Love languages, somewhat lost in translation

I meant to do another (final) installment of Otto Week, over the weekend, but I turned out to be too busy with my favorite boy-type people to get around to it. See, on Saturday Monkey came back, and on Sunday, Otto returned. Of course, Chickadee left on Saturday, so I still don’t have the entire family here, but that’s okay for right now.

Digression, except not really, because this is probably going to be kind of long: Are all 12-year-old girls sociopaths, or just mine? I’m asking for real. Because she’s positively charming and I cannot get enough of her and everything is super awesome right up until her head starts spinning around. So we had this really fun week right up until the couple of days before she left, whereupon she promptly morphed into Princess Gimme of Ungratefulville (population: JUST ONE, BITCHES), and I began counting down the minutes until her departure.

And the last time I wrote about this (though I can’t find it now, because I am lazy) I got a few SUPER HELPFUL comments about how my daughter only behaves disrespectfully because I let her, so needless to say, as I am still lacking in both powers of omnipotence and telekinesis, I guess I’m still “allowing” said poor behavior and should be mocked accordingly. Ahem.

ANYWAY. The end result was that the Little Tyrant and I found ourselves driving in to the Atlanta airport in complete silence; me, silent because if I opened my mouth I was going to say something VERY UNKIND, and her, silent because it takes an awful lot of energy to be the only person in the world who matters. I mean, I assume.

So we were about an hour into the drive when she muttered, “I’m sorry for being mean.”

And because I’m a bitch and also because a muttered apology doesn’t really impress me with its sincerity, I said, “What? I didn’t hear you.”

So she said it again, a little louder, but with even more OH MY GOD YOU ARE RUINING MY LIFE inflection, and all the things I wanted to say about how ungrateful and obnoxious she can be hung on the tip of my tongue while I considered how to respond. Eventually I said, “Okay. I don’t even know what else to say to you, anymore.”

We drove in silence for another fifteen minutes.

Finally I launched into a description of the philosophy of love languages, and explained to her that everyone expresses caring in different ways, and I happen to be an Acts of Service person. When I love you, I do things for you. And, admittedly, when I do things for you and you don’t express any appreciation, I tend to perhaps feel that more deeply as a snub than someone who loves in a different way might feel it. But nevertheless, perhaps we could count through the various acts of service I had bestowed upon her thankless behind over the last week, and maybe she could explain to me why I was now feeling so angry?

“Because you did all this nice stuff for me and I never said thank you,” she said, her voice low. “And I was obnoxious, I guess.” It was the “I guess” that really made me feel like she was finally getting it. Oh, wait. NO IT DIDN’T.

“Have a good week with your dad,” I said, trying very hard to keep my voice neutral. “Don’t bother calling. I think we could both use the break from each other.”

I kept driving, and noticed she was teary, but that was when Otto’s absence became a problem.

See, I was using the GPS to get to the airport, because I (almost) never drive to the airport, and also, I’m directionally challenged. And we were approaching the exit for the airport, finally, but my GPS was telling me to… drive past it. I frantically punched the screen to see the next few directions, trying to figure out what it wanted me to do. I concluded that I was probably better off following the GPS, which appeared to be taking me around the back, somehow. Less traffic, maybe? Fine, I would keep following its directions.

Bad move. Bad, bad move. And this is why Otto should never leave me to drive to the airport on my own. Ever. Because the GPS had apparently decided that when I said “take me to the Atlanta airport” what I REALLY meant was “I’d like to get horribly lost in the maze of construction back by the administration offices here that all have signs reading AUTHORIZED ENTRY ONLY.”


I finally managed to work my way around to the part of the airport where mere mortals are allowed to be, and we parked, and walked into the terminal, and promptly went the wrong way, and then we went the right way but some tiny, angry man refused to let us go to baggage claim, because clearly we wanted to go to Security, except no, I explained, we needed to meet someone at baggage claim, but NO, he would not let us go that way, so we retreated, finally, and found another way around, and finally met up with Monkey and my ex.

There was much hugging and rejoicing, and finally, my ex asked how Chickadee was doing, and I said, “She is positively rotten. GOOD LUCK!” So he looked at Chickadee and said, “Is that true?” and she shrugged.

“Pretty much,” she said.

So I left Chickadee and took Monkey and we drove home without incident, unless you count stopping at our favorite diner for lunch and him remarking that our waitress was creepy because her eyebrows were painted on. (He was right. She was a little creepy.)

