A ragged, over-loved, no longer fuzzy stuffed moose named Moosey sits atop my daughter’s pile of clothes to pack for her first overnight trip with school.
He has been her constant companion for over 2 years now. They go everywhere together, he’s under her arm as she falls asleep at night, and she loves him fiercely.
This trip, however, is an uncertain one for Moosey.
You see, my daughter is at the end of her third grade year and taking an overnight trip to the Zoo with her class tonight. And she’s having quite the struggle over whether it’s still OK to bring a stuffed animal on these types of events.
In the van yesterday on the way home from school, she tearfully asked me if she should bring Moosey with her.
She was so worried that the kids in her grade would laugh at her if she brought her beloved Moosey to their sleep-over field trip tonight.
I could see how the battle was being waged in her 9-year-old mind:
I love Moosey, and I don’t want to leave him behind.
I will be so much less scared if he’s there with me.
But what if these kids think I’m weird or a baby if I bring him with me?
As I looked at my daughter through the review mirror, I saw a child on the precipice of tween-dom. I saw a little girl still who still needs the comforts of home so not to be scared struggling with the desire of a pre-teen to be accepted by her peers.
It has begun. In the midst of homework, family weekends, learning how to ride a bike, and fighting with her sisters, my 9-year-old turned from a child into something more. Something slightly scary to me as her mama. I’ve never parented a tween before – I have no idea what the right thing is to do here.
The mother of the child wants to hold her and tell her that of course she should bring Moosey with her – he is her BFF and they are always together. And we both know she’ll be more at ease with him there.
The mom of the tween, however, knows how kids are. I don’t remember them being like this when I was in third grade – I’m pretty sure it was middle school before it began for me – but I know that kids will find any perceived weakness and expose it. Especially if they have similar insecurities.
I want to protect my baby from being scared but I also want to protect my tween from the teasing of other kids.
So I told her the first thing that popped into my mind. In our van, on a county road leading from her school to our house, I spoke a cliche to my 9-year-old daughter.
Those who matter don’t care, and those who care don’t matter.
It’s funny how those little idioms stick in our brains, isn’t it?
I don’t know the last time I used that phrase, but I’m so happy that it popped into my mind yesterday after school.
Because at the end of the day, it’s one of the truest things about human relationships. Those who matter just don’t care. They don’t care if you hug a stuffed moose at night to sleep more soundly. They don’t care if you have a weird laugh or like things that other people don’t like or prefer books over people or any of that. They love you for who you are.
And the people who do care about that nonsense – well I have another cliche for them. Bless and release. Just let them go. They do.not.matter. And they aren’t worth another second of your precious time worrying over them.
I understand that this is a hard concept to grasp for adults so I don’t expect my 9-year-old to master it overnight. But I hope it is something she will consider when she opens the overnight bag that I’m packing for her today while she’s at school and sees Moosey’s little nose poking up among the jammies and toiletries she collected.
Even if the Tween wins out over the Child and Moosey stays in the bag – she will know that he is there if she needs him and that her mama has her back. As we enter this new phase of life with her, those are two things that I want to know she is sure of.
Until next time,