When You’re 10

The puppy-to-dog process is way, way too quick.

The puppy-to-dog process is way, way too quick.

Miles run today: 0 (long run tomorrow)

Letters received from my sister as a result of my Unofficial Handwrite-a-Letter Day: 1 (yay!)

Age of my baby today: 10

My baby girl turns 10 years old today. (Yes, if you keep up with the blog, you’re probably wondering, “Didn’t we just do this?” My son and daughter are a mere six days (and two years) apart in age.)

She has a penchant for fluffy boots and chocolate, a wildly imaginative inner world and blue eyes that can slice you in half if you aren’t careful.

Back when I was 10, my teacher was a prim, petite, older (50!) woman who tried very hard not to smile at our fifth-grade antics and mostly succeeded.

She was the architect of my first fateful newspaper project, the one that seemed to go on and on and on… and would set a weird precedent for later, more doomed newspaper projects.

She was the impetus for my first nonfiction presentation to the class in which I used a plastic Smurf sailboat to explain fore and aft, port and starboard to my classmates.

And she became the reluctant sex ed/body development teacher she never wanted to be. When one of my friends got what she thought was her period, it set off a crazed fifth-grade rumor mill and parental letter campaign that forced my teacher to address the misinformation, horror and general unrest by teaching us about our bodies long before she was prepared. I felt for her; comprehensive sex ed was not part of her repertoire.

It was a strange year.

When I was in fifth grade, the teenage daughter of another fifth grade teacher was kidnapped from the parking lot of her job at Fashion Bug.

When I was in fifth grade, I went to sleepovers that my mother cringes about to this day, where we left the house in the middle of the night and roamed the neighborhood just because. The mom was MIA.

And when I was in fifth grade, I took one of the worst class pictures ever invented in the history of class pictures that my “friends” have now posted on Facebook. Totally, gag me with a spoon.

Fifth grade was the beginning of ugly, the beginning of having to wash my hair every single day, and the end of the innocent days where sniffing smelly magic markers was the worst thing you could do. Middle school seemed far away, a distant destination that seemed both grown-up and thrilling.

For my daughter, I hope that being 10 is everything she wants it to be, full of warm hoodies and plenty of cake. And I hope that she gets to play in the snow this winter, since she missed it last winter when she was 9.

I think I know what she would say about all of that:

“I know, right?”


37 thoughts on “When You’re 10

  1. Nice post….nostalgia inducing….and “new catchphrase (to me) inducing” : Totally, gag me with a spoon

    Best to birthday girl!


  2. Ravena Guron says:

    OMG I’m one of the first to comment! (YAY!) This never happens! 🙂

    I had a teacher like that in the 2nd grade (?) She didn’t teach us sex ed or anything (don’t worry!) but she NEVER smiled… And she always told me off a lot. And she would see me hiding behind someone else and pick on me JUST BECAUSE SHE COULD. *Whew* Rant over.

    Hope the birthday girl has a great day! 🙂

    • annewoodman says:

      Sounds like that teacher left a mark. Use it, grasshopper, in your wonderful YA books. She has given you good fodder for writing. ; )

      Thanks for the birthday wishes!

  3. Amy Mak says:

    Oh my, this is so great. I have this terribly sentimental view of all things past but when you put 5th grade this way…! What happened to the kidnapped teenager? I hope she came home. And the memories of your mother are hilarious. They’re going to talk about us like this someday. I know, right?

    • annewoodman says:

      I’m pretty sentimental, too, but I have a good memory. It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns (well, there was a lot of that, too).

      The kidnapped teenager’s body was found a few years later. It was very tragic.

      My mom is slightly horrified that I talk about her on my blog. I told her that anyone who reads it will know I was a pain. ; )

  4. Amy Mak says:

    p.s. Do you find Twitter a good way to stir up traffic? I haven’t been able to go there…:)

    • annewoodman says:

      I am going on Twitter mostly to learn more about it for my (really, really hopefully imminent) full-time job. I need to know as much about social media as possible. So far, I’m not sure if it’s doing much. But maybe in the future?? I’ll keep you posted.

  5. Bernie Brown says:

    So, this time of the year at your house has lots of celebrations, birthdays and Christmas. Your gift budget must be bursting at the seams! But so are your blessings. 🙂 And, somehow I got in on the use of “gag me with a spoon” when I was a teen. Given the disparity of our ages, maybe the phrase was making its second go-round when you used it in fifth grade.

    • annewoodman says:

      Yes, and our anniversary is in two days, Bernie! It’s crazy.

      I can’t believe you were already saying “gag me with a spoon!” I thought that was a 1980s Valley Girl thing!

  6. David Gentry says:

    Thank you for your post. I did not read too much fear into it — fear on your part that is — which is good. You and Daryl have given Savannah and Ben the most important thing any child can receive and that is unconditional love, and I thank you for it. Savannah and Ben have a great head start in life. They may cause you angst at times, but you and they will live through it. When I was in your position, a parent with pre-teens, I comforted myself by repeating, “To be happy, they need to grow up.” It helped.

    From one who has been there: I love you, Dad.

    • annewoodman says:

      Thanks, Dad. And thanks for letting me grow up. I’m getting all of the growing pains now on the other side… it gives me so much empathy for you and Mom. So much.

  7. kabe1 says:

    Oh to be 10 again! Those were the days of ra-ra skirts, pixie boots and leg warmers for me and listening to tapes on my brand new tape recorder!

  8. Carrie Rubin says:

    Did you keep a journal when you were young or do these memories just stay with you? Although even I could remember someone getting kidnapped. How horrible. Was she found?

    Happy Birthday to your daughter!

