An equal and opposite reaction

By Mir
April 22, 2008

Mom. MOOOOOOOOOM! Did you write a mushy post about me? REALLY? DID YOU? Because 10 is not interested in your mushy-gooshy love. How EMBARRASSING.

Why are you always embarrassing me?? GOD.

Clearly we need to go over the rules again. And just to drive the point home, allow me to follow The Weekend Of All Things For The Child with some pointed behavior to let you know that YOUR EFFORTS ARE NOT APPRECIATED. In fact, the harder you try to do something special for me, the greater my urge to stand in the middle of the kitchen and pee on the floor just to see the look on your face. Not that I would ever actually DO that, because I am FAR TOO OLD AND COOL to do something that gross. Instead I will indulge in the occasional tantrum or twelve because YOU MADE ME.

Let’s just get a few things straight around here, shall we? Try to listen, Mom, because YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME.

The Top 10 Rules for Mom to Interact With a 10-Year-Old

1) I am old enough to do everything myself.
1a) Unless I decide that I am not, in which case you will IMMEDIATELY do my bidding EXACTLY as ordered. Failure to comply will result in huffing and eye-rolling.
1b) The audacity to suggest that I’m capable of doing it on my own will result in indignant shrieking and accusations that you don’t love me.

2) I am young enough that you should still do everything for me.
2a) Unless I want to do it myself, in which case, GOD, YOU TREAT ME LIKE A BABY!
2b) The audacity to suggest that I’m capable of doing it on my own will resist in indignant shrieking and accusations that you don’t love me.

3) My younger sibling is a boil on my tender behind and you should dispose of him immediately.
3a) Any action I take against him is completely necessary and justified. Sanctions against these actions are clear evidence that you love him more than me.
3b) Reasoned arguments as to why I should treat him with kindness are further evidence of your stupidity.
3c) Failure to recognize my superiority over him by ANY and ALL family members will be treated as declarations of war.

4) I should be allowed to participate in as many extra-curricular activities as I deem necessary.
4a) You shall drive me to and fro without complaint.
4b) Except when I don’t feel like going. Then you should allow me to opt out without comment. Reminding me of “responsibility” and “commitment” will be taken as evidence that you never really loved me.
4c) Refusal to comply with my every request shall result in tantrums akin to those you haven’t seen since I was 2. Get used to it.
4d) Removing me from an activity for noncompliance with these rules you’re always yammering on about is proof that you’re a big fat meanie.

5) I shall be allowed to play with friends whenever I feel like it.
5a) Grounded? WHAT? WHY?? No, I mean really, ASIDE from all of those reasons???
5b) FINE. I didn’t want to go play, anyway. I will just SIT HERE IN MY ROOM and DIE.
5c) You’ll be sorry when I’m dead. I MEAN IT.

6) Whatever you’re making for dinner, I DON’T WANT IT.
6a) Just because I’m eating it doesn’t mean I like it. I don’t. I hate it.
6b) Take-out every night would be preferable. Except when I want you to cook. And when we get take-out will be one of those nights I wished you cooked. You get the idea.

7) I will be a perfect angel at school. Teachers will praise both my work and my behavior.
7a) Negative behavior will be stored up and brought home in my backpack. Which I will probably leave in the middle of the floor. And then I will scream and cry when you tell me to put it away. Because my life is HARD.
7b) If I am mad at a friend, I will take it out on you. If I am mad at a teacher, I will take it out on you. If I am mad at my father, I will take it out on you. Pretty much I am planning to take out everything on you. You will take it and not get mad.
7c) If you DO finally get mad, I will cry and cry about how you don’t love me anymore.

8) Any attempt to do something nice for me will result in five minutes of gratitude and three days of backlash.
8a) Pointing out that you did something for me and I thanked you by acting like a spoiled toddler will be grounds to extend said hissyfit and refuse to apologize, ever.
8b) Saying “I guess we just can’t do [insert activity here] anymore, if this is what happens” is proof that you never really cared about me at all, you monster.
8c) I am allowed a selective amnesia where all I can recall is all the times you made my life a living hell, and any of those nice things are just fantasies of yours, I guess. Whatever.

