Growth and change are an integral part of adolescence. Studies on the brain during the last decade show that it -- along with height, weight and hormones --goes through dramatic changes during the middle school years. While outward changes are easy to see, brain development goes much deeper, but it can go far in explaining how and why your child does what he does.According to the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH), there is a surge of production of the brain’s gray matter prior to puberty. Before this finding in 1999, it was thought that the brain overproduced gray matter only until about 18 months of age -- after which there was a steady decline as unused brain cells were discarded. We now know that the area of brain growth during adolescence centers on the frontal lobe. This is the control center for “executive functions” such as planning, impulse control and reasoning.
A few weeks ago, after I heard that, I mentioned it to Spell Girl. I told her this is the time she should try everything, because the stuff she fills that sponge with during these years is more likely to stick with her through adulthood. Well, she's totally taken that suggestion to heart. (She's not a typical teenager.)
This year, she has decided to try everything she's ever thought of trying in her whole life. The most recent of those things is the Cross Country team. They practice for two hours everyday after school. And everyday when I pick her up, she is so excited. Not just excited about running...excited about LIFE! She said yesterday, "Mommy, I feel so great when I run. It's like I feel energized or something!"
She had her first meet today at Celebration Park. All the local middle schools in the area were there and they competed by age group. The 7th grade girls ran right after the 7th grade boys and right before the torrential downpour! It was so much fun to watch her run. She was steady and consistent and finished right in the middle of the group. When she finished she was so proud of herself for sticking with a steady pace the whole way and not walking at all. She said, "Mommy, I was yelling at the boys during their race, to KEEP GOING! I thought I would be a hypocrite if I didn't take my own advice." She also has a cute friend who she wanted to push a little. They both ran the whole thing!
I'm so glad her little spongy brain is absorbing so much great stuff right now! I LOVE middle school!