Love can’t keep up

By Mir
October 15, 2009

Wednesdays are my busiest day, because I suck at planning and I always have eleventy million things I must do and go to and monitor ON THAT DAY, and no, they can’t be moved to a different day. Um. Yay, me? No. The point is that I tend to be harried and cranky and lots of other less-than-flattering adjectives on Wednesdays, and also, I would really like it if Otto would cook on Wednesdays, but often it just doesn’t work out that way.

So last night, we’d all just gotten home from various destinations, and I was TRYING to finish up cooking dinner, but really all I was thinking about was the mountain of work I had yet to complete AFTER dinner, and I was trying to get Monkey to sit down and finish his homework, and I was pouring potatoes and hot water into a colander and trying not to splash/burn myself, and Chickadee started telling me about something that happened at school.

And I blew it, because I’m a mom and that’s what I do. Those of you with a tween girl know this particular Game of Losing, but I am still adjusting to it and it still stings.

See, I thought I was being very calm and thoughtful when I interrupted her to say, “Honey, I really want to pay attention to what you’re saying, and I can’t just this second, so can you give me a few minutes to finish getting this done and THEN could you tell me, when I can really listen?”

But apparently what she heard was, “Who cares? You’re stupid and I hate you. Also you are grounded and your hair is ugly.”

At least, that’s what I’m forced to conclude, based upon the screaming, stomping, huffy response I received.

And I’ll be perfectly honest—I am prone to LESS thoughtful and MUCH LESS calm pronouncements than the one which had provoked her ire. Yeah, I’ve snapped, “Can’t you see I’m busy here?” or “I cannot listen to you right now!” I’d been really proud of myself for communicating exactly what I’d meant: That I really did want to hear her, and so if she could just hold that thought for a minute, I would be delighted to give her my full attention.

But it made her mad. (In case you are keeping score, I make her mad approximately 97 times a day.)

The good news about adolescence is that it seems to be something of an exercise in Short Attention Span Theater; by the time I’d passed the salt after we’d said grace and started eating, all was forgiven.

I can’t remember how it came up, but we were talking about school and I asked Chickadee if kids in the 6th grade date. She said they do, and so I swallowed the nausea building in my throat and asked her what that actually MEANS. To my great relief, “dating” in middle school today appears not to have changed much since my youth; two people declare themselves to be boyfriend and girlfriend and… that’s it. Maybe—if it’s really serious—they hold hands, sometimes. No one actually GOES anywhere or DOES anything. Thank God.

So I reminded her that she was not going to be allowed to date anyone at her age, and she recoiled from the mere suggestion and assured me that she intended to do no such thing. (Phew.) Then, of course, I said that I thought little crushes were fine, you know, healthy and normal. She nodded.

Monkey volunteered which girl has a crush on him, and we talked about that for a while. (Poor Monkey! Such an accidental ladies’ man!) Then I turned back to Chickadee and said, “So, who do you have a crush on these days?”

She looked up from her mashed potatoes to find all three of us staring at her. Pleasantly, I think. But still.

“No one,” she huffed, pushing food around on her plate.

“Oh, there’s someone,” I said, because if she’s going to be mad at me 97 times a day, I think it’s my duty to actually give her a reason to be mad, occasionally. “I wonder who it is! Why don’t you just tell me?”

“There’s no one,” she said, eyes narrowing, the food-pushing becoming more of a stabbing motion.

Otto and I smiled at each other across the table.

“I think it’s… Joe!” I said, with a huge grin. Joe is a great kid. He’s in a lot of her classes. And he’s also not someone she’ll ever have a crush on. (Don’t ask me to explain how I know that, other than the standard sage mama, “I just know.”)

Chickadee sighed loudly. “I DO NOT HAVE A CRUSH ON JOE. Don’t be stupid.”

“Okay, then,” I said. “Not Joe. I wonder who it is.”

“It’s NO ONE,” she barked. “I don’t have a crush on anyone.”

“You can tell me!” I said. “I won’t tell anyone!”

Chickadee rolled her eyes and pushed back from the table. “THERE. IS. NO. ONE. And even if there was, HELLO!” She gestured to Otto and Monkey, both sitting transfixed by this entertainment.

“Oh,” I said, feigning sadness. “There’s no one?” She shook her head. “Otto? Does she look a little red to you? Like… maybe she’s blushing?”

