Puberty tougher the third time

Sunday, August 10, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:15 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

My oldest two grandchildren are beginning to step into the awkward stage of puberty. I have gone through this with my children AND lived to tell about it (so did they — but just barely), and it’s not something I thought I would have to endure again.

I saw the signs shortly after Christmas — my two oldest grandkids became moody and withdrawn. When I ask a question my grandson mumbles a reply, but my granddaughter just sighs and rolls her eyes.

Both boys and girls have some common attributes at this age. Both sexes need a great deal of sleep, especially during daylight hours. The spine becomes quite limber and neither sex has the ability to sit up straight at the table. And, apparently, right before the onslaught of puberty the head becomes extremely heavy because it is constantly being held by one arm or the other. Their hearing is definitely affected because I have to repeat things like “close the door” or “eat your carrots” several times before my statement is even acknowledged.

But there are some distinct differences. At age 12 and two days (of this writing), my oldest granddaughter is an odd mixture of child and woman wannabe. Like most girls her age, she has no real shape to her body (hmm … come to think of it, neither do I). She, like many of her peers, has the beginnings of breasts that she covers with a “must have” bra. (Oh, if she only knew that in the future she’ll remove that one garment as soon as she closes her front door.) Being the tallest in her class, she has a permanent slouch, a protruding tummy and no waist. She has long legs that are covered with light brown down. She is nearly an inch taller than I and wears two sizes bigger in shoe wear.

I took her shopping for her birthday. The whole adventure would have been laughable had she not been so serious. (Another sign of approaching puberty is the absence of a sense of humor.)

Once we got into the store, I immediately spotted a darling little outfit, which I pointed out to her.

“Ga-rammmy. Wait till I get the lay of the land.” (Translation: She wouldn’t be caught dead in it.)

Duly chastised, I watched as she perused racks, touching fabric, circling tables where she would pick up an item and then lay it back down.

“OK, I’m ready to begin,” she announced.

Fast as lightning she gathered clothing. I stood there in awe. My little granddaughter was growing up, and she has my knack for shopping!

When her arms were filled we went to the dressing room. Unlike when I’m with my grandsons, I was allowed into the inner chamber.

She had collected her stash so fast I didn’t have time to look at what she had chosen (a mistake I won’t make again).

The first pair of slacks she put on are called “low riders.” I wouldn’t let her ride anywhere in them. Although they came to just above the pubic bone and looked they had been painted on, this pair of slacks had a belt.

She decided she didn’t like them so I was saved from telling her I hated them.

Next she tried on what she called “furry” sweats. They looked like garage sale rejects. Threads protruded from seams and the material was so flimsy it felt as it had been worn for years.

She informed me that the “used” look was really in.

“Then why don’t we go to the Salvation Army?” I queried.

She just rolled her eyes. (She is going to have a problem if she doesn’t stop doing that.)

Then she donned a two-piece outfit made of something slinky. I looked at the skirt, which was about the size of a scarf, and started to object. She must have seen the look on my face because she pulled the skirt down below her naval so the hem hit just two inches above the knee. The top covered her belly and hung beautifully.

“The top’s too big,” she sighed.

“What!” I was incredulous. “It fits like it was tailor-made for you.”

“Whatever that means,” was her reply.

Just when I thought our shopping trip was complete and we were headed to the check out, she stopped in her tracks and squealed.

“Oh, Grammy!!” she said. “I just HAVE to have that outfit.”

She was lusting after an army-fatigue- green skirt and dingy mustard colored knit top. It went into the pile. We completed her wardrobe with the ugliest shoes I’ve ever seen. They looked like combat boots with heels.

She was happy: I was exhausted. I don’t know if I’m going to make it through puberty a dozen more times.

This is the first of a two-parter. Next week, I’m going to talk about boys.

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