We enjoyed a lazy rest-of-Saturday and then on Sunday I baked bread, bread I can no longer even eat, because my boys love bread and I love them, and it makes me happy to make them happy. The nice thing about these guys is that both of them are always so appreciative of anything I do, and I hardly ever find myself wanting to pinch their heads off. Ahhhhh.

I whipped up some other dishes, and made plans for some things I’ll make later this week. (Gluten-free sort-of pie, for example. Why not?) Otto returned and there was much rejoicing and a lot of eating and Mario Kart tournaments and it was all Very Good.

Late last night, my ex called to talk to Monkey. And then Monkey finished up and asked me to come to the phone, whereupon Chickadee said, “Hi!”

“Hello,” I said. And waited. And waited.

“I just… wanted to say hi.”

“Okay,” I said. “Having fun?”

“Yeah,” she said.

“Okay, well, thanks for calling.” We said our goodbyes. I hung up.

A minute later, the phone rang again. Her, again. I wondered if a day away had really been enough time to penetrate her crunchy, stubborn shell of self-involvement. Maybe we were about to have a breakthrough?

“Hello again,” I said.

“Hi,” she said. A pause. Then: “Can you read me off the number on my library card?”

“Can I… what?”

“I’m trying to log in from here to extend a hold on a book but I don’t have the number. Can you get it for me, please?”

I looked up at the ceiling. I counted to ten in my head. “Hang on,” I said. I walked into my office, found her card, and read her the number.

“Thank you, Mama,” she said. Slowly. With purpose.

“You’re welcome,” I said. For a few moments I held the phone as the silence stretched between us, feeling a strong urge to say something else, to indulge my knee-jerk reaction to MAKE WITH THE WORDS, but I held my tongue.

“Well… bye,” she said.

“Love you. Bye.”

I am, as you well know, prone to fits of WhatDoesItMeanItis, but in this particular case I told myself not to overthink it. Still, I couldn’t help wondering if there is a sixth, somewhat underexplored love language in the form of Push It To The Limit, the one where the person pushes you away as hard as possible right until you’re fantasizing about stabbing them with a fork, and then they toss you a crumb of appreciation and you decide to let them live.

I suppose that love language would actually be called Adolescence. Lord help me.


  1. Aimee

    Oh, man. Every time I read one of these adolescence posts, I realize what a PILL I was when I was that age. Sorry, everybody who knew me back then.

    And no, haters, my mother didn’t let me behave that way. That’s what adolescent girls DO.

  2. carolyn

    I can ease your mind a little. My now-17 year old daughter was a monster at Chickie’s age and it only got worse as she eased out of middle school and into high school. HOWEVER she has come back to herself and is less monster-ish as the days go by. She is headed into her senior year of high school and I can honestly say that I like her almost every day. My theory is that they are the worst to the ones they love the most because they know you will always love them regardless of how they act. So, don’t give up hope. She will turn back into the lovely Chickadee that you love all the time eventually. Just in time to leave for college, actually, but that is another story and I don’t want to talk about it now!

  3. Shelley

    I hate weighing in on these issues sometimes, because really truly, I’m not trying to give advice. It just ends up sounding like advice, when what I’m really trying to offer is insight. Food for thought. That’s all. Because I hate to see parents hurting.

    Credentials? Three daughters who are now safely past the age of 12 – although 13 may possibly be more difficult, I’ll let you know when we’re done. The rest of it is a combination of what I think, what I’ve read, what I’ve observed and what I’ve understood from thinking, reading, observing, etc. It’s just MY take on things, that’s all. Take what you like and leave the rest.

    I think 12, and the years surrounding it, are really hard for girls. They’re trying to figure out what kind of person they want to be and how who they want to be is going to fit in with the rest of the world. They’re trying to figure out their relationships with their friends, their acquaintances, the opposite sex, and their parents. They’re also trying to figure out what they can count on and who they can trust.

    Add in mitigating factors like hormones, medications (prednisone mood swings are a BITCH), and other external factors beyond their control, and it really can feel sometimes like your little darling is possessed by a bitch demon.

    So I think that sometimes, they need reminding, through words, acts, etc. that their parents really do love them no matter what. I also remember thinking that it was good that my kids felt safe and secure enough in their relationship with me that they didn’t hesitate to show me their worst as well as their best. Think about it – if they turn into the Queen of Mean with their bestie, then bestie might not stick around. But Mom? Mom will still love me next week, no matter how awful I am this week.

    Which means you’ve done an excellent job of making her feel safe and secure.

    I’m not suggesting that it’s ok to abuse Mom and the rest of the fam – but I think kids count on us to help them learn how to own their moods and upsets without making everyone else miserable.

