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Archive for the ‘teenagers’ Category

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Beloved and I took the girls on vacation this past week, which was school vacation week here in New England.

Originally, we were going to go to Spain – primarily Barcelona – but then the Economic Downturn hit the law firms, and our previously-thought-to-be-predictable bonuses were scaled back.  Fortunately, mine was not scaled back by much – we were still able to take care of most of our NEEDS.  It was scaled back enough, however, to make me feel that Spain was imprudent.

So we went to D.C.

We had wanted to take them for a long time, but many things were in place to make this year perfect:  Well, of course, Obama.  Also, E is doing key parts of American History in 7th grade this year.

J seemed considerably less excited leading up to the trip.  We couldn’t get her engaged in the travel books to say what she wanted to do – she kept saying ‘mm, yeah, that’ll be fine.”  So we were a little worried on that front.

We were also a little worried because this was (oddly) our first real “tourist” vacation with the girls.  We’ve gone on weekend trips, and we’ve gone to Disneyland.  But otherwise, the heavy travel that Beloved and I have done has been while they’re with the Ex.

Well, it was a resounding success.

We had a blast.  Oh, pictures, you say? I’ll give you pictures.

Washington Monument @ sunset, after a storm

Washington Monument @ sunset, after a storm

WWII Memorial

WWII Memorial

Pandas!

Pandas!

White House

White House

And, um, Escalators.

And, um, Escalators.

We did pretty darned close to everything while there (6 days).  It’s easier to list what we did NOT do:  The Jefferson Memorial; the Aquarium; Georgetown.  We did (I think) every Smithsonian museum that was open, the major monuments, the White House Garden Tour (see Michelle, Malia & Sasha’s veggie garden):

White House Veggie Garden

White House Veggie Garden

We also were able to watch the Senate in session, which was high up on E’s list.  It was both our most frustrating and most rewarding experience.  We’d gone all over D.C. — the White House, the museums, the Supreme Court building — and been through many security systems.  To all of these locations, we’d brought our metal (beautiful) water bottles, and in all of these locations, it was okay.  Actually, we thought it wouldn’t be okay at the White House, and so we left our bags in the hotel (2 blocks away), but others had brought theirs and it was okay.

But the Capitol Building was different.  We waited in line for a long time in the morning to get into the building.  When we finally got to security, one of the very official military-esque security guards barked at J to go outside and dump her water and said “have that guard out there check it before you come back in.”  We went outside and dumped them and asked the other barky military man to check them.  He laughed at me and said, “I just saw you dump it, it’s fine.”  So we went back in.  But then the barky military man who was looking at the x-rays told us we had to throw them away.  No bottles or cans in the building.

We were sad.  Beloved was even a little indignant, but I attempted to talk him out of it.  He and J ended up sitting outside the building with our precious (beautiful) water bottles while E and I went back in to see if we could figure out what was going on with the tickets I was told were on reserve for us.  Turns out the info I had was all screwy (thanks Kerry-staff), and what we really wanted (Senate Gallery Passes) had to be picked up at Kerry’s office – across the street.

We did follow through, and were very glad of it.  We were able to see the Senate in session (Beloved went to a photography exhibit elsewhere, with the water bottles) – although we missed the exciting debate over the “Truth Commission” – and the girls almost peed their pants when John McCain walked in to the chambers and engaged in the (unpopulated) debate.  We had fun seeing how many senators we could identify, loved watching the procedure of the vote (where the senators walk in, stand at the top of the steps and just wave at the woman doing the roll call  — she sees them, calls out their vote, and they turn around and walk back out).

The girls also had a lot more tolerance for museums than I thought they would.  J was a lot more into the art than I think she expected to be.  We stuck with modern art, for the most part, and the girls were happy.

We walked a lot, and packed our days full.  I am thrilled with how the girls held up, and think they’re definitely more than ready for a Europe trip.  Hopefully next year …

But in the meantime, we are definitely due for a BEACH vacation. One where we sit in a chair and read a book for 6 days straight.  I’m already choosing a rental in the Outer Banks for August.  Now I just have to see if I can swing another solid week off of work, especially since there’s an October trial looming ….

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E was a grouch tonight.  She didn’t really start off that way, but come dinner time, she was snapping at her sister and was the proud owner of a rather unattractive sneer.

after about the 15th eye roll, i asked her, “What is bothering you right now?”

Her response?

“I don’t know! [sorta snarky]  Nothing’s really wrong, but for some reason, everything is irritating me. [snark gone]  I don’t know why.”

I said, “wow, that was refreshingly honest.  Thanks.”

