The Magical Age of 12

The magical age seems to be 12.

Girls teetering dangerously close to the edge, Others dangling from the precipice

Of puberty

Out bodies are already beginning to give a hint of things to come.

That’s when it all starts!  People begin to notice.  (Guys mostly).  We are beginning to flower, to blossom, to bloom.

A strangely wonderful and uncomfortable change comes over us.  We understand – somewhat – we are no longer girls, not quite women.

We bear the hallmarks of a woman!  Breasts (still perky and pointy).  Hips (fuller now to match our breasts).  And, as yet, uncharted Virgin territory (for some of us, but not for all).

What has been happening…slowly, but surely…in our bodies, this whole time, we are now very aware of.

So is every male around us.

Overnight, it seems, they have stopped viewing us as:  sisters, daughters, friends, children.

We are now sexual beings.  Our bodies showing promises of womanhood.

How do they treat us?  How should they respond to us?  What are they supposed to do?

The same changes are taking place in their bodies too.  They are no longer our:  brothers, sons, friends, children.

We have been merely pretending this whole time.  Flirting with each other.  Passing notes back and forth.

Will you be my boyfriend?  Yes or No.  Circle one.

Writing Janie Loves Johnny.  True Love Forever.

It seems suddenly we also understand “Forever” better too.   A sense of permanence.  Stability.  In a time when nothing in our lives makes sense.  And out bodies have betrayed us.

We’ve had “The Talk” already!  Thank God!  Because now, at least, we know what we’re doing.

Sex-ed only feeds our curiosity.

We sit through class:  Embarrassed; Pretending to be; or Thinking we SHOULD be.  Secretly wishing they’d turn back to the page where they showed “it” and praising God the boys weren’t in the same room with us.  Half afraid of what they were saying about us in the next room.

Sitting there segregated in our individual classrooms, how could we know that there were other people out there…

Males with thoughts about our bodies.  Older men.  Thinking about doing things to our bodies we hadn’t even dreamed of.  Things “The Talk” never touched.  Things whose surface the talk never even skimmed.

The worst of it:  Some of the men having those thoughts were in our families.

Little 12-year-old girls wondering…(of the boys next door):  Why not?  If it’s supposed to be fun, what’s the harm?

Full grown men wondering the same thing…about us.

We sit clueless, in our room, ignorant of what’s being said to our male counterparts, all the while thinking, assuming, guessing…they’re getting the same talk we are.

But are they?  Were they?  Did they?  Have the talk at all?

What about those other men?  Did they have “The Talk” ever?

Or was their talk different?

Perhaps their talk was entitled:

101 Ways to Overpower, Manipulate, & Intimidate a Female so She’ll Let You into Her Pants.

Maybe it was more subtle:

Top 10 Things to Say to a Young Girl that You’d Like to Get to “Know” a Little Better.

Surely their metamorphosis from loving uncle, cousin, brother, father, grandfather into sex-crazed pedophile didn’t just happen overnight.

And yet, God forbid, these thoughts had been there the whole time, the men fighting them off like lion tamers with their whips and chairs.

Down boy!  Now’s not the time!  Get back!  Wait!  Not yet!

Then, suddenly, the lions get so hungry they grow weary of playing the lion tamer’s game and demand their reward for being so patient, so good, all this time.

Just one little piece.  Just one little look.  Just one touch.

What could it hurt?

After all, they’ve been so good this whole time!

Is it really so explainable as that?  Or is it simply male, animal instinct.  The urge to: procreate, dominate, populate, that drives them over the brink?  The voice of some primal Neanderthal inside, grunting out commands to the subconscious!

Do we, as pubescent little, naïve girls, play along unknowingly?  Or knowingly, but not realizing?

These men watch us playing our games of cat-n-mouse with the boys in our classes.  Boyfriend talk.  We kissed on the lips.  We held hands.  He walked me to class.

All our little courtship rituals we play until we are married.

Does that merely whet their appetite?  For just one taste.  Just one piece.  Of our forbidden fruit.

Nobody bothered to tell us about the men!  Why didn’t anyone tell us about them?  We’re told lots of things; given lots of warnings.

Just say no!  Don’t talk to strangers!  No sex until you’re married!

Nobody bothered to let us know that we needed to be suspicious of everyone!

There are certain people we are supposed to feel safe with, and certain people we are supposed to watch out for.

But nobody told us what to do when the people we are supposed to feel safe with suddenly become the people we have to watch out for.

Why do we have to find these things out in such a cruel way, at so awkward an age.

Everything’s screwed up, inside and out.  Breasts and bras.  Hair in places it never was before.  And like the woman in the New Testament, there’s this issue with blood (Yuck!).

And now the people we’ve spent our lives around are looking at us in ways we don’t understand or appreciate.

And some of them are even touching us!  (Even more yuck!)

The age we couldn’t wait for.  12.  Almost officially a teenager.  Supposedly the best time of our lives (despite the confusion)

And then this!

Men unable or unwilling to control themselves any longer.  Men we are supposed to trust, suddenly take on the sinister look of the stranger in the alley, the one offering us candy or a ride home.

Men we were supposed to trust are now men we USED to trust.

What now?  Who do we tell?  How do we tell?

How are we supposed to explain that Grandpa, Uncle, Daddy has touched us?                  Down there!  Or worse!?

What if they don’t, won’t, can’t believe us?

What if, somehow, this was our fault?  Good God…is it possible?

NO!  Absolutely not!

BUT…what if…maybe?!

So, we walk around…days…weeks…months…years…Never telling!

Nobody would ever believe it.  No way!  Not a chance!

Maybe they told us this.  Maybe they didn’t.  We believe it either way.

And we know that surely there must be something wrong with us!

There’s no way this has happened to anyone else.  How could anyone possibly understand if it hasn’t happened to them?!!!

So many people to hide from, to lie to, to keep secrets from…

…but if we don’t tell, we’ll burst, or die, or rot away from so much poison coursing through out systems.

Little bits and pieces of our souls, decaying, decomposing, from hate, alienation, and bitterness growing in our hearts…

…affecting everything.

Our dress.

Our attitudes.

Our self-esteem.

Beating us down from the inside out – till there’s nothing left – but a battered, bruised, and hemorrhaging.

 

and sadly, we are still only 12.

(06/24/2002)

Devotional-inspired Artwork: 01/03/2018