    Just love her, tell her/show her often, don’t take the bitchiness personally, and this too shall pass.

  4. Headless Mom

    I have my own 12 yo girl, and HIS name is Headless Boy #1, and he’s 10.

  5. Kristine

    Mir,,,,,,,, Daughters are wonderful and awful at the same time. My daughter was the same to me during middle school and was escalted into high school. Oh the times that I had to walk away from her for fear I would say things that wiould really hurt even thought she was lashing out at me and tearing me up inside. This all passes and they evenutally become human again. Don’t get me wrong she still has the nasty side of her once and awhile but it is more palatable now than before. we can count the 30 days and know it is coming…..

    My only wish is for her to have a daughter some day – just like her :)

  6. Leandra

    Do you think her behavior could have started getting worse closer to her trip because she was having mixed emotions about her upcoming week (two?) away? I know that a lot of times people will act in anger to hide other emotions. (This is my Stephen Minister training coming out….)

    Hang in there. The time apart will probably do you both some good. :)

  7. MomCat

    I agree, that’s what adolescents are wired to do. Some days, it is only by looking at old baby pictures and remembering the sweetness that I don’t smother mine in her sleep. Hang in their, Mir, and remember it’s not your fault.

  8. elz

    Oh mama. How much do I love your play by play? So much-“Population One. Bitches.” So true.

    Have I told you yet that I once called my folks up when I was in college and apologized for generally being a tyrannical teen? I made both of them listen, said it once, meant it, and we were done. The sad part? I was a good kid, but man was I stubborn and persecuted and nevergottodoorsayonethingnonevernotonce. Woe was me!

  9. margie

    i will never forget sitting at the dinner table with the four children, daughter the oldest, around fifteen at the time, my late husband looked at me and said how does it feel to be a piece of sh*t? i looked at him like he was nuts and he said, “look around they are all looking at your like you are a piece of sh*t” we laughed our heads off. daughter stormed out of the room and said I’m leaving and we said, do you think we care? woo hoo. awful awful few years and now, don’t ask. best daughter ever.

  10. Glory Words

    Best advice I ever got about raising daughters was from a therapist who said that daughters lash out at the people they love most because it is a safe place to let loose their angst.

    Of course, the same therapist said having children was like having a bowling alley installed in your brain.


  11. paige

    I still say to people that having children is like having a circus in your head, 24 hours a day.

    Just a thought, but is Chickadee having her period yet? My daughter was mercurial starting around age 10. The year before her period, which started just after her twelfth birthday, she was a gold-plated bitch. It was…amazing. She was nice to her teachers and grandparents, even her dad. To her brothers and me, she was pure-D hell.

    Once her periods started, things calmed down considerably. She doesn’t even have bad PMS. I guess a whole year of hellish PMS gets most of it out of your system.

    I think the saying as little as possible technique is a good one. There’s less to rail against on the kid’s part. I know that worked well for us.

    And if someone wants to tell me that my children are indulged and that I precipitated the bad behavior, I have two things to say:

    1. I have 15+ years of classroom experience behind me, mostly with middle and high school age students. I have 18+ years of experience with my own children, who are lovely people but have had some very daunting challenges.

    2. You are welcome to live with the not-so-merry band of young adolescents and modify their behavior to show the rest of us idiot parents and teachers how it’s done. We’ll be by the pool, enjoying drinks with little umbrellas. Let us know how that works for you.

  12. Megan

    Heh. My darling, sweet, fantastic, moody, tightly-wound, beautiful daughter (now aged 18) recently came home for a visit, went up to her long-suffering siblings and said, “I’m really, really sorry. Just sorry. Really. And I love you.” and they looked at her and shrugged and went ‘m’okay – wanna go kick a soccer ball around?’ and I laughed at them all and then cried just a little. Because they were never that bad – not in retrospect. Not really.

    [spoken as someone who is NEARLY DONE with teenagers and has survived AND still likes them all. And will never, ever do anything like this again. Ever]

  13. Tracy

    I feel for you Mir. My daughter and I butted heads up until…well, she’s 22 now and we still sometimes butt heads. But at the end of the day, we know we wouldn’t have each other any other way and perhaps that is what Chickie meant/felt when she called for your help with the library card. Who knows…lol

  14. ~annie

    Just this weekend my own Critter (almost 19) and I had our own version of this. Finally she told me to “Stop caring so much already!” NOW she tells me…

  15. Niki

    You have gotten so much good advice, I don’t have much to add. Carolyn is completely right that they are awful to the ones they love, because they know it’s safe, and that you’ll love them anyway. But, you will get through 12. Then there is 15. Then they go off to college, and you think, “Surely this will get better now”, and for a while it does – then they turn 19. I’m still waiting for that time when they stop going off on me for the slightest thing – and I do see glimpses from time to time. Hang in there – and enjoy your little bit of time off!

