Raising teen: still waving not quite drowning

My darling middle child has always had a way with words.

She’s almost 16 now. She’s worldly, she’s seen ‘stuff’ (so she tells me), she has a boyfriend (with whom time is carefully rationed during the mother’s watch) and she’s pretty sure she knows how most things work (except the washing machine which she has an on again – off again type of relationship with).

So with this worldliness in hand she feels it’s the right time to take a step back and issue a few home truths – tell the world (and the mother) what she thinks and feels and what can be done to remedy the resulting injustices.

This process has been tiring to say the least. It’s now a commonly known fact that I’m a mean, judgemental cow who lacks the mental flexibility to think beyond my own little pea brained existence.

That’s of course IF I notice anything in the first place because all I care about is work (she finds a sore spot and strikes with precision). Teens can be great at that.

And we all know I don’t trust her (apparently).

However, these opinions also spill into some kind of useful realms…

Just last night we sat down to watch a movie together. A lovely mummy – pre-adult daughter experience right? WRONG !!

Apparently, she’s seen this seemingly innocuous movie before (thanks for that Netflix);

“That one shows a man’s penis and a guy with firecrackers up his bum” she kindly lets me know. “Great” I think – great parenting and how did I not know that she was being exposed to this mind-bending smut.

When she told me “and then there’s the scene when he…” “Oh, don’t worry, I’ll fast forward” I realised that actually, she’s just been doing a community service to protect her poor, protected mother after all AND by the look on her face as she described it also ‘cringie’, apparently she’s been doing a fair bit of fast forwarding already.

This daughter and I share a love of language. During a recent supermarket visit she coined the term FLOCKETS.

The term came to life as she tried to reach into her pockets and realised the pockets weren’t actually real.

“fake pockets” she accused them

“FLOCKETS” she / we roared through the aisles in a faux drunken hysteria.

I experienced a similar hysteria last week when she became frustrated with my lack of positive responses and took to speaking to a brick wall in the house for a few minutes. Tween pointed out what was happening, I had just thought she felt like standing there.

I often wonder how I survived in the world prior to her generous tips on what I should be doing from getting dressed to applying makeup, how I smile, the way I use my voice to the tone of my voice when I greet someone on the street.

“You’re cringie” I’ve been told so many times that I just decided not to care anymore. THAT I’m told is also a service I should appreciate – how else would I improve my self-esteem?

Despite all of this potential awfulness I love the girl fiercely. I see her for her gentleness and need to keep everyone happy. I see her tenacity and that wild girl that lives just beneath the surface that roars into reality on a regular basis. I see her will to succeed and the raw talent that seeps from her skin. And I also see that somedays she just needs to be still, quiet – but she may not always remember that.

She reminds me sometimes of how passionate, right and in love with life I was at 18. I want to guide her to experience the following years in a way that serve her well. I try to impart the wisdom I’ve gathered that she doesn’t outwardly believe I possess and yet somehow notices every now and then with enormous frustration that I have my own moments of being right.

“Could we please have a nice conversation?” I asked her from across the kitchen bench, world-weary from several evenings of debate on topics I would not, could not budge on.

“There are a lot of strong women in our lives” I’m not so sure where I was going with that, perhaps some point about being lucky to know so many amazing and inspiring people.

“Well yeah, why do you think I turned out like I did?” She replied with pride.

Touche kid. I can’t argue with that one.

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