There were thirteen candles in our house this week. Officially a teenager in the house. A milestone duly celebrated with even more teenagers for a teenage sleepover!!
All whilst I’ve pledged not to touch a drop of alcohol for Dry July! Luckily for me, a compassionate mother has sponsored me a “Golden Pass” so I can commiserate the upcoming teenage years with a well-deserved glass of red wine.
So what are we in store for?
The metaphor of conquering Everest in the wrong shoes springs to mind [Rachel Halliwell on the terrible teens]
Like her two-year-old self, she is prone to tantrums because she cannot find the “right” shoes or the pants she wants to wear are in the wash (absolutely my fault, washing should be a same-day-service, oh, and I should be a mind reader and ensure that whatever has been dumped on the bathroom floor appears clean on the day she wants it!).
Or she may decide that what was her favourite food last week, is now not worthy of sitting on her plate (so gets pushed to the side with a shove and a grunt of discontent) – let alone in her mouth! In fact, she ate better when she was two. Any “mother-daughter” talks about eating a good, balanced diet with plenty of iron and protein and a variety of fruit and vegetables – goes out the window when said 13 year old has decided the only meat she will eat is mince, and no she won’t touch vegetarian alternatives that pack a punch of goodness.
Put a two-year-old tantrum on steroids, add in an extremely bright 13-year-old, and a few drops of venom – and you have a true teenage meltdown
In true two-year-old style, she is prone to “losing it”. Unlike her two-year-old self – “losing it” no longer requires her to throw herself on the floor, hands hammering at the carpet, tears and screams. “Losing it” now involves taking her frustrations out on those around her – primarily myself and her younger sister.
Unlike her two-year-old self – her now long and lanky limbs pack a lot more of a punch – particularly when a foot lands in her sister’s stomach. “Losing it” now involves door slammings (read – our retro sliding doors lasted 50 years before our now 13-year-old has all but destroyed them), tears and shouting.
My 13-year-old can now use her words to hurt people. Once again – usually myself and her little sister. Girls know which buttons to press, or more accurately – which maternal weaknesses to exploit.
She hates me. I can’t say I’m overly fond of her at these points in time either.
Unlike her two-year-old self – my 13-year-old has decided that if she says NO (sorry, I mean when she says no, which includes around 95% of our conversations with her) – she means NO. NO I will not put on warm clothes. NO I will not go to swimming. I will NOT be nice to my babysitter – in fact, if I am completely horrid, to the point where I send my babysitter home shaking – perhaps Mummy will go through with her threat to give up work. But NO, I won’t be accepting that then we will have no money and don’t even think I would EVER make a compromise.
So life with a 13-year old?
Well, it’s like walking on egg-shells.
Mother-daughter dates and girls only shopping trips? Getting our hair done? Giving each other a manicure while gossiping about the latest app or discussing the development of characters in her latest book (which I may also read so I can have such discussion)?
Any other pipe dream one may have had when making one’s newborn baby girl up like a (beautiful) doll and trotting her around proudly?
Out the window sorry.
The advice from family?
Well, Miss T was the first grandchild on my side, so nothing helpful there. Asking my mother wouldn’t help – I may have had my own argumentative streak, and my sister simply by-passed that stage and resorted to climbing out the window and doing whatever she liked.
Hubby’s sister has had three teenage daughters before us, her advice – be the rock. Let the waves wash over you, stay still, be there for her, be her rock.
So that is us for the next few years – be a rock. Miss T will make demands. We will either accept them, or we won’t. We will continue to make decisions we think are in her best interests – she is still a child and her brain isn’t fully developed. She will hurl abuse at us. And we will be a rock. We will try to ignore it.
I stop short of accepting this for her little sister – said foot in the stomach or any form of verbal abuse earns Miss T some time outside until she decides she is going to treat her family with respect.
Getting my little girl back – coping mechanisms and the path of least resistance
So, as I learnt in Antenatal Class, if one’s child is getting to you, leave said child in their cot (now room), and walk away. I am finding myself utilising this “walk away” tactic frequently.
I’m not beneath “buying” some quality time with her. This is not how an “idealistic” parent parents. But, screw idealistic. That went out the window with the toddler years.
Sometimes I need to find my daughter. The beautiful, super intelligent, out-doorsy, competitive, caring, little girl that I know is in there.
Mother-daughter date, chai late (Miss T), cappuccino (me) and cupcakes coming right up. If she is doing what she wants to do – she is happy, I get to see a smile! So yes, I’m prepared to sell out to get through these teenage years! I’ll pick my battles…
I will fail sometimes – and that is OK.
As long as my little girl comes back to me, a smile on her face, and gives me a cuddle (even if she has to bend down to me now!). As long as I have these moments (even if I have to “buy” them), I can be a rock. I just need a little fuel sometimes to keep going…. because that pounding surf can be relentless!