9) Screaming is the proper way to express my displeasure. Failing that, stomping is an acceptable alternative.
9a) Being given a consequence for communicating in my preferred manner is as unfair as tasking me with a solution to global warming. You are an ogre for even mentioning it.
9b) Telling me that I am too old to behave this way will invoke an even greater level of ire. DO NOT TRY TO TAME ME WITH LOGIC, WOMAN.

10) It’s your fault. Whatever it is. Just accept it.


  1. Heather Bady

    My daughter turns 10 Saturday and I had to laugh at this to keep from crying. Its all soo true! At least I can keep telling myself she’s normal…all 10 year olds act like this. Kinda makes you wonder how we have so many adults :) ha. I kept waiting to see my daughter’s favorite expression on your list. Do you get the “I forgot” alot. This one makes me so mad…its not like her day to day routine changes constantly.

  2. Dina

    Oh my GOSH are you sure that’s not FIVE? I have a daughter that sounds just like this already. I am VERY VERY afraid for my future now. I need to print this out and keep it on the refrigerator at home for reference.

  3. Leandra

    Okay, so when Punkin turns 10, I can drop her off at your house, right? I mean, cause you’ll be an expert at that point, right? It will be old hat by that time. And Chickie will be…let’s see…18! She should be a breeze by that time. Let me know if this works for you.

  4. MomCat

    Alternative title: The Joy of Hormones

  5. Dani

    I’m glad I have boys. ::snicker:

  6. Em

    I knew Chickadee would get a blog!

    Actually during this whole post, there was one line from the song “If I Had a Million Dollars” ringing in my head: “This is me in grade nine, baby. This is me in grade nine.” Actually, this was probably me in grades 5-12.

    I’m passing this post along to my husband as a warning. We only have 4 more years to go.

  7. Mama Bear

    You forgot the biggest ones: NO ONE loves me and why does EVERYONE hate me at school? (Said after being sent to a time out for your choice of misbehavior, in an attempt to induce pity for oneself.)

  8. Linda

    That sounds exactly like my weekend we had with my 9 year old. All of a sudden everything is our fault and she is blameless and when we point out things that we aren’t happy about we’re just trying to make her feel guilty. HMPFFF

  9. All Adither

    Oh dear. This is brilliant.

  10. Katie

    Ugh, I have 9 year old twin girls and it’s hell. Asking them to put something of theirs away is such awful torture that it should be outlawed by the Geneva Convention. And I hear “I forgot” a lot. I’m about to start forgetting to buy them pudding cups and be their Girl Scout troop leader. Can we skip ahead to oh, age 22 when they like me again?

  11. BooMom

    Oh, dear god – I’ve seen my future and I.DON’T.WANT.IT!!

  12. Cheryl

    Please tell me it’s easier with boys!

  13. Aimee

    Well, I think if you, yourself, went wilfully insane you’d feel a lot better about the whole thing. Have you considered that option?

  14. Jean

    Ugh, I have a four year old boy who tells me “Stop telling me what to do”…I’m so screwed when he gets older. ***Sigh***

  15. Lucinda

    Ok now I’m very very scared. I just spent last night with my 6 year old screaming and hitting me because I suggested she take one tiny bite of her soup and actually eat her other food before getting seconds of the one thing she did like. When she was sent to her room, I had to CARRY her screaming and kicking because she didn’t want to go and she didn’t want to stay. I haven’t had to do that since her brother was 2. And now it gets worse at 10? (And no, my daughter is not normally a screaming, kicking child. She’s very sweet and caring but lord help her, she has my temper).

  16. Lori

    Oh my goodness – Chickadee sounds just like my little darling, and mine is only seven. She’s been like this for a while, too. Before heading to nursery school one morning when she was only four, she told me, “You’re making my life miserable!!” (I must have done something terrible like make her brush her hair or something.) I bit my tongue to keep from responding, “And you have no idea what you’re doing to mine.” It’s good to know I’m not the only one in this position! I’ve heard that it gets easier when they turn 18, and I pray that is true.