If she can maintain this transparency through her teenage years, I will survive.  I can talk to J instead when E is feeling that way.  I can eat my chili in silence.  I can respect the fact that she is a mass of roiling emotions and hormones and growing-up-ness, as long as she’s honest over rude.

After that interaction, she mellowed out, and we conversed normally for the rest of the meal.

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The Scene:  Harried working mom on her way home after a 12+ hour day, about an hour longer than she planned with.  The mom is wrought with guilt, feeling the pressure of months of a heavy work load.  She is concerned that her family is starting to get sick of it.  At the same time, said Mom is kinda tickled over her new iPhone, and is fussing with it in the backseat of the taxicab when she receives a text from her daughter:

E:  When are you coming home?

M:  I should be there by 7:30. Why?

E:  I just wanted to know.

M: Are you mad?

E:  No.

M:  Sorry that I’m running late.  It was a busy day.

E:  It’s okay.

M:  Are you sure?

E:  MOM!  I’m watching Heroes!  Stop texting me!

M:  So, here I am, feeling guilty that you’re missing me because I’m working too much, and in reality, you just want me to stay gone long enough for you to finish your television show?

E:  That about sums it up.  Now can you stop texting me?

Harumph.

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E was in a play this weekend.  She was Mushu the Dragon – sidekick to Mulan.

Listen – E was one of the lead roles in her school play in April, and I was happy for her, and I was proud, but I wasn’t all over her, and I wasn’t on and on about how great my kid is, and what a great actress she is.  She struggled in some ways … she had a lot of pressure on her.  She was at the top of the heap after climbing the ranks in the proper manner during her young years.  6th graders have the major roles – no big deal.

BUT — As the dragon?

My kid rocked.  She was stellar.  She was funny, she was confident, she was GLOWING.  Just glowing.  Man.

But the best part:

After the show, the kids go back stage and change out of their costumes, and then surge out to the applause of friends & family.  Of course, being kids – they more want their friends – not their family.  So I didn’t rush over to her, and took my time getting across the room.  When I finally found her, she was talking with friends and her friends’ parents, and she looked up and saw me and ….

Smiles!  Beaming!

“HI!!!!!” she said!! Leaning in for a hug.  She accepted my compliments and showed her excitement.

It was just a fun, loving moment.

It’s a funny time – this adolescence.  There are windows and there are waves.  She’s sick of me 30% of the time, but is warm and sweet and cuddly 70%.  I find myself so appreciative of that 70% of the time.  I used to have 100%.  I know it used to be frustrating.  I didn’t want to be cuddled constantly.  Sometimes, I wanted to just be me.  No appendages.

Now that E is shrugging me off part of the time – I’m savoring the rest.  Savoring.  Every smile – every time she doesn’t shake my hand off when I grab it to cross the street.  Every “I love you” before we hang up the phone – is precious.

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It was a busy weekend.

