Monday, February 27, 2017

the complicated goings on of having a teenage daughter

I've been a mom for 14 years now. At this point, I'm pretty good at it. CASE IN POINT.

I get a call from day care. My littlest, River, age 4, has puked. I get over there. He's sitting on a child size bench. Little tissues clutched in puffy hands, sniffing and looking sad. I'm wrapping up his puke stained clothes and hear it. The sound of more puke coming up. I grab a near by garbage bin and he explodes streams of reds and blues. I say, "Good job throwing up!" This encouragement is needed. He's scared because when you are four and berry vomit is coming out of your mouth--this is not a normal event. So I normalize and praise. NOT horking down berries until you puke is a lesson we'll  save for later. The puking stops. I GET NONE OF IT ON ME OR MY GIGANTIC, FLUFFY WHITE SCARF. Which is around my neck and touching the garbage bin. I'm just that good! 

Bodily fluids are easy. Short people are easy. You are bigger then them. You can often correct things with a time out or a taken toy. My daughter is not short anymore. Argues like her mother as well. You can't really give the 'mommy stink eye' when you are at eye level with your child. Houston, we have a problem here.

It's easy to see her as older than she is. When your child uses big words and talks big ideas you can forget how old they really are. It's amazing how she feels completely right about her own reality. There is so much true in such a life, but very little lived wisdom. And that's where it gets complicated.

I'm a believer in listening to kids and trusting them. Fourteen doesn't mean she's to be automatically discounted. Plus, she's older than her two brothers. It's nice having a deep discussions with another, almost woman, in the house. I can totally see us being friends when she is full grown. 

But for now, the world is largely abstract and she doesn't really care for rules. Which is why she was late for school 10 times last semester. This was not corrected by me cajoling, threatening, yelling or punishing. It took a 'truancy' hearing with the vice principle and the school cop to get her attention. Her age is the age of self centeredness I guess. Reality is like the landscape outside a moving car on the highway. Vague and sometimes pretty to notice if you happen to look that way.

We spoil our children. I know. We do. And I made the mistake of trying to reason and talk to her like a full grown up. All ten times before the truancy hearing.

So when homework was marked late for the 6th week in a row, I switched tactics. I took her phone and she cried and begged. So now, she has the power to earn the phone back with diligent doage of chores and on time homework. So far, much improvement has been noted.

Maybe it's not so complicated after all? 

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