Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Gone, Baby, Gone

We used to joke with our kids all the time that they would go bad when they became teenagers. It's come to pass with my youngest daughter, who just turned 13, and being bad in this case means that in public she acts as if she would rather be with anyone but me. Those of you who can see my current profile picture on Facebook can see how thrilled she seems to be with my arm around her -- she looks like she's being groped by the fourth boyfriend her mom has let move in this month -- the one who wants her to fetch beer and "give us a kiss." I'm trying not to take it personally, but being thin-skinned, it wounds me deeply.

I know I stopped being the center of her world a long time ago, but this public physical rejection is a new chapter -- and yes, I know it's not abbynormal. I just read this on a website called Family Education: But if you become angry, indignant, hurt, disappointed, or feel rejected and pressure her when she says "no" to you, you are teaching her to put other people's feelings first and that it is wrong to try to protect herself from unwanted physical advances.

Unwanted physical advances? Wow -- seeing that in print makes me want to go have a cigarette with the creepy boyfriend. I don't know why I should be spared -- I certainly didn't spare my mother. I feel such shame and sorrow when I think of how I distanced her from myself, even as I got older. My chickens are coming home to roost -- the surly biddies, not the cute chicks.

Years ago I was visiting my sister and commented on how churlish her teenager acted when she came downstairs. My sister, totally surprised, told me that her daughter was having a good day. Like many of us, I did my best parenting when I had no children and I remember thinking how I would never put up with that kind of behavior! I not only put up with it, I sometimes cringe and cry.

Lucky for me, her sister likes physical affection, no matter where, and now that my youngest is home and it's just us, she's back to being my baby -- even having her stinky feet in my lap feels a treat. Sometimes you win.

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