  16. Mary Fran

    People who know me now never believe this, but I was a *horrible* teenager. I didn’t speak more than a mumble to my Dad from ages 14-17. Thankfully, I came out of it before I left for college, and my parents stuck through it. My daughter is 7 and is already in high drama form. Payback is a bitch and I’m well aware that I’m due. I just hope I come through alive on the other side.

  17. Em

    I remember hearing that before kids leave for college they become incorrigible because it makes it easier for them to leave. It is part of the tearing away. Maybe she was being a butt so it would be easier to go to her Dad’s for the week. I mean, that might explain THIS time. I will join the chorus of having been deserving of having my head pinched off as an adolescent so it might just be how really really kickass women are made. Who knows?

  18. Harriet M. Welsch

    Re: the sociopathic tendencies of adolescents, you may need to sit down and watch a few episodes of Katie Kaboom (from the late great cartoon series, The Animaniacs). Her head actually does spin around sometimes.

  19. Cammie

    I so feel your frustration because I also have a 12 year old daughter. One second she is the sweet funny caring child that I raised and the next she is some other creature! It is especially bad when she returns home from her weekend visits to her father’s house. The attitude, the tone of voice & the wild mood swings are driving me nuts. Sometimes I can’t help but think to myself “Man, will you just bleed already and get it over with??”. So I think this will be one extremely long summer lol.

  20. Suzie

    My older daughter is 13-going-on-14, and my younger daughter is just 12. I found with my oldest that late 12/early 13 sucked. Man, it sucked. But since then (since Christmas, I’d say), she’s really a delight to be around. She has outbursts, and rough spots, but it’s not the norm.

    [Although she is at her father’s in another state right now, and keeps texting me with not a hello or a good morning, just “send me this book,” send me these shorts” … I don’t like it.]

    My younger daughter is a little scarier (to me). Her moods don’t flow outward, they turn inward. She clams up, glowers from under her eyebrows, and shuts down. I like it LESS than my older daughter’s tantrums and screaming and yelling and spoken complaints and miseries.

    I hope your Chickadee ends up on the other side of the roller coaster for a little while, when she gets home. :)

  21. Karen

    My sympathies. I know I was awful from that age until I left for college. With my children it was my son who was miserable to live with — we all heaved a sigh of relief when he left for college and moved out for good a year later. He is much improved now. My oldest daughter is autistic, and never really went through the teenage stuff, The autistic meltdowns were enough. :-) My youngest was very …difficult… from birth to age 7, but has been delightful (mostly) ever since. I cried for weeks after she left for college — it would have been easier if she had been a PITA before she left.

    But, this too shall pass. She must really love and trust you to be so awful around you.

  22. Sheila

    It’s kind of like a Stockholm Syndrome in reverse, isn’t it? The tweenage “captors” were once beloved toddlers and little kids, and now we abide (or at least learn to live with) their tyrannical behavior because we remember that they used to, you know, kinda love us, and also they toss us those little crumbs once in a while. Later, when freed from these years, we will look back on them and remember the good more than the bad.

    One hopes, anyway. Meanwhile, I spend a lot of time reminiscing about the time my now 12-year-old said to me: “Mom, you’re my best friend.” That was about six years ago.


  23. aem2

    It’s not you; teenage girls are psychotic. I talk to the parents of my students and many of them say the same thing. :) I was completely psychotic at times, although I also recall thinking (during my brief moments of lucidity) that I was being ridiculous, but I didn’t know _why_ I was being ridiculous. Also? My mother gave me the silent treatment and it was devastating, but I would have died before I let her know. We now get along really well, for the most part.

    I read somewhere that being awful to your parents is how you pull away from them as you become adult. Try not to take it personally.

  24. Sara

    Yes. All 12 year old girls are sociopaths.(And so are 13 and 14 year olds, by the way.) I was and even though I don’t know you, I daresay you probably were too. My own mother tells me that this just makes you appreciate it all the more when you are actually friends with your daughter as an adult. I’ve never known my mother to be a liar, but sometimes I think she is shading the truth, as I’ve been known to wonder whether my own girl child will even MAKE it to adulthood. It all seems so very far removed from 12 and 13 and 14. Sigh…Good luck and Godspeed, my friend.
    Also? Princess Gimme of Ungratefulville (population:1 BITCHES)? Had me snorting. I believe my daughter is the mayor of that town.

