Posts Tagged ‘teenagers

01
Oct
08

Careful what you say …

When my Girl from the West was a babe in arms, I cooed a promise into one of her little pink ears:
“Mommy wants you to grow up to be whoever you want to be. I won’t be one of those mean mommies who forces her daughter to vote Republican or chastises her for not choosing the convent as a career choice.”

If my baby grew up to be a bald, lesbian shot putter, that would be OK. If she aspired to be a minimalist performance artist who wore nothing but sticks and grass and chose to live in a refrigerator box in the town square, great.
It’s not that I want her to grow into someone whose lifestyle puts her at risk for ridicule and persecution. But I told myself I’d let the blossom unfold as nature intended. No making a righty out of a lefty or anything.

However, life doesn’t always play out that way, does it?

Say your babe in arms edges closer to adulthood and suddenly begins taking on all of the characteristics you abhor? Say you are an atheist and she decides to become a Born-Again Christian. Say you are vegetarian and she decides to take up bow hunting? Say you are artsy and edgy and she prefers to try out for the cheer squad?

Get the drift here?

I see my baby spinning out of my orbit so fast I’m not sure I got the flight plan before she launched.

I can’t help but recall my teen years. What hopes did my parents have for me? What was the sound of those dreams as they collided with the reality of who I was becoming? I know one of the biggest collisions had to do with my continued failure to subscribe to their religion. To this day, almost 30 years after leaving their church, I still get subliminal messages that they are not pleased, thank you very much.

Thankfully I have a number of friends who’ve traveled this bumpy road of parenthood. Their advice to me is to stop asking so many questions already! I’ll get more answers if I listen.

So this is my challenge of late: I must cross the razor’s edge. I must keep some distance, lead by example, have eyes in the back of my head and keep my flippin’ mouth shut — most of the time.

15
Aug
08

Bye-bye, baby

When I dragged my carcass down the steps this morning (late night, friends, concert, etc.) I found four large white trash bags stuffed to the seams lined up in the front hallway.
To what do I owe this unsolicited gift? Christmas in August? One of the kids ran away but oops, forgot some of their stuff? Someone felt guilty and made up for all the forgotten birthdays?
Nah. Girl from the West decided since she’s starting high school in a few weeks that it’s time to remove ALL TRACES OF CHILDHOOD CHILDISHNESS from her bedroom. All of it. I’m envisioning something that took all of two minutes to complete.
Pull drawer out of dresser.
Turn drawer upside down over trash can.
Wait as flotsam and jetsam topple, pour and plummet to their death.
Upright freshly empty drawer.
Replace.
All performed, no doubt, while texting three friends on her cell phone. All performed without a shred of nostalgia or remorse.
And why, do you ask, did Girl from the West not just deposit the trash bags in the trash receptacles in the garage? Good question, Internets.
Here’s the thing: There’s a track record here and it’s not good. There’s a history of finding things in the trash that shouldn’t have been tossed. Like entire packages of computer paper. Like brand-new clothes. And gifts.
So, Girl from the West knows better. She bags it up and I sort it out.
I begin unpacking and sorting contents into various piles.
Several times during this process, I stand up and stomp into her room.
“What the hell?” I shout, waving brand-new notebooks, bundles of pencils and pens and new books. Also, there are travel-size containers (full, never used) of shampoo, hand lotion and cotton swabs and jewelry.
“Mother,” I’m informed with cool distain, “I don’t want them. Chill out.”
“Chill out? I’ll tell you what I’ll chill out. The amount of money I spend on you,” I shout back. I’m losing it here now, because I know within a week or two will come the barrage of requests.
“I need new pens and pencils and notebooks and Q-tips and travel-size shampoo.”
But she won’t want what she threw out because the pens and pencils have flowers and smiley faces on them; the notebooks will be the wrong color or be “too sparkly”; and the shampoo and Q-tips will be the wrong brand for a high-school student.
I know it. I hate it. But it’s her and I have to deal.
I end up so worked up I have to take a brisk walk. Along the way I dissect the issue.
What is really bothering me?
Is it that she’s wasteful and doesn’t understand the value of things?
Yes. But there’s more.
How can she be so callous, throwing away jewelry and other items that were gifts? It’s not that I don’t understand her feelings about some things, but holy catfish, have a little discretion.
Then it hits me. (This is where you can imagine the sound of tires squealing on the pavement and me coming to a screeching halt in a wake of smoke and flames.)
I don’t want her to grow up.
All those bags of Junie B. Jones books remind me of the nights we don’t sit up reading before her bedtime anymore. All the little craft kits, the framed kitty-cat pictures, the bead sets, are all things we shopped for together, worked on during summer breaks. Haven’t done that in a few summers. The sparkly notebooks, the smiley faced pens? No big deal to me. But to a high school freshman, probably the kiss of death.
While I’ll forgive her for growing up, it may take more work coaxing my wallet to open up.