St. Martyr of Stabby

By Mir
September 15, 2011

There is a list of things I carry around in my head, and I may not refer to it or think of it all that often, but it is labeled, “Things I Will Never Do As A Parent Because It Bugged The Everlovin’ CRAP Out Of Me When My Parents Did It.” (Sorry, Mom and Dad.)

I don’t think this is unusual. Most parents I know have a similar list. Its biggest hallmark, of course, is that half of the items on the list are things we’ve already done, because HELLO, a lot of the stuff we hated as kids we perpetuate as parents because it’s actually the stuff that makes sense, no matter how irritating it is to be on the receiving end. Growing up and becoming the Responsible Person In Charge has a way of obliterating certain assumptions, it turns out.

Still. There’s a list. With things on it. Things I really don’t want to do because I know they are the fast track to Sucksville, both for my kids and for me as a parent. And that is why I have spent the bulk of today biting my tongue.

I keep forgetting to mention that Round 2 of Operation Miracle Drug started off so wonderfully that I was literally doing little dances in the kitchen, envisioning all of the rash-free days that lay ahead of us, now that we’d finally found the answer, but of course that didn’t last. Within about three days it became clear that Chickadee was allergic to the new medication. No, it didn’t leave her curled up in a ball of pain on the floor like the first med, but it did… give her a rash. (The medicine to cure her rash GAVE HER A RASH. Oh, irony.) So that was the end of that.

So let’s tally it up:
1) Chickadee is 13. An age of serenity and grace, if ever there was one.
2) Chickadee has been a medical guinea pig for months (years, really) on end.
3) Chickadee is still on steroids! Because…
4) … Chickadee still has a mystery skin condition!
And, finally:
5) Today was supposed to be Chickadee’s next-to-last orthodontist appointment.

The last time Chickie saw the orthodontist, they said we should come back for her final adjustment, and then a month after that, she would be getting her braces off. Keeping all of the above in mind, it should not have surprised me that when they revealed, today, that actually she’s only getting the TOP ones off in a month, and then the bottom ones two weeks later, that she might feel a wee bit testy.

But then it happened.

Even though she had a morning appointment, she went to school, first, because she didn’t want to miss math team. (I am pretty sure I’m not actually related to this child. Who goes to school an hour early for math every day? ON PURPOSE!) I came to get her about five minutes into first period, and then—despite not looking like the office was all that busy—her appointment dragged on and on and on. She was antsy and kept asking me what time it was, because she was eager to get back for a particular class. And then they told her she was only getting half her braces off next time, and then they popped up the schedule to make the appointment. “We only do Wednesday mornings, for debandings,” the tech said.

She gave me the date and I said, “Oh, we can’t do it then. The next week?”

Chickadee’s eyes bugged out of her head. “What? WHY??”

“Because I’ll be out of town, and Otto has to teach. I’m sorry, honey. We’ll do it the week after.”

I made the appointment, while Chickadee put her head down and started to bawl. Giant crocodile tears plopped into her lap, one after the other, and I felt bad for her for about two seconds before a giant wave of annoyance rose up and replaced any sympathy I’d had at first.

Because: In an average week, Chickadee is accommodated for three marching band rehearsals, one football game, church youth group, five early drop-offs for math team, and two pick-ups from school after other activities. I pack her lunch five days a week and her dinner a couple of nights besides. I rearrange my schedule to take her to the orthodontist, the dermatologist (which, lest we forget, is IN ATLANTA and always takes an entire day), and anywhere else she needs to go.

Because: In an average year, I turn down half-a-dozen offers for free trips that come to me because of my job (my favorite is that the Jamaica tourism people keep offering, and I love them and desperately want to go, but it just hasn’t been possible with our schedule), and pass by anywhere from four to ten conferences I’ve LOVE to attend because no matter how much I love my job, my PRIMARY job is running this family, and we’re not in a position for me to be away all that often.

Because: The conference I’m going to next month is my first work-related travel since last April.

Because: Chickadee has been boundary-testing with us quite a lot lately—as is age-appropriate—and her attitude of entitlement—also age-appropriate, I assume—drives me batty.

Because: We’re delaying her braces-removal by one lousy week.

Now. I know that a week feels like eternity when you’re 13. Especially when you’re 13 and on steroids, even. But her reaction (and subsequent refusal to pull it together after I asked why she was crying and reminded her that this couldn’t be helped, and it was only a week) made me want to rattle off all of the “because”s at her and demand a little more appreciation of the time and money that goes into her mouth, her day, her LIFE.