  25. Rachel

    I don’t know a teenage girl who wasn’t like that at least a little bit. Besides… you’re the adult. Sometimes the best learning I got was from my parents being patient even when I was being a bitch… that’s the hard job that grown-ups get to do (or at least try). Set a great example by not taking her behavior personally.

  26. Jamie

    Love Paige’s #2 and will use it myself in the future!

    Sorry this is so sucky, Mir. I have 9 and 6 1/2 yo boys and I swear, I sometimes think the 9 yo boy is a 13 yo girl. He is moody and rude and just flat out entitled, in his own mind. I question every day what we’ve done to make him think this behavior, attitude, etc., is acceptable and I can’t figure it out. I hope that what the other parents have said about them eventually growing out of it happens because otherwise he might get hurt.

  27. dad

    Just remember, you turned out great.
    Not that you were a difficult child.

    Excuse me. I was just hit by lightning.

  28. Wendy 2

    Add me to the chorus of YES’s. Teen girls are total sociopaths. My now 14 year old was the same way, starting at age 9. Now it is few and far between and usually a day or two before she starts her period that her head spins around. I definitely agree with the theory that it is their way of finding themselves and preparing us for them moving out. By the time they are ready to move out we are so sick of them it is easier to let them go. Then again, I haven’t had one move out yet, so I could be totally off base, I’ll let you know in about 4 1/2 years.

  29. ramblin red

    heh…I was just thinking today that my 9 y/o daughter (w/a side of sensory probs, too) was acting similarly to my borderline personality disordered mother lately. What’s sad is that borderline personality disorder looks like an eternal perpetuation of that 6th love language you described – at least adolescence is, in general, outgrown. :sigh:

  30. Kate M

    I hear you. My lovely girls is just eight & a half and, thanks to an underactive thyroid, a bit chubby and facing early puberty. If we don’t get her hormones balanced out a little soon, it’s only gonna get worse.

    Take heart, though, things do get better. My parents just love to remind us of what little sh*ts we were at that age. My father remembers my early adolescence without too much pain. I was primarily a bitch to mom. But my baby sister? At the age of 37, she is still frequently reminded of her title of “equal opportunity bitch”. I used to teach middle school, and I can assure you that it’s a miracle anyone lives past 15. Really.

  31. Amy

    The people (that don’t know your or Chickie) that tell you her behavior is your fault either have never spent time with the adolescent species or they happened to have an unusually easy one in their lives. Teenagers are just like preschoolers–they are going through a lot of the same developmental crap but from a different perspective. Just like no two 3-year-olds respond to their crazy world the same way, neither do two 12-year-olds.

    I think it is so sweet that she called to get her library card number. In tween-speak, that’s like a huge “I’m sorry I’m such a jerk and I still love you” move.

  32. Lylah

    This really struck a chord with me, as I’ve experienced it too many times to count over the last 10 years: “So we had this really fun week right up until the couple of days before she left, whereupon she promptly morphed into Princess Gimme of Ungratefulville (population: JUST ONE, BITCHES), and I began counting down the minutes until her departure.”

    It’s a lot easier to leave someone you love if you’re mad at them — or if you think they’re mad at you. Maybe that’s part of it. Also, the calling back to ask you to for a favor, so she could thank you for it? Easier than admitting guilt.

    I’ve got two girls past 12, one boy at 12, plus some step-stuff going on, and I just want to say that 12 is really, really hard. On everyone. 12 isn’t old enough to really do the young adult things they want to try, but too big to revel in the little-kid things they still secretly enjoy. 12 is when you scoff at night lights but “accidentally” leave the bathroom light on before bed. 12 is when you know you’re being unreasonable but can’t help it, and are worried that your parents think you’re as awful as you think you are yourself, so you act worse to show you don’t care and to see if they’ll keep you.

    12 requires a lot of wine, is what I’m saying.

    I think you are doing really, really well at handling 12.

  33. kakaty

    I was a lifeguard from the age of 16-21. The summer I was 20 I was the head guard, supervising a bunch of 16-17 year old girls (and a few boys). I also managed some pool programs for 10-12 year old girls. I remember one day, after dealing with a bitchy group of tweens, then listening to the squawking of the 16-17 year olds I was the boss of, I went home, sat my mom down and said I was so, so incredibly sorry for the last 8 years. Because as appalled as I was to all their rude bitchiness, I also saw myself in every last girl. I had this moment of clarity where I knew I said just those things and acted just that way and I was embarrassed for my past self.

