Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Teenage kicks, oops I mean Monsters

AS an adult I have never been religious, or spiritual really, I suppose, well I know, there's more than an ample splash of the auld Catholic guilt in me than I'd like but from I was a child, I have always believed that one of the best mantras to have in life is 'do onto others and you would have others do onto you'. Also I suppose a couple of conversations I have had lately has led me to realise the real importance of 'honour thy father and mother'.

Harry Enfield’s Kevin

Right that's the religion over. But let's muse over that for a while, what does it mean? I can tell you that my Mum can push every button I have and I know from experience me hers.

But I know she would die for me, she told me often enough as a child. Joking aside, I do know that. And I would do the same for my daughter, no question.

Before any of you start on me with what comes next, I know I am lucky to have my daughter, I really do, but there are some good behaviours that I expect, though realising some of the things I have been told lately by other parents, I wonder how long my idyllic peace!!!!will last, such as it is.

I recently had a big fight with my daughter - afterwards we both knew it was one of those landmark moments which we will both remember forever and let's just say we both crossed lines.

I caught her out on a big lie, there's been too much of that lately but as I said in a previous post, at the moment and long may that continue (I feel like that phrase is becoming like an anti-curse), if I can't spot it immediately, which is generally-ish the norm, there are small alarm bells ringing other times to warn me to be on my guard.

So anyway, I pulled her up on it (the subject of which will be another post, in a while though as it's a toughie!) and she put the blame on others. But what she didn't expect was me to call her bluff, which is ridiculous because I have attempted to bring her up when she will stand up and be counted as it were, where she would face the consequences of her actions and well be courageous, no matter what so this bluff-calling shouldn't have been unexpected.

I think the message got diluted somewhere.

So as I said I called her bluff and she blocked me, literally. She fought me literally. She has never been so confrontational with me and I hated it, we both hated it and to be honest, I will not stand for it. Does that sound optimistic?

She never had a temper tantrum – not even during the terrible-twos (and I'm not exaggerating), she slept through regularly from she was seven-ish weeks old, she cut her first tooth at seven weeks too, she has always been a pleasure and delight to bring into company, she always had impeccable manners, she's smart, gorgeous and she's been a wee star, so is her teenagehood a payback now for all that?

Don't get me wrong; some of her good behaviours growing up have been down to our routine, my motherhood, how I was brought up and of course the kind of person she is.

But when did this teenage monster came and replaced my child?

Thanks to (great tshirt site)

Funny or what just as I type this two awful teenager daughters has come onto my telly screen in the background on BBC1's 'Teen Angels' programme, what a bloody nightmare, in the last 30 seconds, I heard shut up scream about 15 times. They had absolutely no respect for their mother who gives them just far too much. Spoilt and selfish brats who just scream and scream demands, horrors!

"I am just so, like, misunderstood!!!"

We would never have dreamt of that as a teenager, don't get me wrong, we were brats, but there was a certain level of respect demanded in our house and I have to say I agree with it.

Children are a wonderful gift from where ever but you know what, so are parents (ignoring those who don't deserve the name just for this particular post you understand).

There was the door slamming, rolled up eyes, breaking of curfews, I was bad but one brother was a complete pr*ck looking back, but I don't ever remember shouting or screaming 'shut up', 'fuck off' or worse, 'I hate you'. It just didn't happen.

Course there was that time my brother at the age of 14/15 was caught smoking AND drinking in a bar where our Mum would go to once in a while, oh the madness that day.

It was one of the few times when our parents were actually speaking and both of them were speaking (ha) to the brother when he stormed off up the stairs with the retort of 'f*ck off', a big no no in our house.

He thought because my Dad's leg was broken and in plaster paris up to his hip at the time that he wouldn't follow him up the stairs, Jaysus what a bad decision.

I can laugh heartily about it now and I mean heartily, I even do a mean impression of it, but at the time, the tip of my Dad's nose went white as he lifted the good leg up one stair then followed by dragging the other one after, rather like that old black and white movie, The Mummy.

When my brother saw this he went the whitest shade I have ever seen before hightailing it out the first floor bedroom window, jumping onto the coalshed, jumping off that, running off down the street before hiding in the local priests house. (plonker and drama queen that he is)

In complete fairness to my daughter, (though she's only 13 and hopefully it'll never come, oh come one I really do live in hope) on a scale of one to 10, in comparison to these brats on the telly right now, she's a 0.1. I just would not allow that behaviour in our home or indeed allow her to speak to me in that fashion.

There's just so much take, take, take and gimme, gimme, gimme, with a lot of kids now and I am really frightened that we are beginning the start of something really awful to come with a nation of selfish, self-absorbed buck eejits.

How dare any child think it is okay to speak to their mother like that or indeed father but I do believe you have to have a certain and special respect for your mother.

Growing up my Mum would always sing this auld song 'No charge' in different situations, the one incident in particular I remember was if she had borrowed money (this maybe happened once) and you asked for it back she would sing 'for carrying you in my womb for nine months, no charge, for staying up with you all night when you were sick, no charge', etc, etc.

However annoying it was at the time there is an awful lot of truth there.

Cos the fact is, in the vast majority of cases, and it is the vast majority, there is no one at all in this earth, ever, who will love you like your mother loves you. There is no one who will encourage you like her, or try to advise and support you like your mother. And each does it in their own way.

