I feel it beginning. Well, I've sort of been feeling it for a little while now. My daughter is entering the years I have been dreading. But NOW it's different because while I thought we might be in those years already (she's only 12 and it's just a wee bit earlier than I had planned) I was seriously disillusioned. That was only a small taste. Funny how that works. Mothers don't get hit all of a sudden with the teenage attitude thing. It's gradual, to a point, but then it suddenly DOES jump right up and smack you in the face out of nowhere. This is now my life and I'm already ready for it to be over and to have my little girl back again. Time to hunker down for a handful of years, I guess, and brave through it.
In a way, I feel sorry for her... (until, of course, she turns into this alien-like creature that I don't recognize.) But seriously, those hormones must be banging around all over the place inside her petite little self. It's like someone's in her brain messing with the little wires, playing tricks on us by crossing them this way and that, making my child a loving, sweet pleasure one minute, then BAM! a mother-loathing, self-absorbed lunatic the next. She can't help it. It's out of her hands, right? I wonder...
When it's so plain to see that this is what's she's going through, and as a woman I know what it's like to have your hormones go haywire, why is it not equally as plain to see how to handle it? If only I could float out of my body and hover over the situation at hand and deal with it as a spectator might. Simple to say, but I'm NOT a spectator, I'm a mother. Try as I might, it's profoundly difficult to remove all emotion and feeling from it. There must be a zillion books out there on the topic of parenting a pre-teen/teenager. And I'm sure the day will come soon enough where I, too, am stocking up. But for now I shall wallow. And share it with you.
On the other side of the coin, I welcome this challenge because it ironically has unearthed a whole new sense of humor in me (that helps me cope) while it has also broadened my horizons on various types of wines (that help me cope). When she starts to get really fired up and I feel myself starting to lose my cool, I dodge the button-pushing with the most ludicrous and maniacal thoughts I can manage at the precise moment of her antics.
Example: After 4 hours of dress shopping last night for the Father/Daughter Dance (which is going on right now) and today curling her hair (48 curls on the curling iron to be exact), doing her nails, making her and Dad a nice meal, ironing her dress pleats perfectly, making up a snack to bring for the refreshment table, and finally sitting down to stitch the straps on the aforementioned dress for a custom fit. . . take a breath . . . she stands before me and throws a classic hissy fit for being asked to kindly wash her food containers that have been fermenting in several different lunch boxes and bags all week.
Rather than blow my stack, which I feel like strongly doing, I switch gears. I smile a slow and devious smile mostly to myself for my own delicious pleasure because at that precise moment I am imagining my own scene in a Willy Wonka movie where the needle and thread I am currently using fly out of my hand unassisted and proceed to sew the lips of my darling daughter shut tight. Her eyes have grown as big as saucers as the magical needle does its job. And I am perched happily on my stool watching the whole thing with glee, while clapping my hands and bouncing a bit at the sight of it all.
"Mom, aren't you even listening to me?!" she says. Then I return. And I am fine...
Until it's time to take photos before they go out the door to the dance. She is brooding, impatient, and giving me the "you are so totally lame, Mom" look. I am hurt inside because I want this to be a special night for her. One to recollect when looking back in the scrapbook. Her last year in elementary school. Her last Father/Daughter dance. Dad backs me up with the photo session thankfully and the mission is accomplished. Perhaps the fact that I got my way with the picture-taking has unsettled her, because shortly thereafter she is at the door ready to walk out and when I go in for a kiss to wish her a wonderful evening, I get the pull-back and "Ugh, you smell like cheese, Mom!"
I want to cry. (Does she realize?)
But instead I walk away and think of the "Stinky Cheese Man", one of the most hilarious children's books I remember reading to her when she was little. I laughed through the whole thing and because Mommy was laughing, she was laughing. And now, all that's drumming through my head is: "Run, run, run as fast as you can, you can't catch me I'm the Stinky Cheese Mom."
I know I will never have my little one back. My toothless cutie who loved Clifford and thought that crayons were the greatest things ever. But I know that she will come back to me in a beautiful, wonderful way much like a butterfly. So I will tuck her into her cocoon for now and wait for that glorious day... with the help of humor and wine.