    8 years. It’s a long time, but hopefully you’ll both come out of the other side closer and with more understanding.

  34. Amelia

    I haven’t had a chance to read all the comments above, so this may be a repeat: but, actually, developmentally, people do go through two selfish phases: the first one is in toddlerhood and the second is adolescence. They really *can’t* judge accurately how important they are to everyone else; they really *do* believe everyone is watching them, that they are the center of the universe. I’m not suggesting that you should tolerate her behavior or anything or that you should not be annoyed. But you’re not crazy: she really does have an inflated sense of importance. And that’s normal.

    The other thing I want to say is that I am teaching a class of tween girls Sunday school for the summer. We are using a magazine-type thing called BeTween ( There’s some stuff in there about mother/daughter relationships that could help. It’s a bit more conservative than I am, personally, but it’s a nice way to open some conversational doors, perhaps. All the 12-year-old girls I am working with really seem to like it. I’m not hawking her stuff; I just think y’all might like it. (And I think I read on here a while back that y’all are Christian; forgive me if I am wrong.)

  35. Nelson's Mama

    Our beautiful, smart and charming 18 year old daughter leaves for college in 5 weeks.

    Some days are absolutely wonderful and I’m in a state of despair about her leaving; others are like today and I’d like to find out if she could move into her dorm early. Don’t hold your breath for 14 or 15, cause it just didn’t happen (I pray it does). Just keep loving her…that’s what I’m doing…someday I have faith that she’s going to know just how deeply I care.

  36. bj

    Well, I think you’re on to something. I think that is the adolescent girl love language. They’re pretty much at the stage where they think they’re the center of the universe and need you to prove that you’ll love them no matter what, and so they push and push and push and our job is to still be there.

    After all, we read them the stories where even if they turn into a walrus, we’ll still love them. Adolescence is kind of walrus like.

    My daughter is 9, and as with everything else, she’s becoming an adolescent early. Your travails are going to remind me to deal.

  37. Deirdre

    My daughter is 11 and some (most) days I feel like we are going through exactly the same thing. Today we had the extended chorus of you like him more, he gets away with everything, and I’m going to run away because you hate me anyway. Twenty minutes later we were on the way to the library and the kids were playing “hugbuggy”. (I banned punchbuggy after seeing too many bruises.).

    It helps to hear she said “thank you.”. Makes me think my daughter and I may both survive her adolescence.

  38. Karate Mom

    My daughter is 10, so I don’t have any advice, really. But I am filing away all of this advice for future use!

  39. Donna

    My oldest daughter just turned 13 and is still a sweet-as-can-be Mama’s girl 95% of the time. She still constantly wants to be with me, sits on my lap, very affectionate, tells me how wonderful I am, how much she loves me, etc. She is the greatest kid…. right up to when she is told no about something, can’t watch something on TV I find inappropriate, or I won’t drop everything I’m doing to take her shopping for something she has to have right this moment. The moods, they change so drastically so quickly!!! I try to remember during those 5% terror times that she is normally sweet and kind. It is very difficult not to let the horrible times overpower all the positive feelings of the good times. I think sometimes she freaks out over little things and doesn’t even realize why… and sometimes she will even tell me that. Her emotions just get out of control and she snaps. Fortunately, she has a good heart and will usually settle down and come apologize within the hour. I fume about it alot longer than she does! I hope she stays sweet but I am always just worried that she is going to become a horrible teenager any time now!! Hang in there… you sound like a great mom and you’ll get through this!

  40. Daisy

    I can’t add more advice; your other commenters are doing well. However, I did teach 6th grade for NINE LONG wonderful YEARS, so I can put a little experience behind my words.

    Yes, she is putting distance between you as she grows into her own independent self.
    Yes, she is mean to you not because you allow it, but because she knows you love her. Unconditional love stinks that way; the people we love know it. You know what I mean.

    And… you’re a book person. Have you read “Get out of my life! But first will you take me and Cheryl to the mall?” It’s an oldie but goodie. I read it when my own daughter started middle school, and it made sense to the Teacher Me, too.

    Wishing you luck: our daughters are special. Holy terrors some times, but special.

  41. Brigid

    Ooof. I’m going to have to learn that silence thing you speak of. My daughter is only 6 (going on 12) and I still try to explain every-little-thing-until-we-both-hate-the-sound-of-my-voice. Silence. Adding it to my bag of tricks.

