THE QUEEN OF TWEEN AND THE FUTURE GRAND MASTER

I can’t put my finger on the exact moment, but somewhere in the middle of second grade, Tigger went from a little girl to… something else. I can’t call her a pre-teen, because in my mind that’s the 11-12, too-old-for-toys-too-young-for-boys era. Marketing demographers call the 8-12 cohort “tweens.” They even have their own stores now (Limited Too, for example, and Club Libby Lu). Now 8.5, Tigger has embraced tweenitude with great enthusiasm.

Case in point: she has discovered the power of the telephone. Tigger has a best-friend-forever, I’ll call her Lulu. Lulu calls Tigger so often that I no longer bother answering the phone. It’s not for me. Tigger has been known to wake up early on weekend mornings and ask how long she has to wait before she can call Lulu. Once she gets on the phone, she disappears into the tween vortex.

When I was a kid, talking on the phone meant sitting in one spot, tethered to the wall. It was a major thrill and great privilege when I got a phone installed in my bedroom, so I could be tethered to my own wall. Tigger has no such restraints. She grabs the cordless handset and carries it to her room, where she boots up her favorite web site and she and Lulu play the games together in their separate locations.

Then there’s the music. No more kiddie tunes for this young chick. She’s rocking out to the Cheetah Girls. (I don’t know who the Cheetah Girls are, but Tigger assures me they are way cool.) I’m happy to say she’s absorbed some of my tastes… her favorite mix disc includes Aretha Franklin demanding R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Meanwhile, Little Bit continues her mathematical obsessions. Jealous of Tigger’s homework, yesterday Little Bit brought me a pile of blank paper and a pencil and asked me to write some math problems for her. On the first page I put 12 addition problems with sums less than 10. 4.5 seconds later she handed it back to me completed and asked for something more challenging. The page of 30 problems with sums to 20 took all of 5 minutes.

I don’t know what sparked this today, but it was inevitable: Little Bit came home from preschool and asked me to teach her to play chess.

I like chess all right, but I’m not very good at it. It’s a spatial game and that’s just not my forte. When I taught Tigger to play a few years ago, she immediately turned the game into what I can only call “girl chess.” The king and queen had a big wedding, the bishops ran off to ride on the knights, and the pawns had a dance party.

But Little Bit is all business. I started by explaining how all the pieces are allowed to move. She listened intently and understood everything except for the movement pattern of the knights. That’s pretty tricky. Then she played a whole game with me, without ever causing the pieces to become friends or placing Kleenex blankets over them when they got captured and went to sleep.

The alarming thing is that our school has a crackerjack chess team, with a whole case full of trophies. The chess kids’ lives (and therefore, their parents’ lives) revolve around local, state, and national chess tournaments. Am I going to become a Chess Mom?

I’ll tell you this… if she keeps playing, she’ll be kicking my butt before she gets to Kindergarten, for sure.

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31 thoughts on “

  1. Your almost-tween sounds a bit like my newly tweeny tween. I had to laugh when she sniffed her underarms after volleyball practice and reported that she “smelled baaad!” I laughed and welcomed her to the world of pre-teen, and deodorant. The deodorant days are upon me more quickly than I expected. Then there’s the shaving, and the boys, and *heart stops beating, briefly* *sigh*

  2. Gots the three daughters here. Haven’t answered the phone in years! Even when they’re not home, because I’m not the freakin’ secretary!!!
    The Old Man tried to teach me chess when we were first married. Tried to explain to me how these pieces can only move this way, others can only go a different way.
    “This is supposed to be a GAME, right?”
    “Well, yeah, a challenging game.” He told me
    Well screw that! Life is challenging. A GAME is supposed to be FUN! Like UNO! Now that’s a game!

  3. Thank goodness that neither of mine care to answer the phone…. yet. Although there are some very tween-y tantrums happening with the 9.5 year old Calvin and Ramona did her big brother’s math homework last night. She is quite dissapointed that they there hasn’t been any ‘real’ math homework yet and that the first week of grade one has not brought subtraction work sheets, yet. Both of mine love chess and played with their sitter all summer; I suck and they beat me every time.

  4. Since my kids are now old married people who call me on the phone to complain about the cost of health insurance, I’m glad that I can relive the early years through the adventures of Tigger and Little-Bit. Keep the stories coming.

  5. This Cheetah Girls phase will never last, because everyone knows “Cheetahs never prosper.”
    Good for Little Bit!  I’ll bet she’ll be the first kindergartener to captain her school’s chess team.

  6. You may have read one of my earlier blogs in which I described how torturous my childhood was.  If so ………
    THANK YOU for letting me enjoy a happier kidtime, through your eyes and through the eyes of your charming little ones.  You are one heckuva great chronicler.

  7. LOL at girl chess.  My husband has a Star Wars chess set that my son likes to use for, I guess, little boy chess.  No weddings or laying down with blankies, just lots and lots of fighting and killing.  Fortunately, they are relatively sturdy resin pieces.  (Except for those flimsy light sabers.)

  8. My daughter is only six and already embraces the tween world.  She loves Cheetah Girls.  Do you remember Raven, from the Cosby Show?  She also has her own show now called “That’s So Raven”.  Out of all the little bimbettes my daughter could be mimicking, this one I don’t mind so much.  She at least wears clothes instead of lingerie.

  9. RYC: No, my sister painted it. It’s her creation. Should be famous if you ask me. Unlike the profile pic, I have black hair and though it is crazy it does not look cool and wild. Just messy. I am quite pale though, so THAT fits

  10. RYC:  And you for wabbits, yes?  I wish you luck, by the way–tweens turn into teens, so you’re doomed with a capital “D.”  But just remember, when you get old and grey you can get even by moving in with them.

  11. I figured out about 2 weeks into my Freshman year of college that I was destined to be a reader rather than a writer! It saved me a lot of rejection letters, I’m sure. It sounds like Tigger needs one of those “incoming calls are free” plans, and Little Bit could use some Chess books or videos.

  12. OMG.  Started laughing IMMEDIATELY when I saw the Cheetah girls CD at the top of the post. Anyone that thinks that big companies don’t market to kids doesn’t get Disney channel.  The DQ listens to that CD on her private CD player.  (Fellow Xangans – If you get an iPod, give your portable CD player to your 6 year old.  You will thank me.)   Wife and I were hoping for a Little Bit-style kid (we are both profession science types).  Instead, we have a blossoming hippie-chick!  (lol).   See ya round the blogsphere.  Peace!

  13. Thank you for stopping in and leaving a comment, as for tweens and phones, i dont anwser them anymore. we have 6 kids and 3 different phone numbers to this one household. plus several cell phones, 3 computers and 1 laptop. I dont have a chance. As for girl chess, sounds like fun, but I always wanted to learn the game. later, rochelle P.S. love your site and your stories. Ill keep reading.

  14. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RABBIT!  Set your wild, rabbit side free for a little while and dance to the Cheetah Girls (or maybe Madonna, Lucky Star) while eating Doritos and talking on the phone to your bestest friend forever, without pausing to take a breath. If you’re feeling any sort of symptoms of age at all, that should cure it!

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