By Stephen Gosewich
My 13 year-old daughter is in teenage-mode..big time! Physically she is blossoming into a stunning, elegant young woman. Her long curly brown hair she gets from her gorgeous mom, her height and brown eyes she gets from me.
I don't know where she gets her unbelievable mood swings from.
I once asked my wife after a recent Jekyll and Hyde experience, how long we, as her parents, would have to endure these sudden bursts of out and out “bitchiness” and she said, until she is about 18.
5 YEARS?? 5 YEARS!!
How the hell am I supposed to deal with this until I am 50 years old? I will be too mentally tired and burned out to deal with her by that point (and she has a younger sister!!) But maybe that is her strategy. Maybe she will continue to wear us down until we are so tired that we just throw in the towel and call it quits. You win, Molly…we give up.
No. Not going to happen. In recent months, as she has begun to flex her “independence” muscles, I realize that she is truly only 13. Fortunately, or unfortunately (depending on how you look at it), she still very much needs and relies on my wife and I for a multitude of things.
The aggravation and frustration we have experienced so far does not include requests for belly-button piercings or tattoos (phew!) Instead, it is seen in her inability to plan, to prepare and to research..stemming from blatant laziness. Case in point: she wanted to recently attend a friend's dance recital. She was going to go with a bunch of her friends. Not only did she drop this on my wife and I at the eleventh hour, she did so right after the end of school the day of the event…plus…she wanted to have a sleepover. When we asked her if she had packed anything for her sleepover, she said no. When we asked her if she knew where the dance recital took place, she said she didn't know. When we asked her if she had any money for bus fare or to get something to eat, she said no.
Aren't these the kinds of things that a 13 year-old girl who is trying to be more independent should be planning for on her own? Or…is this typical of a 13 year-old girl and we are expecting too much from her? Should we not be sweating the small stuff?
Maybe…but when she tells me that I am overprotective because I text all the time to know her whereabouts, I draw the line (by the way, I don't text that often…a bit of an exaggeration). We live in a world filled with beautiful and amazing things but peppered with mean and sick people. Yes, I will continue to text her and insist I know her whereabouts…but that has nothing to do with not trusting her or questioning her judgement.
She continues to place her trust in her friends…assuming that they know what to do. Many of these girls have older siblings who have shown them the ropes, so they are more “street-smart” than Molly (and attitudinal, to boot!)
She also sometimes distances herself from us and her extended family. It is uncool to hang with her Mom and Dad unless she knows that it will involve buying something for her or unless as a last resort. When we make plans with our extended family, Molly would prefer not to go because its boring…or just bangs-out text messages or reads magazines.
We have held firm on this issue and remind her that friends will come and go throughout her life, but family will always be there. Yet, it is family that usually suffers the wrath of her mood swings because she knows that we will always be there for her, no matter how morose she is.
My wife and I know that this period is just that; a frustrating period of time that will be filled with raised voices and slammed doors. We also know that it will continue to be filled with our complete love, support and commitment to our daughter.
We remind ourselves that our daughter is a good-egg…goofy, loving, funny, intelligent and our first born. We have laid a very strong foundation and know that just like every other challenge in life, this too, shall pass.
Stephen Gosewich is still working on becoming an enlightened male (as are we all). In the meantime, he spends his weekdays as a commercial real estate professional, and all other times with his wonderfully supportive wife and two very active and inspiring daughters. He lives in Toronto and enjoys family time, pop culture, spinning up a storm and perfecting his downward dog. www.theenlightenedmale.wordpress.com