  42. Debra

    She’s 12? Look on the bright side… only 6 more years to go. Hang in there Mir. Don’t push back too hard. You don’t want to lose her to the teenage years. I remember a lot of talks and a lot of “If that’s the only way you can speak to me then just don’t speak” conversations. But now I have a beautiful 18 year old on her way to college who would rather hang with her parents than hang with her teenage friends and their teenage drama.

    Being a Momma is hard and there is no handbook. I think you’re doing a great job.

  43. Leanne

    Elder is 24 and Teen is 18. I don’t know how we survived. Elder was obnoxious, but Teen was a gold plated bitch – to copy a phrase – most of the time. I remember many occasions just like the one you mention, when the cavalier attitude hurts so much you don’t know what to say.

    They never lasted long though, I’d sit her down, apologise, tell her how I felt. We’d cry for a bit and then it’s over till next time.

    Eventually it got longer between next times and suddenly she’s an adult. ♥

  44. Michele Bardsley

    I have an almost 21-year-old daughter so I can attest to the fact that if you resist the urge to smother your child while she sleeps, everything will even out. At least I understood the thought processes of a girl. I have a 12-year-old son I’m raising alone and I’m lost all over again. There are days I want to drop him off at the mall and keep driving. All we can do is hang in there and blunt the edge of our murderous impulses with wine and chocolate. And love. Um, yeah. Love.

  45. vanessa

    It’s normal.
    Still sucks, though.

  46. Cathi

    No Mer, quite honestly, not all teenage girls are terrible. They are all different and they all deal with their issues in different ways. I was extremely lucky with mine. They were and are, as adults, great. But it wasn’t my great parenting that made them that way. Some kids just have more to deal with and less ability to deal with it. But the good news is that the vast majority turn out to be fabulous adults. They and you will live through it and will be closer on the other side!

  47. lynda

    Daughter nears 25, I still wonder when she moves out of that Village where the population is so small. Cavalier is a great word for the way she behaves: “Oh, well, I said sorry. Didn’t you hear me?”

    Sign me ‘about to give up hope’
    SF Bay Area

  48. Heather Cook

    I was only a bitch to the people I loved most. The rest of the world I was polite to because I was afraid they’d reject me… but I was never afraid my mom would reject me so for some reason that gave me license to be a jerkface.

  49. elswhere

    I’m finding these comments very reassuring, what with the teen years looming and Ms. Junior Drama Queen in the house. Reassuring because so many people are saying this happens, it happens for good emotional reasons, and it sucks but it’s normal and they get over it. I’m already bracing for lots of storms in the coming years, but I’m going to try & keep all this in mind. Thanks, all. And thanks, Mir, for the forum (and the preview…).

  50. Heather

    I have to tell you, when I was Chickadee’s age, I was a BITCH! And yes, in all caps, because I was that bad! I was horrible. I told my parents I hated them and there was a lot door slamming!! Then around 15 it just kinda stopped. I stopped being angry and stopped being so bitchy (I mean I could still be a bitch, but ya know). Good news…my mom is one of my very best friends now, even though I treated her so horribly. Hang in there! I am so glad I had a boy – even with the ADHD – I don’t think it will be as bad as I was!!

  51. Pats

    Thanks, Mir. Glad I’m not the only one with Princess Gimmee, who is SURE that she is the ONLY one who doesn’t have (whatever it is she wants today). I know it is hard being 12-13-14… maybe even harder today than it was for us. But it’s hard being the parent too. We’re all doing the best we can. The only thing that works for me is “do not engage.” Which is probably not the right way to deal with it either.

    I guess the only way that it could NOT be painful would be if we just didn’t give a crap.

    So, from another mom who is raising a grrrrrrl thank you for writing this. I feel less alone now.

  52. JennyM

    (Heh: @#18 — we still occasionally call my 26-year-old sister Katie Kaboom.)

    Hugs and many gluten-free baked goods to you. I’ll personally volunteer to come down and kick the first person who tells you you’re doing it wrong in the teeth, because who needs that?

    (And this is, no joke, the third time in two weeks that I’ve seen or heard passing mention of the “love languages” and I’m thinking it something I should have learned about a long time ago. And should possibly carry around with me.)

  53. Carmen

    I think our 12 year old girls are on the EXACT same planet of adolescent rampage wtih a sidecar of sociopath.

    I think you are doing a great job. Much better than I am.