  17. jennielynn

    My mother used to roll her eyes at me and say, “Someday, you will have a daughter just like you and I will LAUGH my head off!” And I did. And she does. The circle of life, my friend. The f*&#ing circle of life.

  18. Patricia

    I so remember doing this to my parents. The very act of them taking in air was HORRIBLE. Oh, the drama I created. I think I need to call my mom and tell her I’m sorry — if I do it daily from here on out, I’m sure I’ll finally catch up for my teen years.

    I’m going to be forced to research boarding schools now.

  19. Laura

    Wow. That sounds awesome. I have a 15 year old boy who is pretty laid back and never really went through that stage, but my 8 year old daughter… I can see it coming.

  20. Tammy

    ROFLOL. I empathize with your situation Mir. But I am UTTERLY GREATFUL that I have boys. Except for the holes in their pants. And my furniture and walls. ;)

  21. Mom24

    Ummm…I’m sorry. I hope things get better soon. I’m sure it’s as hard on her as it is on you, but I’m also sure that doesn’t help a whole heck of a lot. At least you can give this to her when her daughter is 10! (((Hugs)))

  22. Lori

    How did you end up with the instruction manual for MY child? Come to think of it, how did you end up with the instruction manual for ANY child? Did I miss the handout at the hospital?

    Oh, can you read ahead and let me know how it ends? Does my daughter actually live past 8? :) Do I lose my mind from talking to myself and lose my tongue from biting it so much so that I become the mute lady banging her head on the wall in the corner?

  23. Astrogirl

    You know, the funny thing was, when I found out i was having a boy, I was SOOOOO upset – I wanted a cute little girl I could dress up in pretty clothes! What was I going to do with a boy?

    And then I spent an August afternoon at an amusement park with three pre-teen girls, and Oh my Lord I was so happy to be having a boy.

    And now, when I try to get the Bunker Monkey to do anything (usually something HIDEOUSLY AWFUL like eating his lunch or taking his bath), I get “You can’t make me,” and, “Go away!” and, “Whatever!” I would like to find the person that he picked THAT little gem up from. Find them and hurt them. So no, it’s not any easier with boys, dang it all.

    Oh, and our response to, “You’re mean!” is now, “That’s my job!” Is it wrong that I get some measure of evil joy out of saying that?


  24. Ashley

    Oh my gosh!!! My 5 year old acts like that already! This is making me very afraid. lol. The sad part is, I also have a 4 year old and a 2 year old and they are all girls and they both act like their sister. Please pray for me!!
    Do you get that stomp off to the room, slam the door, everybody just everybody hates her and she will never be the same again? Or the I have nothing to wear even though all her clothes are clean and she just went shopping the weekend before? I am telling you, the actual teenage years are going to kill me, or at least make wish I was dead.

  25. tori

    Can you send my daughter back home now? Oh, you are talking about yours? My mistake.

  26. RuthWells

    Sounds like Mommy needs tequila. If I were closer, I’d bring the limes.

  27. themuttprincess

    It doesn’t get any easier at age 11 and age 12.

    If I have learned anything it is I AM ALWAYS WRONG according to my son. I am working on retraining that thought (and all other ones like it… and I have been working on this for 2 years!!!).

  28. mamalang

    Uhm, yeah, living this hell every day. But since she is the second, she gets a lot less response. Now it’s just, Tough luck on you chicky.

  29. Jamie AZ

    DO NOT TRY TO TAME ME WITH LOGIC, WOMAN. -So true, so true! I feel like my nearly-7 or 4 year old could have written this, too… Ah, the joys of parenthood.

  30. Vane

    Oh … do you mean to tell me that the little glimpses of this kind of behaviour I’ve been seen on my daughter lately are not due to the fact that she has a broken elbow and is kind of frustrated from missing the rest of the cheerleading season?

    No? Really? … I’m scared now …

  31. Flea

    My older children – male and female – never really went through this. Ten year old boy? Oh. My. Word. Yes. But from the age of five. He’s finally beginning to outgrow it. Did I say outgrow? He’s getting better, at any rate. About the time dad really started taking interest, he amped up. Once dad proved it was real and long term interest, it started to dissipate. Kids are just weird.

