My girl XX is soon to be 9 years old. She is a pretty young lady and baby at the same time in my eyes. Which kid does actually grow up in their parents’ eyes? Just 9 years back, she was just a cuddly cute thing in our arms and now she is 3/4 my height. She still enjoys much of everything a baby loves, yet, she has her own opinions and is starting to strike out the first step out of our protective arms.
At 8 years old, she is rather slim and tall, has long limbs, a lovely heart-shaped face and loves long hair. She starts to get interested in my make-up set, wants her lips to be glossy, eyelashes to be long and curled and laments that she doesn’t have distinct double eyelids. She is starting to get self-conscious at this age. I am beginning to see in her a blossoming lady with character. She comes back to say there are a few classmates who told her blatantly that they want to be her husband, being a worry pot, I have to start teaching her to beware of indecent suitors.
XX is good in physical games and probably can run faster than me now. She is good in skipping rope, good in almost all ball games, was even accepted into the volleyball school team but rejected as she complains like a missy about her ached wrists. She is tall and strong enough to carry her little brother around. She secretly enjoys people’s praises when she carries him like a 10kg trophy! She is a great helper with the baby too!
She is growing up fast and before we all know, she may starts behaving more of a teen than a child. But while she is still child-like, we are enjoying as much as we can on her open expression of love for us. She used to wave 5 times at each turn before she left my sight when she turned into the school hall. I always stood there for just another minute in case she decided to reappear to wave again. Nowadays, she waves one time on the school bus. And I always stand there with a smile still plastered on till the school bus disappears out of sight, maybe thinking that the school bus may reappear again. She still loves me and Kel to carry her while she clings on to us like a Koala bear with long legs wrapping across our waists. Oh, how long will we get to enjoy this? She still kisses me on my lips before she sleeps and whenever she feels like it.
At 8 years old, she is a cheerful girl. She befriends people more easily than before and seems to be popular in school too. She told me that wherever she goes, there are many friends who call out her name. I am glad she finds it easy to socialize. Even at playgrounds and parties, younger kids love to be with her. She loves to play with her peers and little ones. But still she squabbles non-stop with YH. Could it be due to the 2 year difference in age that their sibling rivalry is so intense?
With an 8 year old, we have to be careful of her emotional development. Friends are becoming increasingly important to them. She has BFFs (Best Friends Forever), and her BFFs change with seasons or maybe more frequent than that. She tells me about how she is BFF with this friend now and then the next day, thinks that she is irritating and announces that she is officially not her BFF overnight! I love her stories and try to hold back too many comments. Still, I will give my two cents worth of advice and opinions when necessary.
XX is a strong-willed girl. At this age, she has her pride and it is important to develop her self-esteem with care. Many times, when she challenges our authority, I have to stand firmly on my ground backed with good reasons and explanation. We can no longer say “do this” or “do not do that”, things that we say when we thought we adults know better. She has her own opinions and thoughts and ask many “why”s. While she used to think funny name callings is fun on her, she now will get upset. While she used to enjoy sand playing, she now thinks she’ll get dirty and much prefer cleaner play. She has grown up.
Strategies to handle an 8 year old
1. Treat her like your best friend
Now is the time to start befriending your 8 year old. My girl loves to talk to me and go out on girly dates. She is especially sweet when she is out with me and I enjoy indulging her once in a while. It’s important that our relationship blossoms to that of a BFF to prepare for her teenage years which will most likely see a volatile rebellious stage of growing up phase. With a BFF relationship, I hope she will always come to me for advice, to tell me secrets and share her problems with me. Being parents, we also need to be her best mentors to guide her, build up her self-esteem, confidence and give her enough freedom to grow up on her own.
2. Catch up with social media and lingo
Recently, I read about kids knowing social media more than their parents which is something heading for serious trouble. I need to constantly update myself on the kids’ lingo and latest trends to speak the same language with them. XX and her brother YH know what is Facebook and yet not too sure how it works except that many people share their lives openly. I have started to educate what is appropriate sharing and what is not. I have started to teach them on the topic of cyber bullying and how we react to them as well as real life bullies. Nowadays kids learn fast and young, as parents, we have to practise due diligence in teaching them the skills to protect themselves.
3. Treat her with respect and trust
At this age, they start to challenge authority and question status quos, which is a good sign that they are thinking and not just accepting things as they are. Many times, I have to remind myself on respecting her and allow her to give her opinions and thoughts. She is also independent enough to make some decisions and face the consequences. When she forgets to learn her spelling and only realizes before she sleeps, I leave her to choose sleeping over last minute attempt to memorize the words. It’s time 8 year olds start taking up responsibility for their actions. We have to learn to let go and respect their decisions. I am preparing myself to handle the more rebellious years to come.
8 years old is a transition stage from a child to teen. Before I know it, my XX will start to outgrow indoor playgrounds, playing with soft toys, drawing cute pictures, doing silly acts together. Bringing the 3 kids out may start to get more difficult very soon with their age gaps come more defined difference of interests. While I need to slowly let go, I am enjoying the transition stage now with kisses and hugs and observing her character emerge as an individual which is uniquely hers.
XX, you are our dearest princess in our eyes forever.
Papa and Mama love you very much! Happy 9th Birthday!
Do check out my post on Characteristics of a 6 year old too.