Otto cocked his head and studied her. “Yeah,” he said. “She does look a little flushed.”

“NO I’M NOT,” she protested.

“I’m pretty sure that’s some blushing, right there,” I said to Otto. “Her cheeks ARE red. What else would cause that?”

Chickadee looked at me, then at Otto. In one fell swoop she grabbed up her fork, licked the tines clean, and flipped it around so that she was holding it backwards. And then…

… she started poking her cheeks with with the business end of it. While shouting, “Oh! My cheeks are red! I WONDER WHY!”

We couldn’t stop laughing. And the harder we laughed, the more she poked. And finally I had to sputter out that she had to stop, she was really going to hurt herself, and after a while we settled down and everyone had some more to eat and the moment passed, though I did manage to extract a promise from her that she’d “tell me later.”

After dinner, Chickadee did some training stuff with the dog and asked me to show her the hand signal for “all done,” which is a little baby-jazz-hands thing to display the empty palms (translation: you ate it all, dude), so I showed her, and in very short order she’d converted it into not only GIANT JAZZ HANDS but a facial expression that led us to conclude she’d successfully converted the “You ate it all, dude” message into “Zombies are coming to eat your brains,” and there was more laughing (not to mention a very confused dog) and by the time it ended, my face hurt.

Of course, then I had the audacity to suggest that she go practice her flute. And then, further, I had the gall to send her brother to practice piano at the same time, which was somehow untenable even though there are, you know, multiple rooms in our house. So she was mad at me all over again.

And so when it was time for bed she came into my office and flounced her way into a sulk on my couch. I ignored her. After a couple of minutes she said, “Well don’t you want to know who it is??”

(She sure showed me!)

In the end, I did learn the Sooper Seekrit Name, and was also given confirmation that—as with any good crush—she never actually SPEAKS with this boy, so it’s all good.

Chickadee sat on my lap and I noted that she still had tiny little fork marks on her cheeks, and we laughed together, and I sent her up to bed as quick as I could, so that I couldn’t make her mad again before she got there.

Happy Love Thursday, everyone. The emotional whiplash of this parenting gig is painful, I’m not going to deny it. But sometimes it hurts so good, y’know?


  1. Half Assed Kitchen

    And your hair is ugly! The ultimate insult.

  2. Aimee

    Oh my goodness! I can’t believe she started poking herself with THE BUSINESS END OF A FORK just to prove a point! That is one determined young lady you’ve got there. Um… good luck?

  3. Susan

    “Emotional whiplash of this parenting gig”: No truer words have ever been written!

  4. Jennifer

    Bless Love Thursday…having a suck-tastic week and I think I’ll make it through now. Thank you!

  5. Sara

    **crossing myself, thankful I only have boys**

    Good Luck!

  6. Randi

    AWWW! It’s only cute when they’re that age, however – in a few years it wont’ be cute anymore! My cousin’s daughter is in high school and is on her SECOND boyfriend since the start of school (she’s a Freshman) – and yes, she assured me, they’ve KISSED.

    I’m not old enough for this!

  7. Anna Marie

    Monkey is an accidental ladies’ man because he has BEEYOOTIFUL hair.

  8. Megan

    Ah. Memories. Although mine were less with the flouncing/ huffing and more with the drooping/dying-swanning. I so remember walking happily through the day and all was sunshine and light and then WHAM! The tears! The sadness! The fact that all was lost and would never be found, that they were So Very Awful and Would Never be Right! And yes, gnat-brained little loves were all smiles again five minutes later. It’s the micro-weather of teenage girls.

    Now I just have the fun of trying, for the first time in my life ever, EVER, to live in a male-dominant household. Testosterone gets a weeeee bit thick now and then and I have to gasp, ‘poetry! And Jane Austen! And Cucumber sandwiches with no crusts on!’ just to cut through the fog of belching contests and rival super-cars.

  9. Katie in MA

    My girls are two years apart. They will both be in this stage at the SAME TIME. I don’t know why it took me so long to realize it, but it just hit me. And now I am very afraid. At least I’ll have cute moments like this to keep looking forward to.

  10. Ariel

    I remember in the 4th grade Josh and Jennifer (last names withheld to protect the guilty, not that it matters 20 years later) Would MAKE OUT on the playground. And we were all completely disgusted (as we didn’t know tongues could do that) but we all watched in horrified fascination.
    This is one of my only memories of that time.

