Yesterday, the realization that my oldest child is turning eight finally solidified in my overtaxed brain. My former almost-nine-pound baby is nearing my height and almost fits into my shoes, which, admittedly, given my height isn’t that amazing, really, but she is growing up. No doubt about it.
We were at the Y for free swim, and met up with friends after their weekly lesson for a few minutes of play. Moms chatted, kids cavorted. Mitzi and our friends’ younger son are in the same grade; his brother, a year older. I was a little surprised when the older boy was the one who swam up, looking for my daughter. The pair goofed around, and it struck me that the play had a very small, almost undetectable edge of flirtatiousness to it, the sweet kind that only young children can have when they think no one is looking. It was clearly innocent, fun, and nothing of real note. But watching the silliness and the splashing, I was reminded of the sort of playfighting that occurs between teens who like each other (come on, you remember those days), and it was then I understood for the first time that the reality of growing up loomed before us, closer than maybe we’d realized.
I’ve been thinking of this all day, how I need to start being aware of the changes on the horizon, the ways I hope to model positive behavior, and the means by which Mitzi (and her siblings to follow) enter and evaluate the world around them. Suddenly, the casualness with which they occasionally watch certain Disney Channel seems less benign.
Not that I’m leaning toward overprotectiveness, but certainly I need to consider what messages my kids, especially my daughters, receive from the world around them.
So it was with dismay that I learned of the financial struggles of New Moon Girls Magazine. If you haven’t yet seen this periodical, check it out (www.newmoon.com). It’s an advertising-free publication, written almost exclusively by girls — a gem amid other teen fare. Not that I have anything against those others — I remember being young and begging for subscriptions to 16, Seventeen, whatever.
But now I’m the mom, and now there are different choices. New Moon strives to offer girls ages 8-14 an alternative to magazines primarily concerned with diets, beauty tips, celebrity profiles, and fashion updates. I came across New Moon in my writing research and was, frankly, surprised by the high quality of the writing by children. New Moon doesn’t ignore the concerns of girls in this age group — rather, those concerns are discussed without pandering to the idea that a girl is only as good as her looks, and a BFF is only as true as her Facebook profile.
Sadly, those qualities don’t help a magazine do well in today’s economy. Without increased sales, New Moon will fold at the end of the year. Luckily, those sales amount to only about 250 subscriptions a month, a paltry amount when you consider the numbers of girls eager for a voice in their confusing world.
So my sales plug of the day — check this mag out. Buy your daughter a subscription. Or a neice. Or a friend’s daughter. Or buy one for your library. You could sponsor a membership for low-income girls who have fewer options of experience and exposure than their more well-off peers. Tell your kids’ teachers about New Moon — as a teacher I would’ve loved another place to encourage my budding writers to send their well-penned articles and essays, not to mention the opportunity to show real kids’ writing to my students.
Mitzi is turning 8 in January, just after Christmas. And I’m pretty sure that for one of these celebrations she’s going to get a year of New Moon to enjoy. It’s not going to alter the challenges ahead of us, but maybe it’s a start.
What about you?