By BERN MORLEY
Hey there 13 year old, WTF DID YOU COME FROM?
Look, it shouldn’t be a massive surprise. It’s not like I woke up a month ago and there was suddenly this teenager residing in my home that I hadn’t allowed for. The attitude isn’t new. It’s amplified, sure, but it’s certainly always been there. The moody, often irrational reaction to a normal question is however, quite the new development.
I would say a year ago that we had, at least 50% of the time, a typical 12 year old daughter. One that could and would accept without question, the request to put her dirty clothes in the laundry. One that understood that showers were something she participated in on a daily basis and that took ten to fifteen minutes, tops.
Now, well now the simple request to do either of these things can send her into an apocalyptic styled meltdown. It’s like this foreigner that looks EXACTLY like my daughter has taken up residence in her bedroom upstairs. Sure, there are still glimpses of the old Maddie and on occasions, I feel closer to her than I ever have, but to be honest, I am simply struggling to keep up.
So here are some of the tell-tale signs you have a newly minted teen in your midst…
1. THE HOUR OF SHOWER
This is exactly as it sounds. Maddie will decide, seemingly without rhyme or reason that she needs a shower right NOW. Right now, being around 11 o’clock at night.
She will then emerge from said shower, after much pounding on the door by myself to which there are retorts of “But I’m washing my HAIR!!” around midnight.
The only silver lining I take from this is that she is clean. Because her room certainly isn’t.
2. YOU ACQUIRE TONGS. AND THEY AREN’T USED FOR THE BBQ
No, seriously. If you think you are going to walk into your 13 year olds bedroom and not leave requiring a Tetnus shot, think AGAIN. Most of them are quite simply, filthy animals. For some unknown reason, it seems physically impossible for them to return dishes to the sink or remove last Tuesday’s underpants from the bedroom floor.
I suggest you invest in a pair of tongs and rubber gloves and at least once a week, go through that joint like you are on CSI. Sometimes the source of the putrid smell cannot be found or identified. You might also want to invest in a cockroach bomb.
3. YOU ARE IN A CONSTANT STATE OF CONFUSION
Only a 13 year old can make you feel like you’ve committed an atrocity because you have asked them how their day was. Get prepared for a whole lot of “FINE!” and “GOD, stop asking so many questions!” These irrational responses will blindside you as you are genuinely thinking you were being completely reasonable with this line of conversation.
4. EXCESSIVE EYE-ROLLING
Prepare thyself. The first time this ever happens it will enrage you. I guarantee you will be all “DID YOU JUST ROLL YOUR EYES AT ME YOUNG LADY?” and she’ll be all “NO!” But then it will become such a part of your day to day interaction you’ll no longer even see it. It is usually accompanied by the audible and over amplified sigh.
5. LOUNGE ERECTIONS
See, so far, I only have a 13 year old girl, but from what I understand, something similarly terrifying happens to young men around this time. One friend of mine that is mother to a 13 year old son, telling me that wet towels, dirty plates and lounge erections now can pretty much sum him up. I can only speculate but I doubt lounge erections are something to look forward to.
I know, kids are lazy by nature. Give me the chance and I’d do nothing too, but I can’t because I’m an ADULT.
And these guys are young adults, on the precipice of having to be responsible. Yet I’ve watched enough documentaries to understand that there is some kind of wiring in the brain that doesn’t kick in until they hit around 21, so it’s not actually their fault, its SCIENCE.
That it is perfectly reasonable to whinge that their shoes don’t fit them anymore yet they’ve failed to check if their sock is still shoved in there, thus preventing them from fitting.
Or that when their mother asks them to walk 50 metres to the local store to buy them bread to make THEM a sandwich, they find this unreasonable. Maddie said to me tonight, and I quote “I’m not lazy, I’m just unmotivated”. I…can’t…even…
7. DEATH BY CELEBRITY PERFUME
I can now recognise a Britney Spears fragrance at 50 paces and it makes me physically ill. Does she bathe in it? And it’s not just the girls, one friend telling me that her son was so proud of his Lynx deodorant that he kept the empty containers on his mantel like a trophy collection.
Yet it’s not all terrible.
There are glimmers of hope and she *is* a good kid.
Today for instance she asked me if we could get up extra early tomorrow because she wanted to get to school before her friend to decorate her locker for her birthday as a surprise.
This friend has had many ups and downs at home over the past year, so this to me shows that even if she can’t seem to show any kind of empathy or compassion towards her own brothers, she does have some in her.
The other light at the end of the tunnel is that we appear to have found a common ground of late. Grumpy Cat Memes. Well, more than that, we seem to have the exact same sense of humour and she has quite the quick wit. When she’s not being unreasonable for no good reason, we can spend hours in each other’s company.
I can only hope this is something that continues. I know it won’t be easy, I know the hardest parts are yet to come. I think I’ll do as so many of my experienced friends have advised me: Basically pretend I am riding the world’s scariest Rollercoaster, shut my eyes and hold on until it’s all over.
Can you relate?
Bern is a Gen X, child of the 80′s. Kept busy being a working mother of 3 children, one with Aspergers, renovating the original money pit and drinking too many coffees in the space of 24 hours. One day she’ll remember to leave the meat out for tea but until then she writes beautiful and amusing posts on her blog which you can find here.