And if we are on your cases it is generally because your behaviour is not becoming of you, is not worthy of you and because we want you to be the best you can be. But you need to meet us halfway, don't scream, shout and stamp your feet because you think we don't know what's going on, talk to us, let us know. How can we help otherwise? And that's what we are here for, to help you be the best you can be, not to be on your case. And never ever forget, the words of that song 'It's all be done before'. We did not come up the Lagan in a bubble.

I was once asked to describe my daughter after a bad bout of teenagedom nonsense and I said 'quietly stubborn', they thought it sounded like me! Maybe part of the worst clashes between mothers and daughters in particular is because we are more similar on a basic level than we would ever imagine.

In most cases, and I do know I have been wildly wrong on occasions, the awful rows have been because I need to know she's safe and it's such an awful world out there and it's a great one too but until she has the ammo to arm herself for that world, my rules apply. That's life and believe me this crazy malarkey of teenagedom is harder on the parent than the child, having done both.

I actually said that to my daughter tonight as it happens, there was a story in the papers here about the crazy, mad, dangerous and sexually promiscuous antics of teenagers from one of the more affluent areas in Dublin. Telling her about it, as a prelude to talking to her about it and to her I think I sounded like a fogey.

Me: "You wouldn't believe this story in the paper about the Wez disco (a teenage passage in Dublin for some kids from what I gather – but I
will speak about that again).

Daughter: Smiles a ridiculous knowing grin, rolls eyes up at daft and, like I mean, Like SO out of touch mother

Cue mother losing all rhyme and reason.


It was at that point all sensibilities went out the window before I raged, "I am not that out of touch with teenagers, I had barely left my teenage years when I had you". That shut her up and I think it was one of those moments, for maybe the first time, when she actually had a glimpse of me, as a person in my own right.

As CSN sang 'It's been a long time coming', only joking, it's only recently that my lost identity as me versus being her mother in her eyes has bothered me, it was part and parcel of what I choose years ago and that's been the way it is and should be to some extent. It's just that lately I feel that my efforts now, when she should have some kind of cop on as to the lengths I go to for her, are deemed, like WHATEVER.

B*ll*x to that, I know that this is going to be an ongoing issue, but I am a mother and so many other things too and I go to every length that I need to to make her happy, fulfilled and I worry constantly, like every other parent, that I fall short, I don't need my efforts to be taken for granted completely. That's fine for the two-year-old who believes, as they should, that the world revolves around them, and it is does. But for the teenager, your parent's world still revolves around you, but you need to start acknowledging what is being done, worried about, worked for, and all for you! No seriously, it's all done for you. We just want you to be happy.

thanks to

I suppose a lot of what this comes down to is that you only ever have one set of parents, and I know some people have not been that lucky for whatever reason, but for most people they are safe in the knowledge that their parents have loved them from every cell in their body, that gives parents an ownership-ish, a belief in, and well dibs on you, get over it and honour your parents, because they're worth it.

(This post was requested by one of my visitors following a spat of huge proportions with their older teenager. Will this help? probably not, but sure I'll give it a try.)


doris said...

That was a long one but worth reading.

I think things are so different now and I don't think there is any way we can engender these ideas such as "honour thy father and mother" and rather they just have to realise it by example.

We've been through the mill with our teenage daughter but I have to say that after about 5-6 years of turmoil we have some semblance of a really nice person coming out and I have a half decent relationship with her.

I laughed about your reference to the news item as a prelude to a discussion. Whenever I do that my daughter immediately pre-empts me to get to the point!

Stand your ground! Those are words you use and words I think too. My daughter has never gotten to swearing at me or calling me names because I just will not stand for it. On the other hand, she has bent my heart to the point of breaking.

I have found I have had to change and adapt. My teenage daughter was going to gigs and travelling on her own from the age of 12. I have had to be brave, and she has, on the whole, been extremely sensible. She may do the rock scene but she didn't do the sex and drugs too. Just as she said and I had to trust her. Very scary.

(I had so much freedom as a kid that our kids don't have these days so it is only natural they need to have space to find themselves.)

Like your daughter, she was an angel as a baby and little child. The changes came with the onset of puberty. She really is charming and a credit but she is definitely her own person and seems more at peace with herself now and maybe more at peace with me.

Is there a magic pill that can take us safely through these stages, I wish there was. I would never want to go through it again.

It is extremely complex and it sounds like you are doing a fantastic job because you are thinking about it! Just have courage - and I look forward to reading some more from you.

thordora said...

As someone who only wishes her mother had stayed around TO yell at her, I love this post. Of course you love her, and she loves you. She pushes because she has to, because that's how she grows. My oldest is only 2, and I already cannot IMAGINE what it's gonna be like at 13.

I also remember what I was like. I love my Dad SOOOO much, and I tried to be really good with him, since he had just lost the love of his life. Yet somedays, I was still just a big dumb 13 year old saying and doing stupid things.

You seem like such an honest Mom. She's lucky to have you. Tell her that someday, she'll miss you being annoying and bossy. Cause she really will.

Emma in Canada said...

Wow i think I ought to print your post and leave it around for my daughter to read when she comes home from her holidays. My mother always says to her "Your mother never would have talked to me the way you talk to her." And it's true, in fact even today at 31 I still won't talk back to her. She has my daughter in England with her for the next six weeks so who knows, maybe she will cure my daughter of the tempers and bad attitude.

Jordie's drunken wedding crasher...oh god... said...

well ehm....after being forced to read this post, and noticing the little bit at the end in brackets, i thought to myself, who on earth could that be....:s

all i can say redmum is that atleast you can see from both ends of the spectrum! The young wan isn't half as bad as it can get, i should know...

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