  54. Karen

    I can tell you it does get better. Really. I believe it was around the age of 18 that I was appreciated and even starting hearing…”Hmm, you were right. I should have listened”… and… she even asks me for advice now a days, at 20.

    Now can anyone tell me how to understand the language of a 14 year old boy? Cause there?… I haven’t got a clue.

  55. Heather G

    I do not have any advise either but I totally feel your pain. My daughter turned 12 in April. Your descriptions of Chickadee’s behavior mirrors my daughter’s. Her father and I are divorced also and she NEVER acts the same at his house. He is constantly floored when I describe her behavior. Cammie’s comment (#19) could have been mine. All I can figure out is she feels safest acting out like that with me. What frustrates me the most is that (a) I know she can behave and be respectful because she does it at her Dad’s house and (b) She constantly texts and calls me whenever she is there, telling me how much she loves us and misses us, but 5 minutes after she gets back, she hates us and we are ruining her life. She does have her moments though. We are having a baby in Sept and she always kisses my belly and says goodnight to her brother. How can that not melt you even after a horrendous day?

  56. SillyMe

    What is Chickie’s love language? Do you meet her there? How did you figure it out? I read the book and I know mine, but I can’t figure out my 10 year old daughter. It’s almost like she doesn’t have one. -or maybe it’s so different from mine I can’t fathom it. Who knows? It’s like being lost in the forest all the time all the trees look the same and I can’t get my bearings. The only thing I am sure of is I love her like crazy and I am pretty sure she knows it. I’m hoping that’s enough. Sending good thought your way.

  57. Heather

    Well, you just reminded me to send my mother a text message to tell her that I love her ;) I’m sorry Chickie is having a rough time. Hang in there!!

  58. Kate

    The main thing I remember about being that age was how much I could. not. help. it. I wasn’t too obnoxious behavior-wise, but my mood swings were huge, and so baffling and out of control I never had a clue what I was about to do next. (As an older teenager I thought I was bipolar. I wasn’t, just an intense kid who had to learn how to handle it.) And it was too intense for me to talk about emotional things, so if there was conflict I would rather avoid than resolve it. But things got better around 16 and we’ve all gotten along great since. :)

    I also would have horrible dreams, that didn’t have anything to do with my life but would leave me feeling awful in the morning. I remember once around 13 or 14 when my mom was giving me chores for the day before leaving for work, and I’d just gotten up. I was unenthusiastic to say the least, and I remember her snapping, uncharacteristically, “Oh, your life is SO rough!” before she left. All I could think was that I’d just awoken from a dream about people dying, and maybe being cheerful after that was indeed a hard thing to do.

  59. Sarahtoo

    And here I thought this was going to be an early Love Thursday post! Chickadee’s call about her card, just so that she could say thank you so carefully seems awfully like an unsaid “I love you, mom” to me. I’m so sorry that she’s being so… 12! I’ve got my fingers crossed that you all come out the other side (back into the I-love-everything-about-her part) soon.

  60. J from Ireland

    That “Thank you Mama” has me crying my eyes out.
    I really get this except she is 13yrs old and her father lives with us so there is no break for any of us!!
    When you find answers PLEASE SHARE!! best wishes.

  61. Linda Sherwood

    Oh Mir! This brought tears to my eyes. I had my own battle with my oldest last week, and I was ready to grant her all of her wishes — basically, I planned to be dead to her. I’d say, “I love you,” but other than that, I was not going to be her mother. It was hard coming to that decision.

    I cried most of the first day after we fought. My husband told me I should talk to her, and she was waiting to talk. I replied I wasn’t ready. I ignored her for a day — never did that before. I was prepared to do it for a lot longer. Or at least I thought I was at about 2 a.m. when I was still crying and trying to explain things to my husband.

    And then while I was eating breakfast, she swooped down and hugged me and said, “I’m sorry.” And I started crying. And two days later, she was back to her normal make me want to pinch her head off self. ARGH!

  62. shadymama

    there’s so much good here RE:chikadee (and i agree with it all (pretty much)) – i just want to quickly say this:

    i? was Heinous as a teen. i turned out well, so, (for the hundredth time in this comment section) *this too shall pass”.

    you? are a gorgeous mama. way to breathe deep, think hard, bite yer tongue and be the grownup. please go take yerself out for some ice cream and whiskey, stat.

    sending love.

  63. Sherry

    My 12 year old is 20 now and we still have those “moments”. (And they say childhood goes by so fast . . . .)

    Three phrases come to mind:

    Pick your battles,
    She’s trying to teach me the true meaning of unconditional love, and
    Gotta love ’em.

    Good luck….

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