It is with some caution that I am blogging again. After all, when I started a bouncy, optimistic blog about my upcoming wedding, the wedding got cancelled (and to be honest, I’d run out of bouncy optimistic things to say a couple of months before that happened). When I blogged about my stepfamily through rose tinted glasses, my marriage collapsed (and although I didn’t actually see that coming at the time, with hindsight it was rather inevitable).
So I don’t think that this blog is going to become an upbeat story of life as the single parent of a teenage girl. It is with trepidation that I write anything at all about my relationship with my daughter, which is currently being reconfigured as we get used to living in a ‘small family’ again.
This child of mine does at times give me complete sense of humour failure, and so I’m going to have to leave the humour to Kathy Lette:
‘Teenagers are obviously God’s punishment for having sex in the first place…Living with a teenage daughter is like living with the Taliban. Mothers are not allowed to dance, sing, flirt, laugh loudly or wear short skirts.’
This is so true! These are the ego-shredding things I hear on a daily basis:
‘Please don’t sing, Mum.’
‘You really can’t dance. And what are you listening to?’
‘Er, Mum, are you actually going to go out like that? Will you walk a few paces behind me and my friend?’
Now I spend the majority of my spare time in the company of 12-year-old girls, I hear these things all the time. Yet I don’t actually feel that they are aimed just at mothers. They’re just as horrible to one another (except within their friendship groups; woe betide anyone who insults their bff…). Teenage girls’ egos are put through the mincer daily by just about everything in their environment. There are still a million insulting words for girls, including the word ‘girl’ – and these are the same words used to insult boys.
So, when I hear these things, it is with a sense of deja vu. I remember being a 12 year old girl. I remember how the choice of an outfit could actually be critical, how self conscious they all are, and how slavishly they all listen to the same sounds.
These things are all reinforced by celebrities who seem to remain in an eternal state of adolescence, or reality TV stars or whatever they’re watching now (*disclaimer – if my daughter ever reads this: I am not claiming to know anything at all about life nowadays. This is purely conjecture…)
With these thoughts in mind, I try to gather up my dignity when around these correctly-dressed girls. I tell myself that it’s hard being a teenager and I should be glad that I don’t have to be one any more. I keep telling myself this when I hear them rolling around on the floor, shrieking with laughter, while I am making dinner.
‘They’re having no fun at all,’ I remind myself, as I mop the floor.
I pour myself a glass of wine.
‘Can I have a sip?’ asks Daughter.
‘No!’ I snap ‘Alcohol is the reward you get for being an adult!’
Be the woman you want your daughter to become
I once wrote, and I’ve lived by it ever since.
I never got on with teetotallers, anyway.