But I remembered the list. The list says “Thou shalt not list the things you, the parent, do for the kid as if it deserves veneration.” Because the only appropriate response from the child at that point is, “I didn’t ask to be born, you know! You shouldn’t have had kids if you didn’t want to do that stuff!”

Instead, I gripped the steering wheel a little more tightly than necessary as I drove her back to school in complete silence. When we pulled up at the front door, she leaned in to hug me and tossed out a grudging, “I’m sorry,” and was gone before I could respond.

My newly acquired sainthood won’t change anything, by the way. But feel free to worship as you see fit.


  1. Suebob

    I want to wave my wrinkled old finger in her entitled young face and give that speech. Then I remember when I was that age (until about, oh 26 or so) and never ever thought about anyone else ever. Because I was that age.

  2. Mir

    EXACTLY. Sigh.

  3. Miss Britt

    I’m swinging incense in your name.

  4. Lucinda

    Did your tongue bleed because mine would have. Good for you for biting it and giving her the space to apologize in her own teen way. I bow to your sainthood!

  5. Niki

    Thanks – I needed this reminder today. I would very much like to list all I contribute to my daughter’s life, physically, emotionally, and financially, but I won’t.

  6. elz

    Who says a free Jamaican vacation has to be with your family? Girls Trip. I’m in! ;)

    M gave me her list yesterday “When I’m a mommy, I won’t say ‘Maybe’ or “we’ll see.” Allrighty then, you let me know how that works out, girl who threw a fit this morning because her BANDAID WAS NOT PRETTY.

    It’s hard to reign in the list, good job.

  7. MomQueenBee

    Hey, do the Jamaica tourism folks still need someone to take that tour? Pick me!

  8. Megan

    Wow! Does this make you the patron saint of Parents in Need of More Patience Than Has Ever Existed (world without end, amen), or the patron saint of Really Really Pointy Stabby Things (that shall not be used, but might be contemplated with deep satisfaction).

    Cause either way I think I’ve found a saint my black shriveled atheist little soul can believe in!

  9. Nelson's Mama

    Sigh is right.

    We are planning a trip next June, months away, to celebrate our 30th anniversary and my 50th birthday (woohoo!!). We informed our 20 year old daughter that she’d be staying home with her 15 year old sister during our trip. Heavenly days, the wailing and gnashing of teeth…

    We were informed that the most recent trips she’d been taken on “didn’t count” because she hadn’t needed her passport. Sheesh.

    And they wonder why Nelson is my number one man?

  10. pam

    I don’t know of any balm for a bloody swollen tongue so I shall just bow down to Saint Mir!

  11. Ginnie

    You and I seem to be living parallel lives in different states. My 14 yr old daughter drives me crazy multiple times in multiple ways on a daily basis, then has the gall to be hurt and offended when I get upset with her. I don’t think age causes wrinkles, I think teenagers do.

  12. Headless Mom

    13 year old girls don’t happen to have cornered the market on that type of angsty, selfish crap. My 11 yo boy would give her a run for her money.

    Well played, Mir.

  13. Donna

    I have apologized to my mother may, MANY times for ever having been a teen-aged daughter.

  14. Karenp

    Grey got his braces off in the 8th grade. We had to ask the Orthodontist to delay taking off his braces by about a month I think. Greg had won a flute competition and needed to keep his braces on so his embouchure wouldn’t change so he could play in the recital. The orthodontist said that was the first time someone asked to keep them on.

  15. liz

    I am totally awed and impressed by your self-restraint. I would have lost my shit.

  16. Patricia

    I was awful to my mom when I was 13 (ok, truth, from the time I was 11 to age 30). I still fight the “world revolves around me” illness on occasions (and I’m not 13 anymore). My mother is a complete saint who deals with not only from me — who has recently learned that I need her more than ever — but also my aunt, who also needs her too.

    Anyway, all of that to say. I had a kid and from that day forward I try to call my mother and apologze for my teens and twenties.

  17. dad

    After years of worship at Our Lady of Perpetual Guilt there exists only the reward sainthood. Is it enough?

    Hint: Years from now you get to explain to your progeny that their problems are not the result of a hex you put on them.

  18. Nancy

    Thanks for the reminder of what 13 used to feel like as a mom, and as a kid. I have a lovely 30 year old daughter who is as perfect as a daughter could be. Great friend really. Had I known that then would I have had more patience and some secret smiles? Yes, I think so. Here is wishing you some secret smiles as you think of her as a 30 year old – and not because she has a child just like her either : )

  19. Otto

    I’m guessing there’s ice cream AND wine tonight?

    I am okay with that, so you know.


