13 we bought her first bra and she started her period. A few months before Beth started her period, she would itch... down there. And so she would scratch. (It wasn't until Sharaya was going through this that we realized it was a sign of things to come.) I had been praying for some time about this day. I was so afraid that it would happen while Beth was at school. But, thankfully it happened on a quiet Saturday morning. She got up to go to the bathroom and yelled, "Mom!!" I knew instantly. :) I showed her how to put on a pad and talked to her about being a young woman now. I monitored her throughout the day, making sure she was changing it regularly. The next day she went to the bathroom and called me again. She showed me the spot on her pad and said, "Not again!" Maybe I didn't explain the whole '35 years of this' quite well enough. Now all I have to do is ask her if there's enough in the cupboard. If not, she writes it on the grocery list.
It was hard to find shoes and clothes that fit Beth and reflected her age. At 14 she was 5'9" and weighed barely 100 pounds. People thought she was a 4th grader. But naturally, she wanted adult clothes and shoes. We had the hardest time finding size 4 shoes that didn't have the Lion King on them! I remember going from store to store looking for shoes she liked. I think we finally found some at payless. We still shop there today.
As Beth got closer to her high school graduation, we had the school tell us that we had to submit paperwork to become her legal guardian. They told us all kinds of scary stories of kids being sold cars they couldn't afford and people stealing from them. Being the compliant parents we are, we filled out the paperwork, hired a lawyer and began the process. The lawyer was a friend of ours from church and he began to ask us questions. Did Beth often go places by herself? Was Beth interested in having a car? Would Beth open a checking account without us? We began to realize that it probably wasn't necessary to become her guardian that year. Well it's been 10 years and we're still not her legal guardians. At her job service, Beth signed a form saying they can talk directly to us and that that we're able to make decisions with her. Companies have been very accommodating when it comes to talking with us and with Beth. We include Beth in decisions: does she want a checking account or not; does she want to learn to drive a car; is she interested in moving out on her own. Now, every family is different and you may choose to become your child's legal guardian. But just know it's not a requirement.