It’s both fun (hearing her laughter, seeing the friends want to get together) and aggravating (plans changing and cancelling constantly, the drama between friends) to see the social growth happening. I think I will take these challenges over the other ones of Kylie constantly complaining about being bored and not being able to do anything.
— Turning 12 Years Old
I ended last year’s post writing about Kylie’s new found independence: walking around downtown or the mall without me right beside her, talking more with her friends in her room than with me, and so forth. This past year, that independence has really taken off.
The major difference is the freedom she has navigating the city bus system. Initially, it was to and from school, but that expanded with trips to my parents’ place, the mall, and now travelling anywhere from downtown Kelowna to Lake Country (which is roughly 25 mins by car from downtown Kelowna). Having her come out of her room and say she’s off to the mall with friends, but not asking me for a ride is a rather strange feeling. You want to be there as a parent and make sure they arrive safely, but the desire to stop what you are doing to drive your kid to the mall during rush hour is rather minimal.
It is comforting to know that she can get around this city easily by a quick search on Google for the bus information, and is fine doing it alone or with friends. I have to remind myself that kids in larger cities are likely more comfortable taking public transit than I ever was until I was in high school. I can’t remember ever planning to take the bus to downtown Whitehorse when I was 13. My bike was my main form of transportation until my family moved further up the mountain and biking to downtown was impractical. I was stuck at home without some planning and coordination with my parents.
I would likely feel a bit different the freedom if she didn’t have a phone her pocket every day. Thank goodness for technology.
Being able to escape from home to take the bus anywhere has helped me see how similar her and I are. The escapes to the mall are not something I find myself identifying with, but I do enjoy walking around downtown Kelowna to see what is happening. Both of us enjoy having a treat while out on these escapes. This may be something I helped foster when she was young with our outings to coffee shops or gelato before/during/after walks around.
Something not entirely new, but definitely becoming a larger part of her life is gaming. One of her destinations when escaping from home has been to a board game cafe, Twice the Dice. Sometimes, it’s meeting friends to play board games and talk, other times it’s to work on a 500+ piece puzzle to gain a free month, and more recently it has been visits to the cafe to play Dungeons and Dragons with friends. Role-playing games (RPGs) were one of my interests as a teenager so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw her showing an interest and then joining the group. The only negative has been her complete unwillingness to try playing any card games at all. [Adding the emphasis because I know she reads these posts]
Another more recent event has her being invited to join a youth group at a church. That was an experience that I did not get to have much of when I was a teenager. It has only been a month or so, but it seems to be a very positive experience for her. It’s a church near her middle school, so several of her friends or people from her school are attending it. She is already looking forward to some of the adventures they have planned for the spring and summer, which has been great to see.
Life still presents challenges with the relentlessness middle school kids wanting to do everything they can to disrupt lives. It is surprising to me how much unnecessary drama happens in middle school. The manipulation, talking behind backs, breaking trust left and right, is all difficult to follow. Friends today; enemies next week.
It’s all rather unfair how Kylie gets treated by other kids in the school. I remember grade 7 and 8 having challenging days and kids, too, and then it all seemingly disappeared in grade 9. With me, however, it ended as soon as the school bell rang and everyone went home. For Kylie, it can continue into the evening with people messaging her. I do hope it subsides after the winter break and people can move onto more interests.
Through all the challenges, there is still laughter. Phone calls with her friends, gossiping about who has a crush on who, laughing at the trends or the videos they have made on TikTok, and getting excited about things happening in each other’s lives. Laughter is one of the biggest lessons she has given me this past year. No matter how tough things are in life, find the reasons to laugh and push the problems behind you.
Happy 13th birthday, Kylie.
I asked Kylie for some of her favourite songs. As much as I want to share audio of her singing in the shower, I will share the songs instead. Maybe next year.
The book Kylie asked to get for Christmas this year also happens to be “a sensation on TikTok.” Go figure.
Nike Air Jordan 1 Mid shoes that were her big gift from her other set of grandparents.