Friday, October 16, 2009
Who invented them, anyway?
It’s true-- I currently have a pair of the little rascals in the house at the moment. Josie-Earl is fourteen, and my baby, Eli, just turned thirteen a few days ago. Two teens. Whew!
I’ve done it before, you know. My oldest son is twenty-six, so the teenage ‘experience’ is not a new one for me. But just as the pain of labor and delivery disappears with a ‘poof’ the moment you hold that precious newborn…so did the agony of adolescence vanish once Guy left the nest. And while I’m an old hand at navigating upstream through a torrent of hormones, it doesn’t seem to be any easier, this time around. In fact, it’s doubly hard! Perhaps even triply!!!
Because, you see… one of them is a GIRL.
I was SURE that raising a girl would be a piece of cake. After all, I’m a girl! I was charming, helpful, respectful of my parents…a joy to raise! Just ask my folks! They’ll confirm it, I’m sure. Why, just recently I overheard Dad telling a friend that he’d always hoped I’d have a daughter that was JUST LIKE ME! What a sweet wish for a father to have for his precious middle child!
Alas, Josie has proven to be stubborn, willful, and much, much smarter than her mother is. I’d never realized just how stoopid I was until I saw myself reflected in a gorgeous pair of blue and rolling eyes. I’d also never realized that a human’s orbital muscles had such range of motion! Sometimes, I’m so exasperating and disgusting, that only a slender crescent of Josie’s iris is visible. Wow. To think I can do THAT!
Don’t get me wrong. My daughter is amazing. She’s beautiful, intelligent (especially in comparison to her pitiful excuse for a mother), and kind-hearted. Jose-Earl has empathy for the poor and downtrodden; whether a plant, an animal, or a human being.
Except for me.
When Jose and I interact, she employs a tone of voice that would be unrecognizable to the rest of the inhabitants of her world. It’s aggressive, and yet, it contains a distinct and melodious whine. It’s loud. Abrasive. Sometimes scornful. And occasionally, it’s even sarcastic.
I love it.
See…the world can be a tough place. Stuff can--and often DOES--happen to mow a person down, pummel them to bits, chew them up and spit them out. A person has to be tough to make it in life… or at least, to make it and to also THRIVE. And I want all three of my children to be happy and to flourish. That’s every mother’s utmost dream.
Without testing her boundaries, without pushing her limits and pulling her mother’s strings…without seeing what power lies at her disposal, my daughter would never be able to discover her independence. Never know that she is capable. More than capable! She HAS to try her mother’s patience. She has to stomp out her disagreement up and down the halls. She has to dissolve into tears at the slightest hint of ‘no’. Because perhaps--those tears hold the key. Perhaps that display of weakness is actually the greatest weapon in her arsenal. And she’ll never know unless she tests the (salty) waters!
Sometimes, I back down and give in to her requests--or even, to her demands. I choose my battles, and acquiesce when I feel the potential obstacles to her well-being are least dangerous. I concede, not because that’s the easiest route (for it IS! As God is my witness, it IS!), but because she NEEDS to win once in a while. She needs to know that she can succeed, sometimes, when she puts such a huge amount of passion and effort into something. It is also essential that she feels like I trust in her ability to make wise choices. I DON’T…because she is, after all, only fourteen. Fourteen-year-olds are idiots. It’s a fact of life. For every responsible decision she makes, she’ll make an irresponsible one. A foolish and rash one. The key, I believe, is to ACT like I trust her…while keeping an eagle eye on her at the same time. In case she needs me…to rescue her, to catch her, to haul her home and give her hell. That’s my job. Just like what she’s doing is hers.
As the years go by, I’ll grant her more privileges. I’ll let her get her way more often. She will show me, through the choices she makes, what areas she’s gotten a handle on, and where her weaknesses still lie. As she gains those small freedoms, her attitude will improve. She’ll realize (if I’ve done my job properly) that I don’t say ‘no’ to be mean, or to ruin her life, or to keep her from being as cool as her friends are. Those are all things I’ve been accused of, naturally…but my shoulders are broad. They have to be. I’m the mother of teens.
And I love it.
Yes, Josie’s hype and hyperbole will even out, and she will begin to see the world through adult eyes. She’ll realize that I had good reason to be strict about some things. She’ll understand that I made her life miserable and unbearable because I love her so darned much. She’ll eventually learn to appreciate me.
Some day, I might even be smart, again!
Yes, raising a teenage daughter is a challenge, but I welcome it. And… I hope Josie grows up to have one just like her!
The photo above was taken at The F.A.R.M. by Jocelia Caitlin Pease. "Evening Storm Rolling In".