Soon after Corazon turned 12 she rejoiced at the thought of becoming a teenager in one more year. I told her that many American parents dread the teen years because their once lovely children can become difficult and challenging "strangers" overnight. I recounted the story of a friend of mine whose daughter vowed at age 9 to never become that way and even allowed him to videotape her promising this. She turned 13 recently and was being particularly difficult one day so he pulled out that video and showed it to her. Her response was "whatever" as she stormed out of the room. She thought about it for a second and vowed it would not happen to her.
I guess the conversation stayed with her because a few days later she came back to me and said "Mom, I think you have already put up with me being difficult and attitudinal when I was a little kid. So, I don't think it would be fair if I did it again just because I became a teenager." I secretly wondered if that was her way of trying to take control of something that felt like it would be completely out of her control. She likes control and struggles mightily when she feels she has no control over her own actions or behaviors. Then again, if that caused us to have easier teen years, I'd take it.
It is now one year later and I must say that whatever that kid is doing and whatever her need for control is, she was right. The transition to teenage-hood has been mostly pleasant. She has chilled out and calmed down tremendously. She laughs at herself and is genuinely fun to be around much of the time. We rarely get "payback" after fun times. Of course, she has her difficult moments and she still has some pretty bad times but that is what they are-bad times that punctuate the good times. We are no longer in those stretches of hellish behavior with a few respite moments in between. We are generally in good times. She still sneaks sometimes and lies sometimes and makes bad choices sometimes. Her attitude and defiance get out of hand at times and once in a while some pretty ugly stuff comes to light. We try to work through it as best we can and move forward. It's the ebb and flow of life with hormones, peer pressures, budding desires for independence coupled with overwhelming doubts about almost everything. Yet, it is "life."
She has become a most delightful and enjoyable young woman. She and C. laugh together and have actual conversations. Corazon no longer shoots daggers with her eyes at C. every time she sees us together or thinks C. is getting more attention from free than Corazon thinks C. should (this has ALWAYS been a major issue for us.) Corazon wants to spend time with C. and they have been able to work out at the pool together on a more regular basis. At home, Corazon will ask me "what can I do for you?" and other times jumps to help without being asked. We play board games, do her hair, discuss books, stay up late baking birthday cakes or cleaning the guest room together. We have difficult conversations and she pouts and rolls her eyes but comes back later and thanks me or asks a question that shows she is paying attention.
My little girl is growing up and she is winning her battle against a history of neglect and trauma. She battles it every day and some days she gets tired and doesn't fight so hard. Other days I can see the struggle and it both hurts and melts my heart to see how hard she has to work to keep it together. It has been (and will likely continue to be) an uphill battle with days when none of us thought we'd survive, but we did and we carry our battle scars with honor (and just a tinge of embarrassment at times).