After many years trying to find a way of dealing with my teenage daughter, I believe I have a minefield of tips on how to live with this somewhat troublesome age. The knowledge has come from many teeth gnashing hair pulling episodes as a result of dealing with someone who feels that they know everything they should about life yet with no idea how to get off the couch and stretch an arm doing something useful.
After giving numerous lectures on the do’s and don’ts of life to one whose attention couldn’t be further than her nose I have had to learn (from her) of new ways to deal with her. Most of the time it seemed to me that I was talking to myself whereas I thought I was imparting valuable advice to a gullible youth (or so I thought). Having to compete with an ally of items for my teenager’s attention has taught me patience I never thought I might have in this lifetime.
Take earphones for instance. I wonder if whoever invented these knows (or even thought) of a poor mother, desperately trying to get through to her teenager with efforts thwarted by some obnoxious earplugs meant to blank out her voice to the wearer. I have, not once, taken comfort in knowing that I am not alone in the war after seeing some youth wearing huge headphones that are meant for the music industry (or something more serious) as they walk past moving to some rhythm only audible to themselves.
The earphones are nothing in the list of evil in comparison to the loud music (boy, I wonder how my eardrums could have taken this) coming from my teenagers room. Many of the times I have had to develop a contour (or two) in the face in an effort to pass across my dismay at the volume and the constant rattling of window panes that only served to make my teenager look up humorously for a split second when I get in her view.
And who does not know that teenagers are food tanks as well? How in the world does a sleeping Child(teenager), tired from watching too many movies while lying on the floor in her room, find the strength to get up in the middle of the night to go get a (countless) helping of food, without falling over something in the dark? At some point I was convinced that my house had turned into a competition ground for hungry teenagers to come and compete (of course in my absence) at who could take in more volumes of grub! Not to mention the ensuing mess after the visits!
Eye rolling. When it started, I kept thinking she could not keep it up for long but God, talk of energy! Communication of disdain has never been easier than on a teenager’s face. I could walk into her bedroom while she was doing something useful (only to herself) and she would practically roll her eyes in a way that said loudly `duuuh mum, cannot a girl get time to herself’. Having to stand my ground (though it would have been easier to back off running) I would remain in an attempt to make sure that her blood circulation kept going by asking her to at least get up and clean up her room.
Amidst all the clamor of trying to instill the right behavior into one who seemed bent on frustrating my efforts even before I begun, I came to my senses. A mother to a teen has to learn some battle tactics to employ if they have to keep her child (mine really?) under control. And right there I got a plan. No longer would I have a permanent headache (constantly asking her to pass over painkillers in hope her conscience might be pricked and she might change and spare me the headaches) but would be well prepared to join my girl in her game. Thanks to invaluable resources (The war at home tv series) I could now take on the culprit right in her style!
What glee! Nothing beats a TMAW (Teenage Mother At War) than the perturbed look on the face of her teenager on realizing that her game is over. It started with laziness (learned laziness). It would be a weekend and instead of getting up early to prepare breakfast for an unresponsive-until-after ten teenager, I would sleep in myself! And by that I mean sleep in till after 11. On the day that begun I got the honor of being shaken awake (after I’d ignored the vibrating phone) and asked when I thought breakfast would be served! The nerve of it! No inquiry if I might have been unwell. Then alas, minutes later I got to hear her moving around in the kitchen and was Blessed with some wonderful smell of cooking coming from there.
Right then a resolve was born! I was no longer going to be anyone’s slave (of course I still am in some way) but if anyone needed something done in the house they would have to do it themselves. Anyone in this case means my teen. And so I launched into battle. Sitting room was filthy and my friends are coming to visit, mum? Go fix it yourself. All the dishes are dirty, how do I perfect my newly discovered art of cooking? Clean them first. I need to go out with my friends to the mall (wearing high heels and pretending to be shopping for apartments). Wash (brush and water) the carpets and you might earn some cash.
Slowly it dawned on me that all the time I had spent fighting with my teenager would have turned out differently if I had learnt early enough to get into her shoes and wear them. The world became so much easier for me to live in from that day I stopped fighting her and decided to join her. No longer would I stop my friends coming over for tea (fear of embarrassing my teenager who thought our talk was too old fashioned) but would invite them over and talk and laugh deep into the evening with complete disregard of any obligations!
I discovered that I could take longer in the bathroom (me time) and completely blank out any insistent knocking. That meals did not need to be served on time (no one would die anyway) and that God does not necessarily call mothers to be chefs all their lives! And since toilet cleaning was not innate, why not let my teenager learn to do it herself? I also discovered that a mother is a flexible being who can learn (even do better) a few tasks like rolling of eyes (in communication to my teen). Given, I now once in a while get hit by a wave of sympathy on seeing the resigned look on her face when (yet again) I beat her to her game but the memories of those past days when I was imprisoned, chained to trying to get through to my girl in vain are a constant reminder that the battle continues. Aluta Continua!