This week will mark one year since I officially became the mom of a teen. My daughter will celebrate her 14th birthday in five days. I will celebrate a year of survival.
I am not quite willing to characterize the year's transformation of my first born as demonic possession (yet), but I admit sometimes I do look at her and wonder what happened to my sweet little girl.
Whether coincidence, I am not sure, but it seems that the first of the teen years brings with it many other firsts; almost as many as baby's first year.
During the past year, she had her first official boyfriend (the "we're going out but all we do is text each other" kind); and her first official break-up (surprisingly not the texting kind and rather painless, thankfully). She went from never using the words "hang-out" to using them regularly. She got her first babysitting job. She started caring about her wardrobe and her hair. And she graciously accepted her new role as mom's main blogging subject; although she regards said new role as annoying.
Over the last year, she has also gotten moodier. It seems that the 13th birthday also brings with it less patience for one's parents and siblings. In this household, we are all uncool, annoying, and embarrassing to the 13-year-old. As I reminisce, I realize that her little mini attitude so slowly blossomed, it was like watching a flower bloom in time-lapsed photography. But unlike a fully-flourished flower, the teen-aged attitude is not so pretty.
Simple things like her brother allowing syrup to ooze over the side of the bottle top, or his habit of leaving dirty socks on the floor, unleash a granny-like nagging that has my messy son and I both rolling our eyes. Or she complains when my son gets excited about something, because he usually gets a little giddy and carefree. I think it's sweet; my teen finds it maddening.
As for the parents, the days of cuddling and kisses are long gone, replaced by cries of "I need my space." When I lean in for a hug, I get that half-body kind - like that casual maneuver men use these days when they greet each other. For the men, though, it seems that they view this as slightly friendlier than the handshake, but less awkward than the full-on hug. For my daughter, it just seems like the less physical contact with her parents the better. As for kisses, the best I can hope for these days is the top of her head offered to my puckered lips. And, sadly, no more am I needed for the nightly tuck-in.
In the old days, my daughter invited me on class trips and enjoyed when I visited her classroom. These days, I'm asked NOT to volunteer to chaperone any school-related events, and to avoid her if I have to visit her school.
To be fair, my daughter is not the wicked child that I've made her out to be. For the most part, she remains a thoughtful, compassionate and sweet person. She still cares for her family members when they are sick and makes pretty homemade cards. She is great with little kids and animals, and won't allow her fear for bugs to have fatal consequences.
But it is, indeed, frightening how quickly she has gone from a happy-go-lucky kid who liked to spend time with her family, to an easily-irritated teen who is more interested in spending time with her friends and her phone (the latter which seems to be crazy-glued to her hand).
I was warned by well-traveled, well-intended parents who have been there; but like childbirth, no warnings, or books (or medication) do the teen-girl transformation justice. Funny how one's perspective changes as a parent. Even my own experiences as a teen failed to prepare me for the first of the teen years of my oldest child. And as I wonder, and worry, about the firsts that are yet to come, I feel woefully unprepared despite year-one under my belt.