Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Paradoxical Egg

Teenage girls are like raw eggs. During these years, on the surface, they appear simple, sturdy, uncomplicated. And when handled just so they are actually unyielding. Yet a mother's mere words can change the physics of that egg altogether... It seems, no matter how good the intention, that a comment, a glance, a response to a solicited question can cause that egg to shatter...and explode all over you.

There's a love/hate relationship with teenage girls. I know. I have one. And I was one once. And fortunately (or not,) the mantras I recited, "I'll never forget what this moment feels like," and "I'll never treat my kids this way," actually come into play on a weekly basis.

Because I do remember. The rawness of every emotion. The need for acceptance, despite your own denial. To fit in. But not. To rotate the wardrobe so you don't repeat too often. To be true to yourself and your morals, but say something off-color when adults aren't around. To stand out. To blend in. To be okay not excelling in something. To feel like a loser because you don't. To crave acceptance from your mother. To reject everything she has to say because you believe she obviously hates you.

But what I didn't realize at that age was the cache of wisdom that comes from being a former teenager/now an adult Mom. Many of the feelings you experience as a teenage girl are just that...feelings. As a teenager, you don't realize that feelings are not something that should rule your every decision. They are not something that you base your worth in the here and now.

Quite honestly, if I were to run my life on the sole basis of my feelings, I'd jump in my car this very instant and set off alone to find a place that had fantastical corned beef hash and eggs benedict, served to me by a tanned, handsome young man as I lay prone in the glow of the tropical sun.

It's what I really want. BADLY!!!!

But part of parenting a teenage girl is finding that balance. Between honesty and platitude. Saving my child from impending embarrassment versus letting her learn from experience. Between the mean streets of reality and the innocence of youthfulness.

There are so many examples of this that I could post and post and post and...well, that's not the point of this entry...

The point is, well, as a mom of a teenage girl, I'm struggling with when to say something and what to say...

What IS the proper response to, "Does this look okay together?"

I ascribe to the belief that if you don't want to know the truth, then don't ask the question. However, now having a teenage daughter, I realize for self-preservation purposes, there is a caveat: tread cautiously when talking with a teenage girl; even though she would be the first to tell you exactly what she's really thinking...

I swear, if this country would like to protect itself from terrorist attacks, then we should replace all TSA employees and with teenage girls, because here would be the dialogue:

Teenage Girl: "Since arriving at the airport, has anyone handled your luggage without your knowledge?"

Traveler: "No."

Teenage Girl: "OHMIGOSH! All I asked was if anyone handled your luggage without your knowledge! I so don't believe you, 'cuz you just totally sighed when you said 'No.' I can't believe anything you say now! 'SECURITY!'... you're outta here, so just deal with it!"

This would be followed by a dramatic door slam, if those metal-detecting thresholds had doors.

Thankfully, my daughter doesn't say "so," "totally," or "like," but the attitude can be there more times than I care admit.

So what do I do with these instances? Which daughter I get at any given moment is like parental roulette... and I'm not a gamblin' lady!

Teenage girls... they are so paradoxical... they are the most exhilarating, amusing, insightful, lovable, let-your-hair-down people with whom you could ever hope to spend your time. Yet, they are also the most infuriating, emotional, frustrating, trying, heartbreaking souls on earth.

So how do you parent a teenage girl without shattering her into a thousand pieces?

I'll let you know in five years...

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