When my youngest daughter left for the first day of school last month, I was riveted. She wore her new Aeropostale shirt and skinny jeans with her messenger bag and confidently walked up the street.
Where did my little girl go?
Some time over the summer she switched bodies with this coltish young lady who wouldn’t look out of place in an LL Bean catalogue. Not long ago, she was racing down the street as fast as her (shorter) legs could carry her, backpack flapping behind her.
I don’t remember a transition.
Of course she came home and immediately picked a fight with her older sister, and then I recognized her again.
I honestly don’t see a huge difference between the tween and the teen years. The moodiness, the frustration simmering below the surface just waiting for the right moment (or comment) to explode. This deja vu just leaves me feeling exhausted. I can see the next few years of daily turmoil looming.
I so do not want to deal with this again. So soon.
We finally got through the worst of it with her older sister and I really, really liked the reprieve. Of course, now I know a little better what I’m dealing with. Hopefully, I won’t need as much trial and error this time. I still have my parental arsenal of tools, though they may need to be polished up a bit.
The best tools in my arsenal? Communication and patience. They work together. Sadly, I’ve never been great at either, but I like to think I’m improving. (Probably by the time I’m 90 I’ll have it all figured out.)
Problem is, there’s this rule that kids don’t talk to their parents. But how are we supposed to help our kids grow up into decent, productive human beings if we are screeching at each other over every disagreement? Then, resentment settles in on both sides and neither wants to even look, much less speak, to the other. It’s a vicious circle.
That’s where patience kicks in. I’ve made it a personal challenge to see how long I can hold out and talk with the irrational kid standing in front of me who is trying like hell to push all my buttons. (I have a confession to make. The kid sometimes wins. *wince*)
I have to stop here and applaud my husband for good advice, backing me up, and acting as final enforcer when I can’t take it anymore. We make a great team.
Somewhere along the line, we must have done something right.
Our oldest daughter still has her witchy moments, but for the most part, she’s actually pleasant to have around. Sometimes it’s hard to listen to her go on and on over the finer points of the latest horror movie she’s watched or the stories of cattiness within her little group of friends (Ah, the joys of high school drama!). But she also talks about her plans for the future and things that worry or scare her and – here’s the cool part – she actually listens (mostly) to what we have to say.
So, I guess I grit my teeth and mentally prepare for the future onslaught of carnage coming from the diminutive figure of my youngest child.
Wish me luck.
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