Mum's the Word

12 is the new 2

Posted: Jan. 9, 2019 4:35 pm

I'm a victim of a hate crime.

My 12-year-old just shot me a look from across the room that could kill someone, and I'd like to report it.

I'm just sitting here having a cup of tea. I can't even remember if I said, "Good morning." That's usually an open invitation to vent, mostly about things I won't let her do.

What I want to say is, "Puberty is not my fault! Tween drama is not my fault! Life being hard and unfair is not my fault!"

If you think I'm making your life hard by asking you to make your bed and pick up your dirty clothes, tough! Here are some more chores! You can thank me later when you have realistic expectations and aren't constantly disappointed that people aren't feeding you grapes and fanning you with palms.

I shift from tough mom to therapist mom -- we all wear many hats. I wonder if this bad behavior is erupting because of an imbalance in her life. Maybe she's not getting enough physical contact. I decide to ask her if she thinks I hug her enough. Granted, she doesn't love physical contact, so I always try to respect her boundaries, and that's why I ask.

She shrugs and says, "Not really."

I immediately move in to hug her. She puts her arms up and shouts, "Boundaries!"

That's our safe word. I tried to change it to pineapple, but we remain using "boundaries."

I make a mental note to try and sneak in a hug later, being extra careful not to relive the throat punch of the other nights tucking in. I'm hoping it was accidental. She had complained about not being physically "tucked in" like the younger children and with a swift thrashing reminded me why I usually say, "I love you," from the door.

It's not just the above but also arguing about damn near everything that is exhausting. A few weeks ago she was yelling at me that I don't love her because I discipline her more than her younger sisters. I feel like the "You don't love me or understand me or ever take my side" is just bait to fight because they are wrong and don't want to be.

One, that's not true. I discipline everyone.

Two, if I didn't care, I would do nothing. Maybe even run away. Seriously. Most fantasies are of me alone, anywhere, possibly getting fed grapes and fanned by palms.

Three, my love is never under question. I love all of my kids equally. It's whether or not I like them in this current moment that's up for grabs. I should mention that this was over the fact that I asked her to walk the dog, she said no and punched her sister because she wouldn't do her job for her. But it's not about her, it's about everyone else and their failings. That sounds like a recipe for success. I'm pretty sure we are living in a generation that's learned to blame everyone and everything around it for its shortcomings. Well, not today, my dear!

I enlightened her that it was very much about her. She is responsible for herself. She is responsible for her attitude, her ability to follow directions, her ability to be respectful and do the tasks she's asked to do the first time without arguing.

Obviously this talk really sank in because the other night she threw a fit at a family dinner because I asked her to apologize for hitting her sister -- again! I'm literally holding back members of the older generation who are ready to undo their belts as she continually expresses her feelings of injustice toward me. I inform her that at the end of the day, no one is going to remember her younger sister being annoying. They may not even remember the hitting. They will, however, remember her being openly disruptive and disrespectful for the remainder of the night.

Am I the only one dealing with this level of drama?

I think we all know that there's no winning in parenting some days, but I feel like I've leveled up without proper warning or preparation.

When people said "terrible 2s" I didn't know they meant every number with 2 in it. I suppose I just have to hang in there. That and keep fighting the good fight in the realm of parenting, fully understanding and accepting that I am not my child's friend and this is a job, my job, that I was ordained by God to do.

As I let that sink in, I will take a deep breath and exhale expectations and present outcomes, knowing that I will come out the other side. I have no idea what that will look like, but it doesn't matter.

Here's to hoping 22 looks a lot like I did it right, and 32 looks like karma.