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Jun 17

Polly Pockets and Junior High

Alternate title – What it’s really like having a tween-aged daughter

This is Jessie’s last year in elementary school. Starting in September, she’ll be attending the Goddard Scholars Academy, starting junior high (or middle school, as I like to call it because it sounds less grown up) a year earlier than she would if she was going to the same school as the rest of her class. She’s less than a year away from her bat mitzvah, which is a pretty significant step on the path to adulthood. She’s putting on lip gloss every morning, and has her first official pair of heels.

I bought a box of Polly Pockets at a yard sale on Saturday. I hate Polly Pockets, really. I managed to miss them entirely when Jessie was a little girl, because I convinced her that it was too dangerous with baby Sammy toddling around. I was also lucky enough to have Jessie’s best friend (an only child) living right upstairs on the third floor apartment, so Jessie was able to play with them without me having to deal with a zillion tiny shoes and rubber dresses floating around. This box didn’t look like Polly Pockets, and Jessie was tricky, telling me that they were “figurines,” so I bought it.

I naively assumed that the dollhouses and assorted accessories would be for Julianna. I was wrong. So, so wrong. Because ever since Saturday, those stupid Polly Pockets have been in constant play at my house, and Julianna, as the littlest one, is completely overruled. Everyone plays with them, even poor Sam who gets forced into dollhouse play because it’s the only activity going on here. Yesterday, he dragged out his little army guys and had them playing alongside Cinderella and the other princesses.

Jessie really seems to completely embrace the whole “tween” conundrum. Is she a big kid, with responsibilities like Torah portions to memorize, massive and major summer reading projects and a dresser littered with lip gloss and hair care products? Or is she a little kid, with Polly Pockets and dollhouses and snuggling up to me at night before she falls asleep? The truth is that she’s both. She’s not just experimenting with growing up, she’s growing up. The studying, the homework and the make-up are a part of her, just like the American Girl dolls she still likes to dress and hairstyle, and the crappy Polly Pockets that she’ll fight to the death to play with.

It’s actually a lovely way to grow up, because just when I start to panic that she’s getting too big too fast, and that my little girl is disappearing into adolescence – she’ll bring out Rebecca Rubin with a pretty new hairstyle for my approval, or snuggle up next to me watch Gilmore Girls reruns.

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