A Coming-of-Age Letter to Tween Girls

04/29/2016 08:07 am ET

Dear 12-Year-Old Girl:

I saw you the other day wearing a dress that your mom bought. You enhanced your ensemble with a sassy thrift store jean jacket and high-top boots with neon laces—just to make sure your personality came through.

You were annoyed at your mom for telling you, “No, we can’t run to Justice to shop just because you got a gift card five minutes ago.” So you sulked in your dress while you played with dolls.

You probably don’t know it, but you’re a beautiful contradiction.

On one hand you can’t wait to wear make-up, on the other you can’t part with your favorite stuffed animals.

You want to have quality time with your mom to shop or go for coffee, yet sometimes you don’t want anything to do with her ‘cuz she just doesn’t get you.

You yell one minute and want to snuggle the next.

Your hormones are ping-ponging all over the place…leaving you edgy, emotional, or elated.

There are changes happening in your body (although your Dad’s in denial) and armpit hair, bra-shopping, and period talk have worked their way into conversations.

You’re riding the fence between who you once were and the young woman that you are becoming.

You aren’t totally sure who you are yet, but you have strong opinions about what you like, don’t like, and what makes you happy or sad (these of course could change at any moment, so your mom would be wise not to assume that she has them nailed down).

Sometimes your legs ache as you grow taller.

Sometimes your temper flares as your younger siblings push all your buttons.

Sometimes you cry because you don’t know why you’re feeling sad or mad.

Sometimes you don’t want boys to talk to you, others times you enjoy their attention.

Sometimes you want to dress like you’re 18, and other times you’re upset that your Easter dress from 3rd grade doesn’t fit anymore.

Sometimes you slam your door shut, other times you leave it open—hoping that mom will come hang out and listen to your problems.

Sometimes you’re so happy you could cry. There’s a lot of crying when you’re 12—it’s okay.

You long to be independent and make your own choices—about clothing, room decor, and your social calendar.

You want to be taken seriously, even when you’re wearing two different socks, a rubber-band fruit ring, and leggings with the vintage radio pattern.

Sometimes you take your parents’ breath away with your beauty and grace.

Sometimes you respond with, “Sure Mom, I can do that” and your maturity shines well beyond your years.

Sometimes—if mom quits lecturing—you open up about friend issues, cute boys, dreams and disappointments.

Sometimes you still get scared and just need some reassurance that you’re going to be okay.

It’s not easy being a 12-year-old girl or parenting one for that matter. But it’s a privilege on both accounts.

You see, being 12 is a great age. It’s interesting, definitely unpredictable, and a special season of discovery.

It’s a time where you can still play with dolls and also get dolled-up in more grown-up clothes and it’s perfectly acceptable.

It’s a time to raise your voice in order to find it.

It’s a time to still dance on Daddy’s feet but also wash your feet more often—because they stink a little more.

It’s a time for shaving, extra support on top, and tackling pesky pimples.

It’s a time to indulge in a few extra sweets as you work your way through waves of emotions.

It’s a time like no other, so enjoy it. Live it up.

Say “I’m sorry" when you’re mean. Cuddle with your parents when you’re sad.

Find out what you’re good at and put the time in to get better at it.

Don’t fight 12, but embrace it–and all the ups and downs that come with it.

12 looks good on you. Wear it proud—neon laces and all.

Love,

Ms. Reid

This post first appeared on katiemreid.com

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