Hormones and the 'Surly Stage' - Is 10 Too Young for it to Begin?

Please tell me I have more time before the hormones fully kick in...



I can't quite believe this, but next week my little girl will turn 10. I know all parents say this, but I really can't comprehend how quickly this birthday has arrived. After all, a decade is a big chunk of time yet the day feels so recent that her cross, wrinkled little face first peered up at me under the hot glare of the hospital lights and I can honestly say she has been a delight to have around ever since.

I could go all contemplative and produce a litany of all the good times we've shared thus far but I'll spare you that; instead, I want to concentrate on the H word and all the hell that ensues upon its arrival. Hormones.

Even before the big Double-Digit-Birthday began looming, there were already signs of some kind of pre-pubescent personality change. In the beginning, these 'episodes' were fairly rare and sporadic: the odd teary outburst followed by a concerned line of questioning from me about what was wrong, you can always talk to me, I'm here to help etc. Recently, however, they've been occurring with unsettling regularity and are now accompanied by eye-rolling, sighing and monosyllables, usually in response to homework requests or ill-directed adult humour about the music of today.

You'd think already having a fourteen-year-old son whose lorryload of hormones kicked in two years ago would have prepared me for this inevitability. Once sweet, easy to please and good fun to be around, he turned, almost overnight, into this grunting creature who desired to wear nothing but black, stay up all night and consume vast quantities of calorie-laden snacks, followed immediately by saying he was still hungry. I found out quickly that there is nothing more grounding as a parent than the day you have to gingerly knock on your son's bedroom door for fear of what you might find inside if you don't. It's still playing out, but I've adapted. Sort of.

What I didn't stop to think about was that girls tend to mature far earlier than boys.

I really should have known this would happen, since I remember it clearly from my own past. Although my pubescent experience is now just a misty retrospection, one thing that shines more brightly than anything in my memory is that excruciating juxtaposition of thinking you know it all whilst not having the necessary tools to deploy your talents. It's an extraordinary mix of unsophistication and potential, covering everything from sexuality and academic or creative prowess which can take many years to shuffle into position. It's frustrating enough trying to figure that stuff out as an adult, let alone a ten-year-old!

Puberty will never change, but add to the above the new pressures young people face today such as social media and the internet and you can understand how tough it must be for them.

So next time I'm shut down in one syllable or tutted at for not knowing something I should, I really need to remember all this. It's a tough old world she's about to enter, and although it's just beginning for her, I still wish it wouldn't happen quite so soon!

Jayne, Working Mum and Freelance Editor

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