Saturday, June 25, 2016


Since I didn't have birthdays growing up as a Jehovah's Witness, I count my birthdays starting from when I left the cult. So I have just turned 11.

Every year I like to check in with the developmental milestones for my "age". Let's see how I measure up as an 11 year old.


Children are thinking in a more abstract way and can develop an understanding of hypothetical situations. Hypothetical, you say? Something like, what happens if you toss water balloons off the balcony of your friend's 20th floor apartment? Nothing good, I assure you. Nothing good.

Memory and attention capacity is increasing further but it is important to help develop their concentration and perseverance skills by giving the children the opportunities to dedicate themselves to single, focused activities without distraction. I've entered the wonderful world of database administration in the past year. My capacity to focus without distraction is reaching mastery level. Until Friday afternoon, when all bets are off. Then it's all about the Disney sing-along playlist.

Thought patterns are maturing as they reach puberty and many researchers believe there is a physical change in the brain that occurs and enables teens to start thinking more abstractly, carrying out complex reasoning. Well, I'm definitely on the other side of puberty. In fact, I'm on the exact opposite end of the hormone spectrum. I found out in recent months that I'm entering menopause early. Yay me. I suspect that this will bring about physical changes to my brain; hopefully ones that continue to enhance my complex reasoning skills. Always happy to see those upgraded.

Intangible concepts such as faith, love, trust, receipt, and questions about the meaning of life, the origins of the world, etc can be grappled with using more adult cognitive processes. Really? You mean if I hadn't been raised in a cult I may have developed these skills by age 11?! Wow. Colour me surprised and slightly jealous of 11 year-olds everywhere.

Personal, Social & Emotional

As children approach their teenage years adolescent egocentrism emerges. Enough about you. Let's talk about me.

They may become more self aware than they were previously and also conscious of how others perceive them, both as a person and on their appearance. This can also be triggered by physical bodily changes which are all new and alien. A positive attitude towards adulthood and these changes can make this process less daunting and more exciting for them. Being at the other end of the hormonal spectrum I am experiencing many of these same feelings of self-awareness. I'm suddenly aware of how difficult it is to lose weight as my metabolism slows with age. (Where did these extra 10 lbs come from?!) I find myself googling how to get rid of chicken wing arms and repeatedly asking myself if it's time to stop colouring my hair. 

I'm too sexy for this cutting board.

But hey, I got my first pair of reading glasses this year. And I think I'm rockin' this look.

I am gaining a positive attitude though towards aging. There is a wisdom that comes with age that is exciting and freeing. I just wish it had come earlier in my life. Youth really is wasted on the young.

Worries about starting a new secondary school can start to be evident at this age as friends start to discuss the different options between them. I may not be starting a new secondary school but I am learning to be more confident in my opinion, even when it varies radically from that of those close to me.

Friendships will be kept through sharing the same interests and extra curricular activities. My friendships are wide and varied. While most of us have a common love for board games (Bohnanza, anyone?), it is our common views on life and kindness that unite us. A love for the same music, sports or tv shows can be enough of a bonding factor when you're 11, but age proves that more is needed to sustain long friendships.

"To bean or not to bean!" Hasn't that always been the question?

Physical & Motor

An 11-12 year old child will be embarking on a period of physical growth and change as he/she starts the first stages of puberty. It is a time of exciting transition but also of rapid and sometimes confusing change for both child and parent. Helping children to understand what is happening and what is going to happen to their bodies is important to help keep them confident and reassured. Again, it's menopause for me, not puberty, although much of the same stuff applies. It is indeed 'a time of exciting transition but also of rapid and sometimes confusing change'.

When my doctor first told me that I was heading into menopause early, his concern was whether I felt a sense of loss because having a child would no longer be an option for me. My response was two-fold: 1. I've never pegged my sense of identity as a woman to physically producing a child; 2. I'd already come to terms with the reality that I likely wouldn't be having a child of my own. I'd also decided that if I did want to mother one day I could adopt or channel that into work with children or some other venture that would allow me to exercise my nurturing capacity.

I honestly have only felt like I was emotionally capable of being a good mother in the past couple of years. It took me so long to heal and reprogram after leaving the cult that I couldn't justify bringing a child into the world amidst the chaos I was still experiencing internally. And by the time I felt emotionally ready to have a child, I had not found the right co-parent. And now, it's not even an option. As with many things in my life, my timing has been off.

Sport and physical activity can play a great role in this age group. Help them to keep their changing bodies healthy through exercise and sport. Try and get involved with the sports too, this will help to maintain a healthy relationship between the child and primary carer. Physical activity has never been my friend. Having had Fibromyalgia since the age of 11, it's a constant exertion of will to force myself to move knowing how painful it will be in the days after. Even 30 years later, it's not gotten any easier.

I am holding on to some hope though. I developed Fibromyalgia at age 11, just as I was entering puberty. There is some anecdotal evidence that hormones play a factor in Fibro and many women experience a lessening of their symptoms after menopause. So, fingers crossed, everyone. Maybe more pain-free days lie ahead.

Speech, Language & Communication

Children’s conversational skills should be developing well and they will be able to cope when adults or peers strike up a conversation. They may be expressing their personal opinions in conversations too. I'm not a fan of small talk and prefer to jump right into discussing the deeper things of life. But I can just as easily discuss television shows (Can you believe how good Game of Thrones is this season?!) as the nature of consciousness.

Reading, writing and general conversing will all help them to gain the confidence and dialogue needed to hold longer conversations or debates that they will be starting to face and that will be expected of them when they start secondary education. I was on a debate team in High School. I sucked at it. Mostly because I could only see the point of view I was arguing for, my own. It's difficult to debate when you can't relate to how the other side thinks. 

Being raised with black and white thinking was ripe ground for seeing the world in such a one-sided way. I have worked tremendously hard over the past 11 years to be able to see situations from many different angles and judge them based on the unique factors, people, ethics and emotions involved. It's a hell of a lot more work than just having one very definite, black and white, rigid view.

That said, I would still suck on a debate team. I have neither the patience nor the emotional stamina needed to engage in conversations that involve me attempting to persuade someone else to a particular point of view. I think all those years as a JW preaching from door-to-door have left me with a sort of debate fatigue. But I do admire those who can do it. Anthony Magnabosco, you're my hero. 


The artistic development will be more focused on the design element. Design and technology will be challenging for them but they will particularly enjoy inventing new products or technology.

Drawings will be far more detailed, shading more advanced, ideas more interesting and measurements are more accurate and in realistic proportions.

All I have to say here is that I need to start painting again. 
So, there you have it. I'm 11 going on 42. I look forward to a year of change, growth and an increasingly new perspective on this old life.

tall penguin