It’s not all rainbows.

IMG_9960 (1024x683)This past Friday night found me home alone, as my family had taken off for different sides of the state with one in Williamsburg and the other in Lynchburg for their various activities.  What did I do with my glorious alone time?  Why I scrubbed out both showers, removing the shower heads to be soaked in vinegar, caught up on some netflix and had pop corn and ice cream for dinner.  Of course. Isn’t that what every forty-something wife and mother does when they get alone time?

I admit, I had a small flicker of worry Friday evening, when I really thought about how my thirteen year old was staying in a hotel with who knows what adult as a chaperone for the South Central West Junior Regional Orchestra festival down in Lynchburg.  It was the second such trip she took last week without me (having gone to Harrisonburg to participate in the National History Day contest) and both times, she indicated she was not interested in me chaperoning.

I suppose part of me should feel offended at this, although the part of me that stepped down from PTO and running the Girl Scout Troop this year,  feels like it’s definitely time for other parents to step up.  I’ve gone on every field trip since kindergarten, had a hand in every school (and classroom!!) event up until this year.  Frankly, it feels nice to not be in charge.  I think Edie was ready for it too.

I remember hearing the toddler years were a preview of the teen years.  Now that I have an official teen, I definitely see the similarities – the mood swings, the push for independence and a definite opinion about clothes- both hers and mine.  With toddlers though, parents are still very much in charge and still very much openly adored by their children.  The teen years is when they start to figure out that you’re not actually superhuman, but oh, so very human.

Edie started prepping us for these days back when she was a toddler.  The first time she rolled her eyes at what I was wearing and told me to go change, that she did not want to be seen with me dressed like that,  was just after her second birthday.  She was three the first time she refused to acknowledge us in public – we were at a party and she ditched us, pretending she didn’t know who we were.  I finally walked up to her, where she was chatting with someone, when she sneared “Mother, I’m having a conversation”.  Okay then.

(Yes, she really spoke like that at three.)

But toddler independence, where you are allowed to watch her from across the room and teenage independence, where you wave her off to go an hour away on a schoolbus without you for two days are two entirely different things.  I’ve long said the main goal of parenting is to raise a child that can be a productive, responsible member of society, which means teaching them how to take care of themselves and how to be good to others.  It means learning to let go so they can spread their wings – and sometimes that process is just hard on a mama’s heart.  Of course, other times, teens are so exasperating that you want to push them out of the nest – my friend Nancy once said that we as parents actually need them to have that attitude towards us, because it helps us to want to let go.  Without it, we’d never want them to leave the house and she’s right.

We do have certain rules regarding respect around here though.  Edie might not always like us, but she has to treat us with respect.  And in turn, she gets to demand the same from us.  Out of that respect, I don’t air my beefs with her on the internet – I’m always slightly amazed by parents who do that.  Would our child’s peers do this, it could be called cyber-bullying, but parents do it without seemingly any recourse.  Several of Edie’s friends and schoolmates follow me on various forms of social media, so I am very careful of what I post, especially in regards to her.  I remember all too well how hard the teen years can be to navigate, but now thanks to social media, that drama doesn’t just get left at school – it’s twenty four seven in various formats of social media and technology.  She definitely doesn’t need her parents adding to that drama.

At the same time,  this technology can also be used for better communication with her.  When she was smaller, Edie would sometimes communicate with us via notes on whiteboards and chalkboards around the house.  When we’d open our mouths to speak, she’d point to the whiteboard, “Answer here only please”.  Entire conversations were had that way. The old whiteboards have given way to text messages, where it can be easier to talk about some difficult topics.  Or just send lots of goofy emoji’s back and forth.

I often get a little wistful thinking about the toddler years – I miss them in some ways, but in others, I like having a teenager.  She’s slightly more tactful at times about how she doesn’t like what I’m wearing, she can ride in the front seat on road trips, manning the music and the maps and she still holds up her end of the conversation wonderfully.  She definitely has those teen moments  that are inevitable, but I just take a deep breath and recall what my Granny used to always say, “it’s just a phase and this too shall pass.”

9 thoughts on “It’s not all rainbows.

  1. suzicate says:

    Wow, she said that at three? At least, she speaks her mind! I’d rather have honesty and communication any day than being left out in the cold.
    I love how you compare the toddler years to the teen ones because you are so point on.
    Raising boys is so different from raising girls though I imagine every child regardless of sex is quite unique. I must say I am enjoying the young adult phase…out of the house and suddenly you are intelligent enough they come to you for advice rather than us trying to force it upon them, ha!
    At any rate, that Edie is a gem…of I had a girl, she’s the mold I’d pick!

    • Becky says:

      She was very verbal, very early. Just yesterday she had to explain what the word ‘ecdysiast’ meant to me.
      I realized recently that similar to toddlers, when teens get quiet, you need to go see what they are up to. Both ages, quiet is not good. And after that, the similarities kept popping up.
      Thanks, I think she’s pretty great and working with her age group two afternoons a week, I do get to see how great she is.

  2. Patience says:

    I have found that teens are delightful. Yes, they’re moody and difficult and nothing is worse than waking up at 2:30 am and realizing your 18 year old daughter isn’t home yet, but they’re also SO damn funny, and fun to talk to. I think the sense of humor doesn’t really develop until adolescence. Young kid humor is all slapstick or bathroom. Older kids start to learn irony and sarcasm.

  3. melissawest says:

    That’s really good advice about keeping your beef private. I imagine your daughter is delightful. Mine is the same, funny and enjoyable, interesting and interested in life. That more than makes up for the occasional sass and attitude.

  4. Margo, Thrift at Home says:

    fascinating preview of the teen years for this mother of a 9-year-old! If her toddler years were a preview of teen years (which I have heard, yes), then I am hoping for strength, gentleness, and wisdom already. hoo boy.

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