  32. annie

    Oh yes, I recognize this! Especially #7 and #10…
    I always felt that some of this WAS my fault for divorcing her father. And NOW I learn this is actually normal girl behavior? Just peachy. Seriously though: Mir, you’re great!

  33. Melissa

    If this is the future, can I opt out now? I’m pretty sure I did this. I’m so sorry, Mom…

  34. jen

    You know, I’d leave a snarky comment about how happy I am that I don’t have girls…except I get several of these from my 7 year old son. Yeah. Life’s good. ;)

  35. the planet of janet

    thank GOD we have passed 10 in our house for the last time.

    although … uh… teenagers? well. the rules of teenage girls are similar, except for they usually are not really willing to speak to you AT ALL.

    sometimes it’s better that way. ;-)

  36. Otto

    You know, I would have liked to have seen this a year or so ago. Not that it wouldn’t have changed anything, but I might have prepared differently.

    You know, ear plugs, safety glasses …


  37. E

    Jeez, I only wish I didn’t know what you were referring to!

    And based on my own experience (and that of some of the other commenters,) I think you can just call this Top 10 Rules for Mom to Interact With A GIRL. My girl is only seven and I am dealing with the exact same things. You seem to explain it a little more eloquently than I, however. I just look at my husband and growl. A lot.

  38. Sheila

    I feel you, Mir. Yes I do. Right down to my every last weary brain cell, I feel you.

    Oh, and what I said a few days ago about wanting to freeze time, keep my baby a baby? Crap. All of it. Bring on the next decade, I say. At least she’ll be out of the house at the end of it.

  39. Erin

    Oh man…I’m 28 and don’t have kids, and was reading along going, “Oh boy…this is what it will be like when we have a ten-year-old” and chuckling and cringing in equal measure. I’m also far enough removed from being 10, that I wasn’t really recalling feeling like this.

    Then I got to 8b, wherein you reference the parental response of, “Well, then, I guess we can’t do [insert activity here] anymore, if this is what happens” and I was IMMEDIATELY transported back to being Chickadee’s age. I SO CLEARLY remember my mom saying that to me, and the horrible indignation I felt when she said it. “MOOOOM, you DON’T GET IT! You NEVER DO!” And more than anything, I remember feeling so confused by my behavior–why was I saying this? Why was I acting this way? I had no idea, and the only solution was to continue to freak out and throw tantrums.

    Ohhhh…it’s so hard being a pre-teen.

  40. Lisa

    And I expect you are compiling this, along with your other brilliant posts to make the Parenting Manual According to Mir. I’m on the tail end of this and it just makes me laugh and laugh…and thank God I survived it with some wits left. But I will be printing this to see if anyone recognizes themselves. I’m sure they won’t. Oh no, not them.

  41. Jen M

    {{{hugs Mir}}} I am so glad I have 2 BOYS!

  42. Niki

    Sometimes the very best answer is, “Yep, you’re right.” And leave it at that, and let her wonder. As a mom of 17 yo and 12 yo girls, I will tell you that you have lots more of this to look forward to. It does get better, really it does, but usually it gets worse first. Just enjoy those brief glimpses when she’s nice and lovable – they will help you get through the rest.

  43. Carrie

    So this is what I have to look forward to in 2 years? Oh god! And not long after that her sister will probably be there too… I guess I’d better invest in earplugs and a cup!

  44. Crisanne

    I’m with Lisa-I’m wondering when the book is coming out.

    Seriously though, I’m so thankful that you are willing to share the rough times so that all the other moms (esp. those who have dealt with divorce and such) can read and see it isn’t that they didn’t love enough. It’s the age-too many feelings, too much understanding, in too short a time, and not enough maturity to sort it out rationally.

  45. The Other Leanne

    I’d love to add to the comments, but I have to go write a Big Letter of Apology to my mother. Right. Now.

