“If anyone is a parent of a teenager and isn’t fighting, then either they aren’t paying attention or they are doing something wrong.”
This was my husband’s wisdom shared when I asked him if we were being too restrictive, after assuring me that we were not. We were sitting at the dinner table with the boys, Jane having opted to spend mealtime in her room, curled up on her bed, likely thinking we were extremely unreasonable.
She’s been asking for a bikini. Actually, she’s been asking for a non-tankini two piece swimsuit. She’s perfectly willing (and actually would prefer) to have a very modest lifeguard style top, like a sports bra.
But we aren’t ready for her to show that much skin. And she can’t articulate why she wants to.
We certainly know why we don’t want her to. She’s thirteen, approaching the end of seventh grade. No one would know that looking at her though.
We ran across an old friend, a photographer, who hadn’t seen Jane in some time. His eyes bugged out when he saw her and he said, “Whoa!” – not believing how big she was.
“Will I be taking her picture soon?” he asked, referring to his rather brisk business in photographing High School Seniors. He was shocked to find out her age, insisting that he would have put her in at least tenth grade.
And therein lies the problem.
She may look like she’s 16 or older but she most certainly is not. Her body is much more mature than her mind and certainly more so than her emotions. She is not in the least bit equipped with the skills needed to recognize and properly respond to the kind of attention she would get.
And so we say no.
And she gets angry.
And I feel sad.
And he is oh so right. Teenagers are basically only happy as long as everything is going their way. If anything isn’t what they want, when they want it, how they want it, then they shed any resemblance to human decency and turn into irrational beasts, angry at the world.
Sometimes I just want to give in. I hesitate to say that since she reads this blog and I don’t want to give her incentive to push harder, but it’s true. Sometimes I just want the anger and the glares and the distance to stop. I just want to get along.
But what kind of service would that be to her? What kind of a person would I be helping shape her to be? I’m certainly paying attention but if I gave in, I’d be doing something wrong. So the fights must continue. For now.
Still. I’ll be happy when her brain catches up with her body and rationality and cooperation prevail again.