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.

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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.

Not Worthy Notes

When my senior year of high school ended I took most of the various memorabilia and notes I had written with friends and put it all in a box.  I don’t know why I did this, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.  The box moved around with me, and I never really went through it, except to open it, see it was my high school stuff, then close it and put it back in whatever closet it was being stored in.

With Oldest One in her senior year I thought it would be fun to pull all that stuff out and look at it with her.  When I went into our storage closet I couldn’t find it.  I thought I found it, but it was actually college and post-college letters, cards, daily planners and other miscellaneous fun stuff.  It was great going through that, and reading letters from people who are gone now, such as my Dad, my grandmothers and my great-aunt was just wonderful.  I showed Oldest One the cards and letters, some college items I had saved, and the personal ad I placed during a free promotion in the Jewish Newspaper of the city I had just moved to after graduating college.  There were a couple of high school items, such as my graduation cap and tassel, and a couple of ID’s, but not all the notes.

I really wanted to find the high school stuff, and a couple of days ago Husband and I were going through the closet looking for something else, and I found all of it.  It is now in a soft-side business briefcase.  I was so excited to find it that as soon as we found what we needed and put everything back I sat down with it all and started to look through it.

Which was a mistake.  Wow, was I an idiot.  Yes, I was a 17 year old girl getting ready to leave home for the first time to be on my own (hmmm, this sounds familiar), but apparently all of my brain cells were dormant.  If I wasn’t going on about a particular boy (and it seems I was a bit of a stalker from the sound of the notes between my girlfriends and I), I was looking to meet guys, or going to parties, or bored.  Sometimes all of the above at the same time.  I came across a note from one of my good friends talking about her parents going out of town so she was having a party, and could I bring the alcoholic beverages?  What?!  Oh wait, right, I was the only one the drive-through liquor store would sell to without asking for ID.  As if I want to share that.

Then there was my handwriting.  I know I used to dot my i’s with open circles, but didn’t realize how small I wrote.  I had this really rounded writing that didn’t even take up half of the available line space for height, which made it really hard to read.  I owe all of my teachers a huge apology.  Back then most assignments were written by hand, so they must have hated reading my assignments.  My handwriting looked ridiculous.

On a positive note I did read an essay I had done on a poet.  Since I’ve helped several seniors with essays, and see how they write, I had an idea of how I ranked.  The essay was actually pretty good.  It was coherent, put together well, and made sense.  So I must have had some brain cells triggering somewhere in my head.

I have put everything back in the briefcase and on the highest shelf in my bedroom closet.  At some point when I have time alone in the house I’ll take it down and spend time reading more of the notes.  Maybe I’ll find it really isn’t that bad and the handful I glanced through were the oddball ones.  I’m not holding my breath on that being the case.  I’m also not sharing with Oldest One, because she already is questioning my intelligence, and this would only confirm the worst.