As I sit here on holiday, feet up, half drunk San Miguel on the go beside me, La Child is in the pool using a pair of goggles to beat the shit out of a rubber ring whilst delighting us with a rousing rendition of Let's Go Fly a Kite. Nothing unusual to see here, move along, move along.
Increasingly, however, La Child has been demonstrating certain...traits. Behaviours. Habits. Acts which when taken in the round would appear to suggest that perhaps certain hormonal changes may be taking place earlier than we would all have liked. To whit:
'I didn't ask to be born!'
'I have to do everything around here!'
'It's so unfair!'
Now don't get me wrong, La Child has never been a model of perfection and propriety. Saying please and thank you has always been a challenge. Empathy is not, and has never been, her strongest skill. La Child has always been, well, a bit feisty. She has her opinions and has never been afraid to share them. She has, for some time, been entirely happy to be considered every bit as grown up as the grown ups and I confess that, for as long as she's been capable of communicating with us as one, we've been happy to treat her like one...to a point. But something subtle has changed over the past few weeks. The moods have deepened, the tempers become more frequent. Communication is increasingly a series of grunts, and patience wears quickly thin (two minutes ago I overheard her ranting at her DS, shouting 'you wretched thing!' for apparently not reacting as quickly as it clearly should). An attitude has surfaced that wasn't there before. Every request is met with a 'no,' every question with a shrug of the shoulders, every refusal results in meltdown and accusations of bad parenting. A telling off sees her issuing a threat to call in the authorities. And suddenly she is her own worst critic. Each thing she does is 'rubbish', every attempt at anything is pointless. Life, it seems, has overnight become really quite difficult for poor old Child.
In other words she has, it seems, become a teenager. There are even slight physical changes, breasts seem to be budding, she has an obsession with body hair, mood swings come and go, an apparently constant need to readjust herself, but... But. She's eight. Surely it can't be? Not yet?
I'm sure someone vaguely old and wifey told me many years ago that children develop in one of two ways: either they're angelic pre-pubescents and go on to be evil teenagers, or they're horrific pre-pubescents and become easy teenagers. Ha ha har har de har. To date we've had feisty pre-pubescent with notes of Right Cow followed by an escalation to Hint of Lucifer. If this carries on we'll soon be at Full Sauron and the fall of civilisation as we know it.
Home schooling, you say? Yes. Hmm. Well.