On Edge, But Not Yelling

One of the tactics I use for coping with a teenage daughter who is frustrating me is to remove myself from the situation.  I really, really don’t want to start yelling.  My parents both yelled a lot, and with cuss words, and used name calling and that is a path I don’t ever want to go down with my kids.  Yes, I’ve yelled, but I haven’t called them names, or used cuss words to tell them what I thought of them.  That isn’t the kind of parent I want to be.

Yesterday I took Oldest One to get vaccinations for her trip out of the country this summer, and to get the college vaccination sheet signed saying she had all the required vaccinations.  I was chatting with her in the waiting room – well, trying to – about upcoming activities.  Out of nowhere she gets an attitude, and starts in on something that surprised me, and she wasn’t very nice about it.  I tried to answer nicely, but she set me on edge.  We were sitting in chairs next to each other with our arms touching, and at the point I was getting upset I moved my body away from her in the chair, and moved my arm away from hers.

I moved away without thinking, and what made me realize I had was Oldest One immediately looking at my arm after I moved it and suddenly backtracking on what she was saying.  At that point since I was irritated I think I answered “Okay” and then started reading a book on my Kindle through my phone.  I wasn’t trying to upset her more; I was trying to get myself away from being angry.  About a minute later she was leaning towards me and had her arm on mine.

Later in the evening Oldest One, who was now in a good mood after cheer practice and because she and her friends were going to hang out during the week since it is spring break, asked me for money.  She uses The Bank of Mom & Dad.  I looked at her and half-jokingly/half seriously commented on if she deserved money to go out after being rude and not nice in the waiting room.  I was going to give her the money, I just wanted to see what she said.  She said she was frustrated and apologized, and looked like a deer in the headlights.

When I am fairly calm and tell Oldest One that her behavior is not appreciated, and that she is being rude, not nice, and not showing respect I seem to get through to her.  I’ve only done this a few times, and usually after I’ve had several days of behavior I don’t like.  Recently Oldest One and Husband had a clash, and a few days later her club cheer coach told me Oldest One had told the coaches about it, and they had told her she needed to change her attitude and get a respectful tone and recognize all we do for her.  Go coaches!

I am not a perfect parent, but I try my best to be a good one.  I know Oldest One does love and appreciate all that is done for her, but she gets lost in the teenage world view, which is limited and small, and often shows the opposite.  I can’t always talk to her and get through, but I know that if I keep trying and don’t yell there will be a point where she will want to talk, and I’ll be available, and we will bond over ice cream.

What are Designer’s Thinking?

Prom dress shopping ended without a dress, and with my friend and me wondering who is designing these dresses for teenage girls.  I’m okay with short skirts and short shorts (as long as the rear end is covered when bending over), and I was once known for the short skirts I wore.  As a student employee I had a skirt or two I was asked to not wear to the office again.  But compared to the prom dresses I saw I was dressed for a convent.

The worst ones were two piece outfits; a long skirt, and then a top the size of a sports bra covered in sequins.  It looked terrible on the hanger, and I can’t imagine it actually looked good on anyone.  Not what I want to see any teenage girl wearing at prom.  Then there was the dress Oldest One tried on that was quite deceptive on the hanger.  It was so low in back underwear couldn’t be worn, and the cutouts were so deep the front was compromised.  I’m okay with a low back, but I would like her to be able to wear underwear without it being seen.  And I want her front covered.

Do these designers think us parents want to put our daughter’s in these dresses?  I saw dresses where the material was in strips on the top, so skin showed on the top and there was no back.  Or the dresses that have the see through material on top; it doesn’t look good on a wedding dress and it sure doesn’t look good or appropriate on a prom dress.  I have an idea where the designer’s heads were when they designed these dresses, and it’s too bad that this is what they think a prom dress should look like.

We didn’t see any girls trying the inappropriate dresses on, but we didn’t see anyone without a parent either.  It isn’t like these dresses are affordable, because some of them were in the $300 range, which was well outside of what I was willing to pay for a dress that had all the material.  I understand why many schools ban certain types of prom dresses these days.

I know, I sound really old, but these dresses were just so awful and inappropriate.  I don’t want a picture of my daughter I wouldn’t want to put out because of what she is(n’t) wearing.  Her taste might be different than mine, but last year she chose a very classic and elegant look, which the dresses with low backs and barely there fronts will never have.  I think designers need to quite trying to be cutting edge (or their idea of it) with prom dresses, and keep to the cute and the classic.

Teenage Tears

Lately it seems we don’t have a day without a teenage girl crying in the house.  It’s crazy, but I can’t remember the last cry free day we had.  Little One is at that stage where anything can set her off at any time with no warning.  I think Older One is, as she gets closer to leaving, feeling both the excitement and the scariness of living away from us.

Husband is not fond of the crying.  He wants to figure out the problem, give a solution, and have it done.  Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that.  The girls might just be having an emotional minute and no amount of problem solving is going to help.  They could be crying because of us, so we can’t offer a solution (some days saying no is a lot harder than others).  Sometimes they don’t even know why they are crying, they just are.