  46. Beth

    Otto’s response is great! Glad to know that it wouldn’t have changed anything. Besides buying earplugs and safety glasses, you should also buy stock in Kleenex. After the really great anger stage, then comes the emotional stage. My dad still swears he could make money off that stock just because there will always be teenage girls.

    Mir, thanks for reminding me why I’d rather have boys. I know they have attitudes too, but MAN — testosterone is easier to deal with than estrogen. At least in our world it is. Of course, my son is only 2…but he’s already got more sense of humor than the 14 year old step-daughter.

    I flip-flop on what I want kiddo #2 to be…but on days like this I am all for BOYS BOYS and ONLY BOYS in my house.

  47. Headless Mom

    I think you live in my house-except the 10yo girl is actually my 8yo boy. You’re not fooling anyone.

  48. Heather Cook

    Oh my gosh, this is awesome.

    So much to look forward to. ;0)

  49. Sasha

    Sounds like my 8 year old.

  50. Megan

    Erm. Not to be a Debbie Downer or anything but my 15 YEAR OLD did the stomp, the extended thwacking things out of temper AND the almost-but-not-quite door slam (because it knows what I will do if that door is slammed). Why? Because I was RUDE and asked it to do the thing it was supposed to do two days ago when it wanted to SAY SOMETHING and I NEVER LISTEN. Which is rude. Fortunately it’s a flash-in-the-pan type and it was all over quite soon. Also fortunately it’s old enough that when the temper is well and truly over I can point out it’s being irrational and kinda annoying and really, really rude (!!) and it actually listens. And apologizes. So it does get better – just very veeeeeery slowly!

  51. ImpostorMom

    Oh geez, please tell me boys are easier.

  52. BethR

    Our morning started with five-year-old SS having a silent hissy fit on the couch. It turned out that his toast was not at the precisely optimal level of brownness. And instead of just telling us that like a normal person, he’s got to sulk and cry and writhe for ten minutes because WE’RE TRYING TO FORCE HIM TO EAT BURNT TOAST.

    Life is just hard all over.

  53. Beth

    I started to read this post… didn’t even get to rule #2, and ran to send the link to my mom saying: you must read this! And I’m sorry!

    I remember bits and pieces of this age. How did any of us get through alive? If I were my mom, I would have eaten me with a nice chianti!

  54. Kirsetin

    Oh, thank you, thank you for your lovely words that reassure all of us that this INSANE behavior is normal. My son hit it full-on at eleven, and I was totally caught off guard. Stunned, in fact. I know, I know, I should have read more parenting books.

  55. Sports Mama

    Huh. Who would’ve guessed that 10 year old girls so closely resemble 10 year old boys? Because this list? Almost identical to one my youngest son could make.

    Well, except for #3. You’d really need to substitute OLDER sibling.

    But still….. :)

  56. Sue

    Slightly different verbiage, but the 10-year old BOY in my house sounds just like this. And I have researched the boarding school option. Most don’t start until 7th grade.

  57. TEOM

    I’d say that just about covers it.

  58. Daisy

    I teach 9 and 10 year olds. This makes me glad I’m no longer raising one! Well, 21 and 16 have their charms, I must admit.

  59. Angel

    When my kids get ridiculously dramatic, lately I calmly say, “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

    Typically that is met with confusion or a less excited run through of it all again, occasionally they just simmer down and move along, but either way, the yelling stops! LOL

  60. Noelle

    You know a good crack (insert body part here) now and then works wonders.

  61. Krisco

    Oh great. Just when I thought 3 was hard. (5 has been kind of a dream.) 10 looks miserable! I don’t think I was that difficult way until 12! But it sure lasted a while!

  62. David

    Wow, kids really say and do stuff like that? *makes big innocent eyes then laughs while ducking for cover*

  63. LiteralDan

    Man, I am not looking forward to this. But you know what, it still beats changing diapers and not being able to yell at a baby keeping you awake all night.

    Good luck to you in continuing to not kill her, and good luck to her in continuing to live another day!

  64. mike golch

    a witty and funny comment I do not have.I wish id did.

  65. Mamabear

    Ahhh yes……my daughter at 10 was the exact replica of Chickie. And now, that we have lived through that all I have to say is just wait until she turns 13!!!!!!!!!!