    I wonder if that’s why I was 18 before I kissed anyone?

  11. Nicki

    Oh, so familiar. In the last few years Rachel has pulled me aside for the Super Seekrit Conference on any number of things. My all time favorite is still the one following her health class where the boys and girls go watch separate movies about puberty. Yeah. Imagine her dismay at discovering that she would be having a period EVERY month once she started. That took the rush off things.

    And apparently I’m doing something wrong. I only tick Rachel off a few times a day…usually in sentences that involve the words ‘clean’ or ‘pick up.’

  12. Niki

    I remember walking into my parents’ house one day and asking my then 12-year old sister how her day was. She jumped up, yelled “How can you say that to me?” and ran off to her room and slammed the door. Oh, it was so much fun.

    I also may have suggested to my 19-year old that her best friend (a boy) would be someone really nice to date. Her answer – “Ewwww. Never in a million years!”

  13. kath

    Wow,she’s a tough little chicky …. I would have flounced away as soon as I noticed everyone was staring at me …. but then I’m 49 and flouncy and immature like that.
    Happy Love Thursday Mir …

  14. StephLove

    I think we are headed straight to where you are in 8 years. My daughter’s only 3.5, but I can tell.

  15. meghann

    As a musician, I have to say Chickadee being upset over Monkey practicing piano while she practices flute is well founded. Even in different rooms, it’s hard to practice when someone else is. It’s very distracting.

    Oh, and if she turns out to truly be a musician, the moodiness? Is here to stay baby.

  16. Heather

    I have a daughter in 6th grade also. She will be 12 in April. My mother wants me to take her to the doctor because surely her behavior cannot be normal! I’m just praying it doesn’t get worse…

  17. MomCat

    “Go take a shower” is also teenspeak for “Your hair is ugly.” Though I don’t have to even speak to make mine mad nowadays. Just existing is often enough. I’ve heard age fifteen is the worst year for girls. (Any advice on that one? Anyone? Or shall I submit my one year application to the Peace Corps now?)

  18. Dawn

    Gah. The emotional roller coaster that is adolescence. And that’s just the parents.

    They do regain their sanity. Eventually. Long after you’ve lost yours, but hey! you weren’t using it anyway. Were you?

  19. aem2

    I’m wiping the tears of laughter away — this brings back such memories. My friends had elaborate acronyms for our don’t-you-DARE-call-them-crushes. I was huff-meisterin and flouncer-in-chief (with a few stomps thrown in for emphasis), and I had two older brothers who took much advantage of that. How smart of Chickie not to give the males in the family any more ammunition.

  20. Laura

    Hey….I ran across your blog on the CrockPot 365 blog. And I love it! We are campers as well. :)

    This might be a strange question–but are the former “FT” Mir?

    If so–WOW–it’s good to ‘see’ you again!

    Laura (aka punkin)

  21. J from Ireland

    This is very much like how things are over here with my 12 yr old daughter. Its great that she is growing up and all that but Jaysus the sulks kill me!!

  22. Headless Mom

    Oh my goodness. Your Chickie and my HB#! are the.same.person. Make up snuggles and giggles are the best.

  23. Cele

    puts a whole new meaning to, “Forking mad!” BTW grammahood is really a loverly time of life.

  24. mama speak

    aem2–you just reminded me, my girlfriends & I used to “code” to indicate if a boy was crush/date worthy. Cuz there were “nice” boys (boys who we’d hang out w/but never date) and boys who would “mow the lawn”. Seeing that makes me realize how rude that sounds. It wasn’t. It just meant that you’d let him come to your house & meet your parents, or something along those lines.

    I have two girls ages 6 & 3, I would say we are on the fringe of this emotional whiplash w/the 6yo. I can hardly wait.

  25. Denise

    Mir–as frustrating as the Jekyll/Hyde period (as my husband termed it) with girls, the beauty of it is that they end up being your best friend when they’re grown! Hang in there!

    MomCat–my advice for year 15….wine, lots of wine!

  26. mythoughtsonthat

    “emotional whiplash”- so great, so true! Peace.

  27. Ashleigh Burroughs

    Emailed my mother, described my daughter’s latest egregious act of 12-year-old-ness in excruciating detail, and received this in reply: “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA !!!”

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