As a teenager I wasn’t known for crying; I was known for never crying.  Looking back that was just weird.  What teenage girl doesn’t cry when a boy hurts her feelings or her parents yell at her?  Me.  My friends would comment on it, and how I never cried, but also how I was never serious and always joking.  I cried for about three minutes the night we graduated, and that was it.  Obviously it was my way of coping, not crying, and also just shoving things away that might bother me.

I do cry these days, which is probably a lot better for me.  I can also shove things away (like my Mom situation) but I usually try to face and talk about issues.  I can be serious, and am actually too serious sometimes.  I still deflect with jokes, especially at work, but I usually do it in situations where keeping it light is the better way to go.

Little One wants to be hugged when she is upset and crying, and Oldest One just wants to be left alone.  So we do both.  And offer ice cream for the harder situations.  Or French fries.  Or both, because nothing helps with crying like ice cream and French fries.  Sometimes it’s hard to know what will help the girls, but I’ve found giving hugs and letting them know they are loved is never wrong.

Future with an Empty Nest

I had a conversation the other day about what life is like when your kids aren’t at home anymore.  The person I was talking to has a son in college out of state, so it is just her and her husband now.  She was saying it’s nice to know they are good together without a child and the related activities.

Husband and I have had trial runs on that this year.  With all the cheerleading and school activities two or three days a week the girls would leave for school shortly after 7a and not get home until 9a, and they didn’t need us to drive them around.  That left a lot of time for Husband and I to be on our own.  Granted, for the first month I couldn’t get out of bed, but that had its own set of challenges we needed to figure out.

What we’ve found is we still enjoy each other, and spending time together.  Sure, the girls are home at some point, but by the time they get home I’m thinking about getting things ready for the morning and going to bed.  It’s what happens from the time I get home from work until the girls are home again, when we are alone, that is important.

We’ve always been the kind of couple that likes to do everything together.  And we’ve found we still enjoy being together, just us, no kids.  We don’t do anything exciting, go to the grocery store, watch TV, talk about our day, but we are happy to just be together.  I hadn’t given much thought to what we would be like when we finally had time without the girls (and I don’t count time without the girls when I am the chauffer, so have to keep an eye on the clock); I think I just figured we would be fine.  In looking at it though, I’m glad we are fine being alone.

We all know the empty nest is looming, and even if the kids come back to live at home after college it isn’t the same, because they are adults with a life of their own.  Next year we’ll be driving Little One to all of her activities, but only for a year and a half.  Then she gets her driver’s license and we are already talking about taking a dance or cooking class.  I’ve always wanted to take a dance class with Husband, but we haven’t had the time (or money).

Husband and I adore the girls, and know we are going to miss Oldest One when she leaves for college, and don’t even think about Little One getting that old.  At the same time, we have our plans and dreams for when the girls are adults and living their lives.  Sure, we hope the girls and their spouses might want to take a vacation with us once in a while, and we hope they want to celebrate holidays with us, and enjoy doing things with us.  But we also want to enjoy each other, and doing things together, and traveling to all the places I’ve never been.  I think this is one of the hardest stages of parenting…letting the kids go while living the rest of our lives.

I Don’t Like to Shop

I am not into shopping for clothes for myself.  I never really have been.  I find a few things I like, I’m happy, and I wear the heck out of them.  This week a pair of my work pants ripped and can’t be repaired, so I will be forced to go shopping.  I’m not looking forward to it.

I have never had the huge closet of clothes and shoes some people have.  I currently have 2 pairs of shoes for work, a couple pairs of dressy heels I never wear, 2 half boots I love to wear, and my tennis shoes.  I probably have 7 or 8 tops for work, just winter, and then another 7 or 8 for summer.  I have jeans, 3 sweatshirts, a top or two for winter, and a few tops for summer.  That about sums up my wardrobe.

I do enjoy shopping for the girls.  But they are the ones looking through the racks while I follow behind and hold what they want to try on.  I get to sit on a chair while they pull clothes on and off, giving a yes or no when asked.  It’s a lot of standing and walking, but it beats getting in and out of way more pieces of clothing than I want to be messing with.

In my 20’s I would tell myself I would go each paycheck and pick up one nice item, and build a really nice wardrobe that way.  It never happened.  I would go shopping when I needed an outfit, or if friends were going, but it seemed like too much effort to actually build that wardrobe.  I did enjoy trying on wedding dresses when I had a friend go with me.  It was no fun at all to go with my Mom, and she is the only Mom I have ever heard of who fell asleep while shopping for her daughter’s wedding dress.  I guess it was boring.  In the end Husband went with me and helped me pick out my dress.

I also have the problem that while I’ll spend anything on clothes for the girls, I don’t like to spend a lot on myself.  I’ll look at something, think I should try it, look at the price and put it back.  For some reason I can’t justify spending a lot on clothes, even though I keep my clothes for years.  Right now I am wearing a sweater I bought when Oldest One was a baby.  I’ll probably be wearing it when she graduates college and beyond.  So it should be easy for me to spend money when I manage to go buy things, because I’ll be wearing them for the next 20 years.