    (This is why I drink.)

  66. Woman with Kids

    And when they hit 13, like Boy 1? Same as above, except whole thing is in all caps because TEENAGE BOYS ARE ANGRY AND YELL.

  67. April

    Oh, man! And I thought it was just me! Thank you for this.

  68. Fold My Laundry Please

    Hormones are spooooky! I’m just glad my two girls are still little (2 and 7 months). But I can tell already I’m in for a rough haul!

  69. Little Bird

    It sounds like she, like every little girl ever, just doesn’t understand why no one else can understand that she is the coolest and most important thing to happen to the world. I hate to tell you that she may be like this for a while, I don’t know that I am completely out of this stage myself.

  70. Nancy

    I loved Otto’s comment. “Ear plugs and protective eye wear.”

    I have two girls–3 and 2. I think I shall run to the hardware store tomorrow–just to be safe.

  71. tuney

    A fellow teacher calls this “HOF.”

    Hormones On Foot.

    *saying prayers over your whole house and hiding the pea soup just in case*

  72. Karen (from Our Deer Baby)

    {{{ HUGS }}}

    Parenthood mantra ‘This will pass, this will pass, this too will pass!’

    Karen ^^

  73. Robin

    Oh my, can I empathize. My daughter just turned 11 last Saturday, and I had her sit down and read this last night. She cracked up, and agreed that this sounded like her. Maybe it will make her think a little next time she loses it!

  74. clickmichelle

    Boys… it’s slightly different, but the general premise is the same. they don’t come out with the “You don’t love me” stuff, but you pay in other ways. I have all boys. My teens (16 and 15) are past this, thank goodness. The 18 year old legal adult brat is still stuck here. And the 8 year old, oh yes, here we go.

    “This too, shall pass.” Just 10 more years… then I can travel and be carefree and they can talk amongst themselves about how senile I’m getting.

  75. Lylah

    I am printing this out and putting it on the wall near my computer at home because IT IS SO TRUE.

  76. Amy-Go

    Um, pardon me…I have to go call my mom and apologize for my entire childhood. Be right back.

  77. creative-type dad


    (kitchen, Pee on the floor!?)

  78. Shalee

    I am hereby thanking my lucky stars that we’re at 11 with The Girl and these haven’t happened yet… She’s probably saving it up until she’s 16.

  79. No Doi

    I was exactly the same way when I was Chickadee’s age. I’m ashamed to say that it took me a looooong time to grow out of it. I’ve no doubt that karma will kick me in the patooty with my own daughter some day. All I can say is that nowadays, my Momma is one of my favorite people on the planet, and I would not have made it through those difficult years without her ridiculous amounts of love and grace. You are a good Momma. You and Chickie will survive it.

  80. genny

    My daughter is almost this age… thanks for the peek at what I have to look forward to. I like your blog!

  81. Rita

    Yup, that’s about right. My almost 10 year olds favorite tactic. “I’m just going to go to my room and DIE” (stage direction: Tears streaming down cheeks, looking as pitiful as possible, with palpable rage directed at offending parent).

  82. carson

    I was told that I *always* ruin *everything*. Oh, the humanity.

  83. Carolyn E

    I was going to smugly say that my daughter won’t be like this, but then I remembered just 5 hours ago, she complained that I “just don’t get it.”

    Still, it’s not going to happen to us. We’ll be different. I will let my driver’s license expire and decline all tea party invitations for 4 years. That should do it.

    It’ll be different for us.

    It will.

  84. Denise

    …and then one day she’s 29 and planning her wedding. You make suggestions, i.e with trepidation, because it is after all her wedding, and her comment is “Mom, suggest away because we’re a team in this”…it makes those years from age 10-15 (sorry,but that’s about how long HOF will last) so very worth it! Hang in there.

  85. Kori

    I have four, varying ages, and I haven’t yet found the age that doesn’t do this. Really. But boys between 8 and 11 are the worst. Until they hit 14. Then you are the devil again. And my daughter? I might as well emancipate her now at 15 because clearly, I know nothing.

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