  1. E had a friend sleep over on Friday night.  It went well.  It is a friend who I have had some issues with before – her behavior, her negativity, her influence on E.  There was none of that this weekend.  She was flexible, fun, and really pleasant to have around.  It was very nice.  She’s the daughter of a friend, so it was good that it went well.
  2. Both girls had basketball games on Saturday a.m.  Beloved took J to her early game (where she scored a basket, and was very proud, because it was against the Tall Team).  E and her friend walked to theirs alone.  No.  I did not go. There are only two teams in their age bracket (b/c it’s 6-8th grades, and 7th and 8th graders can play for the school teams, and usually choose that over the town team).  Every week, the two teams play each other.  It’s very casual, not competitive, and frankly — boring.  E doesn’t care if I’m there or not, just enjoys running around with her friends.  If I am there, she spends more of her energy monitoring my conversations with other parents (to be sure I don’t say her name …. even if I say “Oh, E is due for a teeth cleaning” or “E’s birthday is in September” she hears her name and has a fit) than she does playing the game.
  3. My parents came in at noon on Saturday.  Mom was having some back pain, so they were a little slow-moving, which was fine with us.
  4. E went to a movie with friends.
  5. J had a girl scout meeting – where she baked bread.
  6. Me, Beloved, Mom and Dad went to see a three bedroom apartment that is for rent. It was pretty nice, but short a bathroom and probably one room.  I also was totally put off by the other occupant of the 2 family house, which may or may not be the owner’s mother-in-law.  Things were a little fuzzy. I think that the space issues could have worked out, but the downstairs person was the deal killer.
  7. Once we collected the girls back at home, we all went out to dinner.  At your typical chain steak-house, which is the sort of place we always go with my parents.  They don’t like my favorite places, they find them “weird” – but I’ll take a steak any day.  J had salmon, and E ate a 1/2 rack of baby back ribs.  The food was pretty good.  My dad got all sappy on me when I offered to pick up the tab …. something about being so proud that I am now in a position where I can do that, but that he won’t let me until I’m “caught up.”  I don’t know waht that means.  Do I have to catch up with HIM?  Catch up with my bills?  Pay off all my school loans?  Whatever he meant – thanks for dinner, dad.
  8. Then, this morning, we cursed the time change as Beloved trudged off to a Sunday morning meeting and my parents and I left two sleeping children to go and see my office.  My parents were duly impressed.  They liked my view, the name plaque on my door, and the building at large.  I think my air-conditioning-fixing dad was a bit proud of his eldest child.  He couldn’t have said so more times.  Mom was just happy to see all the pictures of E and J around the room (and both her nephews, as well).  I think she was reassured that my job does not mean that I’ve forgotten that I still have 2 kids.
  9. We then came home and I dragged the girls out of bed at ELEVEN AM!!!  Shit!!  I know it only felt like 10 them.  And 10 is a normal weekend wake up time for them.  But today it was ELEVEN.  Which does mean that now, at 11:28 p.m., I can hear E tossing and turning and sighing heavy, frustrated, insomniatic sighs.
  10. My dad made waffles.  I don’t know what he did, but the house still smells like syrup.  What the fuck?  We had pancakes yesterday, and the house didn’t smell like syrup all day.  I think it’s because despite the real Vermont maple syrup that we stay stocked in, Dad brought his Aunt Jemima’s, and those artificial flavorings have chemically attached themselves to the paint.  Even Beloved’s stir fry couldn’t rid us of the smell.
  11. I did 8 loads of laundry.
  12. Mom, Dad and I went to 4 open houses.  As in – homes for SALE.  There were several nice ones.  I am not going to push to buy right now.  Even though our jumbo mortgage limit in the Boston area was raised to the point that I likely can buy a few of them.  I’m just not willing to do so just to find myself upside down in a year or so, wanting to move b/c my condo is too small for 2 teenagers and all their friends that they keep dragging home.  I’m resigned to be a renter for a couple more years.  Just not here.  It’s too small.
  13. Then they left.  My parents.  And I was going to go with E to a play, but I was quite frankly exhausted, so I bowed out, and spent some time organizing my ridiculous amounts of clothing, hanging out with J and Beloved, and resting for a minute, because I knew I had to …
  14. Go to the “let’s talk about our 6th graders” meeting that was scheduled for tonight.  Ugh.  That was stressful.  It was about relationships and dating.  About whether or not kids have sex in high school, whether there’s kissing in 6th grade, and whether kids are “grinding” on the dance floor at their little dances this year.   This requires a post of its own.  Because from that discussion came at home discussions, and things just went spiraling off into weirdness (as J called it, until I told her it was NOT weird, it was normal, because it all happens to everyone, and if it didn’t, then there would be no people).  Oh yeah, we had a sex talk, baby.  Replete with erections and ejaculations and the difference between semen and urine.  Beloved was dragged into it, and was stellar.  I shall try to remember to post more about this tomorrow.
  15. It’s a little more stressful that next time, I somehow ended up the chair of the meeting.  Ugh.  We will be talking about Freedom for 6th graders.
  16. Then E caught me snooping around on her phone.  I tried to turn the volume down, and was looking at who she called and who called her, and she came out of her room.  I had time to hide the phone in a towel, and she said, “I’m looking for a book.”  And Beloved told her to go to bed.  But then she found her book and said, “oh, I should put my phone in my purse.  Oh.  Where’s my phone?  I thought I put it right there.”  Dammit.  She totally heard me before I turned the volume down.  All I could was laugh and say, “fine, it’s right here, you snot, stop erasing your text messages.”  She laughed at me and said, “mom! They were all to you!!”  But she didn’t erase her call log, and there’s no denying that a certain boy has been calling her almost daily.  The calls are quick.  Not long.  She tells me that they involve questions about homework and such.  Hmmmm.

And that is what happened on yet another weekend where Zuska brought her work computer home just to leave in her bag all.  weekend.  long.

Fortunately, there are no deadlines until Wednesday.

I don’t blow off deadlines.

Really.

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Instruction

I have a “recently favorite” blog. This ridiculously humorous woman who possibly farts more than I do, and who is so honest and clever and loving.

She is so famous and popular, she does not know that I exist.

But still, I love her from afar.

