My Missy 11 is not afraid or shy to meet her kindy teachers anymore. For 5 long years, she had refused to return to visit her childcare teachers while her brother visited them yearly. When I coaxed her to visit her teachers the first year she left the childcare centre, she shook her head and kept saying no, never providing a reason. I gathered she might be feeling shy.

While this may seem nothing much, it actually brings me to pause for a moment to think about how this little girl has gradually changed so much over the turbulent years. You might ask me what turbulent years when we are talking about pre-teen stage. Oh, if you do ask this question, then chances are that you might belong to the category of having kids below 7yo.

Recently, I met a 13yo sister of my son’s classmate who followed her mum around the guests when her mum hosted a playdate in her house. I was pretty impressed that at a tender age of 13, she was learning the ropes of mingling with adult guests. She stood confidently beside her mum and showed interest in our conversation. When we spoke to her, she looked into our eyes. Such confidence and good social etiquette, I thought to myself. Most kids this age would have shut themselves up in their room and immersed in technology. Most kids would have avoided your eyes when they speak. Yet, this girl bothered to spend her weekend afternoon to talk to adults. I marvelled to her mum on my observation. If only my children would grow up to be like her with a good set of social skills. Her mum whispered back,”She wasn’t like this just a year ago,” and winked at me. Now it is beginning to make some sense.

For those who have daughters especially, may face similar growing up pains that I encounter with my Missy. As a girl, she is fast in all her development from baby to toddler to 7yo to 9yo to now. The fast development includes talking back at early years, lying, being rude, confused and struggling to find an identity like a teen, except she is not yet officially a teen now.

I must say after all these years of handling these disciplinary challenges and at the same time showering her with endless love have rewarded me with a girl who is growing in confidence, who is sensible, filial to not only her parents but to all elders including the school cleaners; the good sister who had countless fights with her brother but still willing to de-shell the last piece of her favourite crab for him because her brother doesn’t know how; the ‘little mummy’, a term which I love to call her fondly when she could help her younger brother prepare for bed, read to him, sleep beside him till both fell asleep while daddy and mummy went on a date for the night.

Such is my darling daughter who was an angel turned attitude-kid turned angel again. I am sure I will face more challenges when the real teen years come. But, for now, I know that as long as we put in firm discipline and shower lots of love and maintain our safe and happy family environment for our children, they will turn out fine.

If you are facing lots of heartache and frustration in dealing with your missy, I am totally with you. Often times, I find myself tearing my hair, and tried various methods of hard and soft disciplinary ways, yelled at the top of my voice, cried in the night and doubted my parenting ways. Just when I thought I had failed badly at being a mother, my girl would be obedient again and present her angelic self to me. Kel told me that each disciplinary episode was a passing phase and it was cyclical. This went on and on throughout these turbulent years and I dare to say it will go on and on through the teenage years too.

The major change really came late last year after Missy 11 passed her Math and got more than she worked hard for. She got the Best Progress Award in academics. The best present was when she told me that she wouldn’t have got so far if not for Mummy. I could have cried. All the heartache of growing up pains suddenly seemed a distant history and my efforts paid off. Maybe it was through the time spent with her and my patience to improve her academics that changed her attitude. Maybe it was our constant efforts to instil discipline, empathy, the heart to help and love others that moved her. Maybe it was because she has grown up and has a mature mind of her own.

Back to the 13yo sister who socialized with her mum’s guests. I trust what the mother said that she was not sociable a year ago. When I looked at my Missy 11, I would have told you that she wasn’t like this a year back too. Now, she is more tolerant and patient with her brothers. She is so respectful to elders. She knows consequences and how her actions can have impact on others, and hence is more considerate of other people’s feelings when she speaks. She definitely cares about her daddy and mummy when she writes appreciative words to us, and gives us shoulder massage when she sees that we are tired. She has empathy and is beginning to understand relationships. I think she has emerged a gracious lady.

Raising girls needs lots of patience to tackle “Missy” behaviour. When such patience pays off, I feel I am a good mother. I know she will become my confidante, my best friend and she will always be the little princess in my heart. As long as we shower our kids with lots of love with firm discipline, I am sure they will turn out fine.