Monday, October 27, 2008

The face of puberty

"This is true joy in life- the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature, instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy." --George Bernard Shaw that not "the face of puberty"? A "little clod of ailments and grievances"?

Maria turned 12 in September. But she became a teenager a few days ago. We had our first real bout of teen angst, followed by a terse and irritated conversation that left us both in tears and surrounded by stony silence. Don't get me wrong, we've had the occasional hormonal tearfest here and there, but this was the first real moment that I've doubted myself in navigating these teenage years.

I am SO OVER raising a teenager already. (sigh) That's enough for me, thank you, please wake me when you turn 18.

No, it's ok. Since then we have restored ourselves, and we are fine. It's just painful,,,we are so close, but I found out the other day that we are not close enough to avoid this void of communication, this place where we don't understand each other all of the time anymore, this place where Mom is not enough anymore, where she decides that her life is, at least for the moment, completely unbearable and I'm sitting there thinking "Huh?"

And I try to understand. She's miserable over something that I, in my wise old age, think is completely inane, and I handle it badly, just trying to brush off what I see as irritating self-indulgent whininess. And by brushing it off I turn what could and should have been a chance for her to just vent about whatever is bothering her into this Major Lecture About What Mom Thinks Is Wrong With You. And those lectures always go well, yes? And just like that I've fallen into my own worse parenting trap of riding my kids too hard, of turning simple childish immaturity into a giant character issue to be conquered.

I remember being an angst-filled navel-gazing 12 year old. That's part of the problem, really, that part of being a teenager is being *so* focused on yourself and your own shortcomings, whether those shortcomings are from within or imposed on you by your unreasonable parents, and it takes a few years, or ten, to get that you are really ok, faults and all, and everyone else is too busy trying to schlep through life worrying about their own navel to care much about yours, and that you can be both very ordinary and very special at the same time.

"You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve. And that is both honor enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content." Aslan, from Prince Caspian

1 comment:

Wendy in VA said...

{{Mel}} My oldest dd is 14, and I think it's easier now than when she was 12-13yo. We still have our moments, but she doesn't seem as irrational as she was then. Or maybe I've just gotten better at handling it. LOL Humor seems to be the best way to deal with all of it, at least for us. Hang in there!