Today’s post was one that I would like to savor for a little while. I am writing about it so that I have to remember it – despite my illness, despite my girls’ gone-ness this week. I have to have it mind when E comes home and starts yelling at me for making assumptions about her behavior. And about how unfair it is that just because she’s on the computer, I assume she isn’t doing anything productive. About how I should not accuse her of playing games all the time, when she is in fact writing a story. About how no matter how hard she tries all the time, everything she does is wrong.

All of that, in response to my asking her to put the computer aside, and to hang out in the kitchen with me while I cook dinner.

The nerve.

But it is true, as a more experienced mom related to Jessica, that I respond with a similar level of passion. I’ve been noticing this lately (with some help from my Brave Beloved), and working to change this. I try so hard to unentangle myself – emotionally – from these rejecting outbursts. From the fact that a hug from me no longer makes things better. It is no longer the pinnacle of resolution. It’s just me invading her privacy.

This is her development. And as she is struggling to make sense of it all – in the irritating “tweener” manner: one part teenager (rational, logical arguments) and two parts child (tears, foot stomping, reaching the emotional tipping point) – I need to see that it not my development. That my role is no longer the mother of a 4 year old, 5 year old, 8 year old – or even 10 year old. I need to buck up.

I know that her friends are going through similar things. No one is doing it exactly the same. Some kids are being really mean to their moms. (In ways that I would not tolerate.) Some are just shutting themselves up in their rooms. A luxury E does not have, since she still shares with J.

(Which is a whole other can of worms, and 1/2 the reason why I am getting ready to call a mortgage broker so I can decide if I’m buying or renting in the next 8-12 months. Even that feels too long.)

But the story linked to above, I think, helps to ground me in the understanding I already have, but have a hard time keeping ever-conscious of when in the throes of an outburst.

It is funny, because Beloved and I having been laughing HARD at the response he got a post he had written on his blog. Despite his posting having nothing to do with babies walking, it’s been absolutely swarmed to by people looking for poems about “baby’s first steps.”

And I have been vehemently mocking these women – these mothers. I believe some of my utter disgust with the idea that someone honestly feels that their child’s first step is poetry worthy is because I know that was me. And I no longer understand that me.

When E and J were little, every little milestone was my entire world. Everything a photograph. Everything a phone call to my mother. What they ate. What faces they made when they saw something for the first time.

It all felt so big.

But it got smaller. It happened naturally. I didn’t need to know about every bite they took. I didn’t need to know when they pooped. I didn’t need to watch every single social interaction.

I didn’t mind that. It’s kind of nice to no longer have an intimate relationship with someone else’s waste. It’s nice to have more space that you can occupy alone. Without a little one attached to your leg.

Now that the distance should keep growing, it’s a little harder.

I’m working on it.

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Last year, as the girls were out the door to their father’s house, I checked out “Your Ten to Fourteen Year Old” to find out what I was in for this year.

It told me that 11 year olds hate their mothers.

Shit.

Don’t I have enough hardships with E? Do I need her hating me as well?

But for a really long time – MONTHS, even – she adored me, still. She thought I was the sun, the moon and the stars (okay, maybe just the stars … but she LIKED me).

Now, though:

  • I’m dumb.
  • Irrational.
  • Irrelevant.
  • Unfair.
  • Boring.
  • Annoying.
  • Embarrassing.
  • Rude.
  • Demanding.
  • Demeaning.

God, this list could go on.

She is now – and just now – at the point where she shakes off my hand if I grab hers at an intersection. She doesn’t want me talking to her friends anymore. It’s hard to get a hug.

Not impossible.

Not yet.

But, I sort of miss her. And I hate her yelling at me. And I find it a little hard – being a parent of a tweener. It’s hard to be really strict, knowing that her independent drive will respond to my strictness by pulling away a bit more – emotionally.

which is the goal.

I know this.

And being her friend is NOT what she needs.

I know this, too.

She has a lot of friends.

They’re 11, and 12. They’re not 35.

I know we’re coming up on years where we are strangers to each other. Where she looks at me and sees something I don’t feel like.

But those years will pass. And we’ll be okay.We’ll sit in a family room, munching on chips and watching football while her kids ask me for help on their school projects.* We’ll go places together. We’ll ask each other for advice.

I hope that our tumultuous time in between is short, and that our windows of fighting are smaller than our windows of understanding.

*yes, that’s what’s happening right this minute – my dad, building boxes and finding paint with E, while my mom looks at girl scout cookie order forms with J, and the Pats are winning, and I am this irrelevant middle-generation sitting with her computer on her lap – invisible.

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