With the two big holidays just around the corner, consider this a public service announcement for families like ours.
My nephews and my husband’s brothers are around the same age. (it’s a cool combo of me being the youngest in my family, him being the oldest, with a gap of 8 years between him and his brother) Waiting to have Madigan later in life has been great for us. Deciding we were only having 1 kid was also a perfect decision for us, we can afford to raise and care for one other person. The problem, no kids Madigan’s age.
We have a sort of half generation kid. Madigan’s generation so far is Justin (30) , Mikey (25), Madigan (12). The boys have already started the next generation with Emma, who is 3, Ava turns 1 next month and the new baby (who I shall call Nacho Jazz Butcher). Boomer’s brothers haven’t started their families yet. Madigan has no cousins her age. And she never will.
If that’s not sad enough, she ends up being the only kid at family functions. She will never know what it’s like to eat at the kids table. Being the only kids can’t be easy for her. Always with adults, having to listen to conversations about who is sick, who just got married, who is going to have a baby or who just died. She has heard stories about people she never met, and people she will never meet. Grown up talk is very boring.
Kids are adorable when they are 10 and under, imaginative, playing with little toys, telling stories, saying cute things (when Madigan was small and I asked her if frog friend was a boy or girl, she said “He just a fwog fwend”). Being cute was all you needed to engage or connect. It’s tougher the older kids get. There is more of an attitude, more self consciousness, hormones messing with moods all comes with the teen territory. She would rather I tell a story about what happened to her than her tell it herself. Her interests are far from mainstream and require effort to learn about and understand. I know more about her fandoms than should be allowed for an adult. But if it’s important to her, it’s important to me.
If you find yourself at a family dinner with a teen who has her arms crossed, rolling eyes and seem irritated, please don’t assume they have an attitude or are sullen. (She might have her arms crossed cause she is not terribly comfortable with her body changing. Eye rolling is a way of communication, she just might not have the words to explain what she is feeling. And she is absolutely irritated cause she can’t do what she wants to do right this moment. Getting together with family means nothing to her now, she has YEARS to do it. It’s the rest of us who know life is short and one day we all won’t be here.) It is hard being a kid, and the only kid ever, at family functions. She didn’t ask for that. She didn’t ask to be born a half generation.
Oh and lets just say you do ask her about this…
she might make a sound where she exhales very loudly and rolls her eyes, but please don’t stop trying to connect with her. It’s important that we stay connected to the teens in the not so easy times so when they come out on the other side they realize we have been with them the whole time. It will make it easier for them to apologize.