    • annewoodman says:

      I guess the memories just stuck. I can recall school so clearly. And my family can remember stuff that we remind each other about as far as family vacations, etc. I think it’s all part of how we turn out as adults. And of course, I get plenty wrong or muddled up in my recollections. And there aren’t enough friends from that time who read my blog who can call me out!

    • annewoodman says:

      Oh, and I forgot to add: the girl’s body was found a few years later. It was a very sad end to a horrifying, tragic case.

  9. Hey, it’s my son’s birthday today! And my daughter’s birthday is in a couple of weeks time. Happy birthday to your daughter 🙂

    When we had sex ed at school, I remember kids being really cruel and asking the poor teacher questions like “Do you do that?” I also remember they had us practising putting condoms onto cucumbers. Cucumbers! They were clearly setting us up for disappointment later.

    • annewoodman says:

      Happy birthday to your son (and your daughter in case I forget)! I guess you’re super-busy this time of year, too!

      OMG. I can’t imagine them using cucumbers in sex ed here. Wow. You were so progressive. ; )

    • jmmcdowell says:

      Oh, the cucumbers are hysterical! 😀 Did that class leave some of the boys with a feeling of inadequacy?!

      • That was probably the idea, make the boys feel inadequate so that they wouldn’t be so keen to…well…you know! Although, thinking about it, I don’t actually remember boys being in that class, so maybe they separated boys and girls for sex ed.

  10. Jenn says:

    I can’t believe she’s 10. I remember going to your baby shower for her, where we suggested that Wonder Woodman would be a pretty awesome name for a baby girl. (In retrospect, Savannah was a much better choice. Good job.) You have such a good memory–I apparently have blocked out much of the 5th grade. That was the year I had several different teachers because Mr. Green got fired mysteriously, and we had that awful woman Ms. Tomacheck, who really didn’t like children very much. So perhaps that’s why it’s foggy–my brain is protecting itself. I do remember your newspaper project though–it must have been epic if I remember the pain of it vicariously. I hope Savannah’s year 10 is more auspicious than either of ours. We just got your card yesterday (overachiever!), and I was remarking on what a sweet smile she has…just like her Mom :).

    • annewoodman says:

      Thanks. Wonder Woodman does have remarkable alliteration, I’ll grant you that.

      I forgot about Mr. Green! I wonder if your mom would remember why he got fired?? Yeah, 5th grade wasn’t the greatest year for us, was it? At least I had you! ; )

      Thanks–I have wised up on cards. Get the photo early and never look back. If someone looks not so great, tell them to suck it up. (Sometimes I can see the similarity in my daughter and me… and it scares me. ; )

      • Jenn says:

        In retrospect, I think it may have had something to do with his sexual orientation. I was oblivious to such things at the time; but given that it was Georgia and another male teacher got fired at the exact same time (Mr. Stone?), one wonders. It really was too bad because as I recall, he was a great teacher for the six weeks or so I had him. And that Tomachek woman was beyond the pale terrible.

        Every year I say that we’re going to take the photo before Thanksgiving. Every year I fail. Last year I said we were going to get someone with some actual photography skills to take some photos of us in October. I would pay them. It would be scheduled. Everyone would look nice at the same time. Images of our entire family together at the same time would be recorded for posterity. We did not do that. Next year will be my year. In the meantime, you can expect another nearly New Years card from us this year featuring only the short and the furry members of our family.

      • annewoodman says:

        I look forward to seeing the short and furry members of your family at New Year’s! I can’t imagine keeping twins still for any family photo. Wow.

        I would never have thought of that about Mr. Green. Poor guy! I wonder where he went next?? I hope he had a good life after escaping our inhospitable elementary school world.

  11. jmmcdowell says:

    Your memories of 10 are so much sharper than mine! My main memory of fifth grade was when one of our teachers was killed while trying to run across the railroad tracks before the train came through. I think that was my first real introduction to someone dying.

    Keep watching your children as children because they’ll be adults before you know it! Even before they know it, too, although it’ll feel like forever to them. 😉

    • annewoodman says:

      Wow–that’s pretty horrifying! These days, they would probably have a grief counselor ready to help. Back then, I don’t remember anyone bringing up things like that. For us, they pretended the whole teacher’s daughter thing never happened.

      I know–kids grow up sooooo quickly.

  12. Melissa says:

    Hmm….10. I remember being very awkward. All arms and legs. And I remember my sister (age 13) sailing through puberty and looking stunning…as in stop traffic model stunning. Which pointed out just how awkward I was. I think that’s why I remember my boys at 10 better than I remember me. I do enough awkward now that I don’t need to be reminded about the awkward of my youth….yeah, about that.

    • annewoodman says:

      Melissa, you’re not awkward! And really, who isn’t awkward at that age?? I bet your sister was the most awkward she ever was at age 10 (even if that wasn’t super-awkward). Bless our hearts for surviving it.

  13. Love your last line. A nice little tidbit for your loyal followers.

    So! When are you gonna post that fifth grade picture?

  14. Wow – not having children, I love this insight into how meaningful it can be when your babies turn into those significant ages that you have a whole range of memories from. I am intrigued about that picture!! And that dog is too cute. I want it.

  15. 4amWriter says:

    Fun. My daughter turns 10 in January, and we’re both feeling the highs and lows of the milestone. Fifth grade is right around the corner, in a totally different school, and friends have now become frienemies. But, yes, as long as there are candy canes and warm snuggles in front of a movie, then this milestone will be okay.

    I need to know, was the kidnapped girl ever found???

    • annewoodman says:

      Oh! Fifth grade in another school? Wow! It so happens that my daughter turned 10 while she is still in 4th grade… I was a summer baby, so I was 10 all through 5th grade. It doesn’t totally correlate. But yes, there are still warm snuggles. And I will hold onto those as long as I possibly can. ; )

      And the kidnapped girl’s body was found a few years later. It was tragic.

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