1. I did not raise her in England. Which means she doesn’t have a British accent. “So now I can never be a famous actress, Mo-om. All the best actresses have British accents. How could you do this to me?”
2. We backed the car into the parking space. Now the passenger’s side window does not fog up in the morning. Which means she can’t write “I HATE YOU MOM” or “WOW” or “LMAO” in the condensation. This is a travesty. It’s inexcusable. It ruins her whole day. Every day.
3. I won’t buy her an iPhone or allow her to buy one for herself. Everyone has one. Even Izzy. She is a pariah. She can’t do anything without a smart phone. Everyone has a phone. EVERYONE has a phone. No one has a flip phone. Why aren’t you listening?! Why don’t you care?! My daughter is the only person on the face of the entire earth who does not have a smart phone. She doesn’t deserve to be treated this way.
4. My fashion sense is immiserating. The dress I wore the other day—the one several people complimented me on—had a too-high neckline. This was an embarrassment she will bring with her to the grave.
5. I don’t shake the popcorn correctly.
“Mom, you make the popcorn.”
“Not like that! NOT LIKE THAT! OMG, you’re doing it wrong. Do I have to do EVERYTHING around here? Give me those potholders. YOU suck at making popcorn.”
6. I put spinach on her sandwich. In her mind this is akin to forcing her to eat rat poison.
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7. I tell her she’s beautiful.
“Bully,” she says.
8. I tell her the truth when she asks me what I think of her outfit.
“That shirt looks really nice on you,” I say. “The purple brings out the green in your eyes.”
“Liar,” she says.
9. I tell her I love her.
“I hate you,” she replies.
“Have a good day, darling.”
“Have a bad day, bully.”
10. I love my houseplants more than I love her. She hates my houseplants. So I decide to give some away.
“Not the coffee plant!” she objects.
“Not the dracaena,” she scolds.
“Not the Christmas cactus,” she pleads. “Mom, why are you giving away all the houseplants? I like them.”
11. I am singlehandedly responsible for COVID.
“You know it’s your fault,” she says.
“Honey,” I reply. “COVID was not my fault.”
“Keep telling yourself that.”
12. I make her cook dinner once a week. She’s been helping in the kitchen since she was three years old and our family rule is that every kid cooks once a week once they turn twelve. She promises to start cooking at 5:00 p.m. so we can eat by 6:00 p.m. At 5:45 p.m. she still hasn’t come downstairs. My husband reminds her and tells her we’re hungry. She stomps down the stairs. Then bangs the pots and pans down on the stove as hard as she can. Makes hamburgers but refuses to join us at the table.
“I’m. Not. Hungry,” she insists when we ask her to join us.
“We’d like you to sit with us,” I say. “We eat dinner together as a family.”
“You can’t make me!” This is technically true. Besides, her anger-cooking has made me lose my appetite. I put my dinner in the refrigerator for the morrow and my husband eats by himself.
13. We moved to spend a gap year in a coastal town in South Carolina where there are palmetto trees and live oaks draped in Spanish moss. People are kind here. They smile at each other.
With easy access to the East Coast, we’ve gone to see one of her favorite bands, The Longest Johns; she’s been to Boston to visit her aunt; and to New York City to see her sister. I also sent her back to our beloved town in southern Oregon for Halloween and her birthday.
Our diverse town in the coastal Carolinas has 22,000 people, a walkable downtown, one of the coolest bookstores in the country, an arts center, a community tennis program, and so many fossilized shark teeth on a nearby beach that visitors come from all over the country to comb for them.
Every morning we drive across a swing bridge to get to her school. She’s excelling academically, making some friends, and killing it on the tennis court. She and her coach, who is ranked #1 in four categories, share the same birthday.
“Seventh grade is the most important year of my life,” she says. “You’ve ruined it for me. You’ve ruined everything.”
12 Reasons It’s Great to Be Twelve (NOT!)
What Riding an Electric Bike Taught My Daughter About Life
Can’t Understand Your Teens? You’re Not Alone
Jennifer, thanks for sharing. I too was a mean parent. Apparently the meanest dad in the entire school. No cell phone either, and allowance required contribution around the house. I spent an entire day going from store to store to find the right colour of bicycle only to have it stolen two days later because she forgot to lock it. Just think of the grandchildren. That's the reward for not giving them away at this age.
Of my 3 adult children, the one I get along best with is the one that has children of her own. I think she has a better perspective now. I know it’s a long time to wait for forgiveness but hang in there momma.