There are a number of things I am qualified to do.  I can teach someone to knit.  I can learn you some quilting, put fabrics together.  Cakes or cookies, I’m your girl.  Mail merge from Word to Excel, some Timberline accounting, done.  Camping reservations carefully plotted 9 months in advance, check.

When my first kid was born, I felt fairly confident that I could handle it.  I am the oldest of 4, and the youngest was born when I was 12, so I had a chunk of experience with babies.  Even after the Boy Child came along and we had to adjust to 2 little ones, we had it covered.

Those kids are now 13 and 10.  And I am here to tell you, that confidence is out the window. I am wholly unqualified for this teenage business.  I came home tonight to a fairly promising start.  Answered a survey question for the Girl Child‘s class.  And then it all went to hell.  I am “a jerk”, because I refused to buy her a new lunchbox to replace the one she let mold grow in due to lack of cleaning.  I “always buy” what her brother wants.  So I snatched her phone and iTouch, the things most precious to her.

Was that the appropriate response? Hell if I know. I DO know that I NEVER would have called my mom a jerk. I don’t call the Girl a jerk, so why does she think it’s ok?  She will mostly likely apologize later, but it’s getting old telling her that while I appreciate the apology, it doesn’t make it all right to do it in the first place.

My theory currently is that she does that here because it’s safe.  I know there is drama at school, where it’s probably even more unwise to call someone a jerk.  Yes, it irritates me to no end and sucks the life right out of me, but she knows she is still loved.

So I just wait this phase out?  Will it get better or worse? Am I teaching her that it’s OK to call someone a jerk? That as long as you apologize it’s OK? Is there a pill for this?

All I can do is take a deep breath and know the next five years will most likely be long ones.  In the meantime, I’ve got some camping gear to clean.


5 responses to “unqualified”

  1. This is the part where you can be a parent or a friend. If you want the kids to behave, I suggest you be a parent. They aren’t gonna like you at times for awhile. It’s painful but part of the process. As to your response apologies get you back on the road to redemption and should be required. However, zero tolerance should be applied to back talk to the parents if you want to continue to be an authority figure. I loathed my parents from 15 until about 20. Now they are some of my best drinking buddies. You can become friends with them when they have learned some responsibility (Like in their mid twenties). Anyway, that’s I take from my own experiences. Just remember your kids still love you deep down and we still like you too.

  2. My parents pretty much had a reign of terror going, which is why there was no sass, refusal of food, or whatever. Cause we got smacked, yelled at, insulted. Maybe that’s what it takes to ensure no backtalk? Not really an option in our age, thank god. I do think E. is sassing you because she does feel safe, so that you get to hear what she can’t yell at friends, teachers, quotidian tormenters. As much as it sucks for you now, it sucks even more being a 13 year old girl. All that angst about school, looks, boys, friends. And moldy lunchboxes. That mofo (if it’s fabric) can just go in the washing machine.

  3. I think Barbara’s got it right. It’s a perverse sign of trust that she can call you names and know you’ll not stop loving her. She knows your love is unconditional, and that’s what she needs.
    We got some good advice when our kids reached this age: little kids are dogs, teenagers are cats. Little kids run up to you, jump on you, want to play, want to love you. Teenagers may or may not come up when you get home. If you chase after them, they’ll run away, perhaps stopping to claw or hiss before they retreat. They’ll take food from you, and a place to sleep, without a word. But if you sit quietly, sometimes they’ll come and sit by you and let you scratch behind their ears, they might even purr for a moment. The hardest thing is to realize that your dog has become a cat.
    I think Jeff and you are great parents. And unfortunately, yes! this may get worse. Wait it out, though, and the delights of late teenage years and early adulthood are well worth the effort.

    • Thanks, Tom. I’ll just keep drinking til then. And leave kitty treats here and there. Of course, Jack will probably find them first.

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