  20. Tracy

    I am bleeding right now from biting my tongue. And listening to my Ipod because if beloved daughter attempts to talk with me right now, I might say that which I know will do no good. So instead I am “listening to music”.

    sigh. I hear you.

  21. addy

    Ahhh the basking in the recent sainthood – please to relish this feeling – you know you will need it again! 13 to ohh i’m thinking maybe 35 to 40 she will be over it. Ya think? Cuz man sometimes college aint far enough away.

  22. Jean

    13 y.o. girls do not have the market cornered on entitlement. My 14 y.o. girl rarely behaves this way (PTL), but my 12 and 10 y.o. sons are making up for her silence.

    I earn no sainthood here, as I have been known to blow my stack and recite VERY LOUDLY all that has been done and provided for them and all that I would like to do but don’t, because of their needs. As time goes by, my skin gets tougher, but every once in a while I feel as though they need the wake up call that is THE LIST. So be it.

    Kudos to you for keeping it in. You’ll always have us internets to vent to….

  23. Karen

    Can I just laugh instead?… :-)

  24. Rachael

    You totally reminded me why … on some level … I am terrified they will tell me this is a girl in this belly of mine. Oh … a teenager of my capacity. I can only imagine. However then I remember that list of my own and I commend you for your patience! :)

  25. Elizabeth

    You know, this blog isn’t helping me find the desire to get pregnant any time soon. Which I’m supposed to be doing, as it is next on the life plan.

  26. mamaspeak

    It’s going around this week, I guess.
    Every week, really.
    I can not tell you how many times (just this week,) the words, “be grateful for what you have & quit worrying about what you might be missing!” have spewed from my lips to my 5 YEAR OLD! I fear the teenage years for us all. I’m seriously considering boarding school; somewhere far away…Like Australia or the moon.
    I bow to your restraint. Light a candle for me or something. I need it.

  27. Amy

    I had to drop the disappointing news of a canceled field trip on a whole classroom of middle schoolers yesterday. Good god, I thought they were going to revolt. Their attempted interrogation of me was shocking, even for someone that has taught 700+ middle school kids (which, in case you may have forgotten, are about the same developmentally as toddlers).

  28. Jennifer

    In moments like this, I like to remind my children that they can be sold for parts. My daughter is now 19 and is started to approach human again and my son is 17 and is still a mystery. But I would gladly eat glass before I ever had to live through 14 – 16 with either of them again.

  29. MomCat

    Genuflection and praise, St. Mir the Tolerant! It’s so hard, and the tongue does suffer, but it’s worth it. The List only ever leads to that bad place. I’m sure she appreciates your patience. She would never say that, but she does.

  30. Liza

    Good job, Mir!

    To be fair to your little Chickadee, probably what was really going on was disappointment that all of the braces didn’t come off today, channeled into being mostly unreasonable about the rest coming off in 3 weeks instead of 2.

    FWIW, my kids teeth are coming in so slowly that they will be 17 by the time I go through this. Or maybe 25. In spite of having recently celebrated her 3rd birthday, Josie’s dentist just explained to us that she has 1/2 of 1 of her 2-year molars.

  31. Brigitte

    Oh, I will indeed bow down and declare I am not worthy, because you have faaaar more patience than me! And I only have one, who makes few(ish) demands. Maybe I really wasn’t meant for this mom-gig. ;-)

  32. Annette

    Catholic Catechism moment… Even if you are canonized, saints aren’t worshipped, just venerated. And for that honor, they are bugged incessantly by those of us still struggling on earth to intercede for us with prayer.

    You did a good job, and yes, being Christ to others, especially those we live with is a martyrdom and I am banking on it making me holy too:)

  33. Lori N

    <> “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!”

    Even though my own daughter is only 11, I have driven that knuckle clenching drive many times. Good job keeping it together.

    My mantra these days is, “These are not my moods, these are her moods and I do not have to participate in them.” repeat as necessary

  34. 12tequilas

    Will the Wayne’s World “We’re Not Worthy” do?

  35. 12tequilas

    Drat! Lori N beat me to it.

  36. Another Dawn

    I bow down, in deepest respect and sincerity. The sainthood. IT BURNS.

    The teen years are HARD.

    But I promise you the 20s are much, much, MUCH easier. You’ll almost forget the horror that is the teen years. Almost.

  37. aem2

    Next time, remember that “sorry.” My mother’s cold silences when I was ungrateful and boorish did much more to chasten me than any litany of “this is what we do for you” ever could. My stomach still drops out every time I think about it.

  38. Susan

    Commiserations, but why be a packed lunch saint? She’s 13, when will she pack her own lunch?

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