Hopefully I’ll find something at the first store I go to, and won’t have to be in cramped, hot dressing rooms for too long.  Maybe I’ll take one of the girls, because they like to pick out things for me to try on.  Or maybe I’ll go home and relax, and do it another day.  If there is ever a thing to procrastinate about, this is it for me.

Body Type Shouldn’t Matter

My girls have completely opposite body types.  Oldest One has always been very thin with no extra body fat, and although she was the shortest one in her eighth grade class, as a high school senior she is one of the tallest girls at 5’ 7½“.  Little One has been pretty average in height, and developed a prepubescent tummy, just like I had, but she is now growing taller (from 5’ 3” to 5’ 4½” in just a few months) and starting to lose her baby fat…just like I did at that age.

Husband and I have tried hard to make both girls feel comfortable with how they look.  Competitive cheer is a pretty physically demanding sport, so they have both benefitted from year-round practices several times a week.  When we got them a Wii we only bought games where they had to be active and move.  We felt it was better to keep them active, and try to eat healthier then to put anyone on a diet.  That came from my experience as a child on Weight Watchers, which I hated doing.  I knew Little One would lose her tummy when she hit a certain age, and dieting wouldn’t change it.  Husband and I just needed to keep her active and fit, and eating decently.

For the most part Little One hasn’t been too bothered by her tummy.  She likes it covered, and she knows it is there, but I always made sure to help her pick out clothes that were cute and made her feel good, and more importantly, that fit right for her body type.  I always feel bad for the little girls with a tummy who are stuffed into clothes a size or two smaller than they need.  The hard part now is getting Little One to realize she is picking out clothes in sizes that are too big, and she needs to start wearing a smaller size.

For a female of any age body image is usually a big deal whether it should be or not.  I want my girls to feel confident, and see themselves as beautiful because of who they are and what they have accomplished.  I don’t want them to compare themselves to air brushed images, or feel they have to look a specific way because everyone in magazines does.  I admit I don’t always feel great because I am overweight, but I know there is a lot more to me than that, and I try to not let that one aspect color everything else about who I am.

Oldest One does look good in pretty much any outfit she throws on, and she doesn’t have to worry about what she eats.  It doesn’t mean she didn’t have a hard time suddenly growing taller than everyone, including the boys, and dealing with that.  She has people tell her she is too thin and needs to eat.  The child can put away a lot of food; it is just the way she is made at this point in her life.  She doesn’t like to be told she is too thin any more than Little One likes it if someone tells her she is chubby.  Having kids at total opposite ends of the body spectrum has allowed me to see the good and bad of each end.  We all need to focus less on what a person’s body looks like, and more on the person and their qualities.  I’m not friends with people for how they look, and either are my girls.  We choose our friends for who they are, which will always be more important than what their body is like.

Entitlement & Idiots

I read an article yesterday about an 18 year old girl who moved out of her parents’ home into a friend’s home because she didn’t like the rules her parents set, and this girl is now suing her parents to get them to finish paying her private high school tuition, pay her college tuition, and something else monetary.    The lawsuit is being paid for by the friend’s father, who is asking for all of the fees he is paying to be paid back to him by the parents.  The rules she didn’t like were to be respectful, abide by the set curfew, and to maybe rethink the relationship with the boyfriend.  Those evil, nasty parents!

I’d like to think there is more to the story then this girl leaving because of three pretty standard rules.  Oldest One, who is still 17, has a curfew we expect her to keep, and we also expect her to be respectful with everyone.  No boyfriend, so we don’t have that issue, and I can’t say what I would do if she brought home someone who seemed to be bad for her.  But, going by just the few facts presented in the article, what I get is a spoiled, self-centered child who thinks she is an adult being guided by a so-called adult who is an idiot.

Husband and I have been in situations where the parenting is questionable, so we do what we can to help the child and have our home be a safe place.  It would never enter my mind to sue the parent for anything.  If a situation were so unsafe the child needed another place to live we’d be there.  If the parent was just having a hard time, and needed help we’d be there.  It’s easy to place blame on how other parents raise their kids, and us parents are the first to point fingers and whisper, but to go down the road of convincing a child to sue their parents seems way out of line.

An update to the article showed the judge ruled the parents did not have to pay the private school tuition or the fees of the parent paying for this, and put on hold the question of paying for college because he wants to see the family back together.  The parents reportedly have been in tears when talking about the situation.  I know I would be.

We all have our ideas of what a good parent is, and I’d like to think most want to be a good parent and take care of their kids.  I’d also like to think that for most of us helping a child out doesn’t include assisting them to sue their parents.  I feel bad for these parents, and I can’t imagine how awful they feel trying to get through all of this.  One day this girl will probably have her own kids, and as they approach the age of 18 I wonder what her feelings will be on what she put her parents through.