I always thought teenagers were a joke; a cliché… I dunno. Based on memories of my own teenagerhood, I figured they were more surly than little kids, more independent, less interested in their parents’ ideas. “Whatever, mom.” Right???
In this household, saying a teenager is sometimes surly is like saying alcoholics sometimes slur their words. It is definitely true. But it is also definitely the tip of the iceberg, because in addition to the almost cute slurring thing, alcoholics lose control to the extent that they damage property, abuse family members and often destroy any semblance of peace in their lives.
There are more similarities than differences here.
Surly, it seems, is a good day. Like just a bit tipsy might be for an alcoholic.
A bad day is more like today. YM comes home late but docile, subdued from lack of eating (it’s Taanis Esther today, the fast before Purim), goes straight downstairs to lie down or fiddle with his Rubik’s Cube, or whatever.
Whereas the Other One did not. Not docile; not subdued. Angry because I couldn’t pick her up at school. Angry because she was hungry; because I suggested she wait a bit before eating. Because nobody in her class is fasting, apparently.
Kicking, screaming, breaking-up-naptime angry. I sent her outside for ten minutes to settle her down – it’s five minutes if the kiddies are awake, 10 if they’re sleeping. She was more or less settled until I realized she’d kicked and cracked my huge dough-making bucket which I need TODAY to make dough for shalach manos.
So I handed her a twenty and two bus tickets and sent her out to buy a new bucket.
I make it sound easy, because what it was was fifteen minutes of screaming and kicking and throwing stuff around. And I push her sometimes, gently, never hit, but I flinch when I have to go near her when she’s in this kind of a mood. I’m sure one of these days I’ll get hit – again.
If someone tells you constantly that you are worthless, that what you do doesn’t matter, that they hate you… and if they’re occasionally slamming things on you or kicking you or breaking your stuff… well, if it were anyone else, that would be called abuse. Even if they justify it by saying you provoked their rage. Even if they say sorry afterwards and tell you how much they love you and it will never happen again. (Or is it especially if they do that?)
If it is your teenage daughter, well, it’s just horrifying. And sad. Really, really sad. I am so sad because this feels like a broken relationship and it feels like I am getting beaten up, almost on a daily basis, and all I can do is hang in there and get through it the best I can.
… it’s now three hours later, and I’m much calmer. But exhausted. Up and down, up and down. Sure do feel pretty beat up most days. Meanwhile, we had a great supper together and Elisheva has volunteered to iron something I need for the shalach manos. So life is good…right?