Today is day one (take 8-bajillion, but starting over only means you're willing to try again!) I'm restarting my P90X routine because last week was crazy between the holiday, teenagers, snow shoveling and more.
I've already gotten my workout in, and my husband came running in with his healthy omelet to show me that he made for himself (I'm pretty sure he wanted a gold star!) He hasn't worked out, and I doubt he will, but...
Yesterday at the mall we picked up a Kinect-thing and the Nike trainer-thing (all very technical, that's me!) for the Xbox. According to my husband, he might even use it too. <insert eye roll here> I love new fitness toys, so I'll definitely be messing with it. Plus, I guess there is some special way to earn some Xbox points to buy more games while using the Nike-thing, so at the very least I'll jump in to earn that for my family. I'm cheap, and exercise is easy, so they got me on that one. My daughter got a dance game that works with it all too, so we'll probably play with that later as well. My goal is to avoid breaking anything.
The main reason for going to the mall yesterday was to go dress shopping for my daughter, because her school has a winter ball (apparently they're big out here. My high school had a formal homecoming and a prom. This winter ball stuff is new for me.) Even though there is only a SINGLE store in the ENTIRE mall that sells fancy dresses, this took almost the entire day, and my son thought he was going to die of boredom. The funniest part was that there were a ton of parents standing around while their daughters tried on dresses. Since it's an all women's clothing shop, I've never seen so many embarrassed fathers trying to give feedback on dresses in all my life. It was incredibly cute!
This was my very favorite of all the dresses, but it was too "prom":
After trying on about 50 dresses, she settled on this number with fancy jewelry and heels (which she'll have to practice walking in for the next two weeks):
All told, the entire outfit, accessories (including some gems for her hair, which she isn't wearing for this), shoes, and undergarments including a new strapless bra cost me $100, I'm so proud! I don't know why that makes me so proud, but it does. What irks me a bit though, is the fact that apparently strapless bras now equal a bra-to-make-you-as-busty-as-possible. Every one I pulled out had a chart that said "If you're an A this will make you a C" and so on. Where did all the normal bras go? Are they extinct? Am I "Boob-Retro" because I just want a normal bra, instead of one trying to push my chest up to my earlobes and out the door?
That's a nice segue into the fact that my daughter is growing up, and I'm not so certain I'm dealing with it all that well.
There have been little bits here and there, but a good example is that last night my daughter had a meltdown over not being able to date. You see, she is 14 years old - and our rule is no dating until she is 16, and has her drivers license. Why? Because she needs to be old enough and capable enough to take control of a situation if it sours. She is incredibly smart and responsible, and I do trust her, but 14 is simply too young to date in our books. That being said, she can have a boyfriend at school, she can talk to the boyfriend on the phone (or Skype, as all the "hip kids" do now *snicker*), and in a GROUP situation (like a dance or a big group movie outing) she can see him there, they can go to each other's sporting events (with a parent in tow.) She is not allowed to go over and hang out at his house, and a boy is not welcome to come here. She may not go on a double-date, or anything like that. Going out for dinner and a movie is a solid "NO."
This seems, to us, not only reasonable, but common sense. (Besides, don't we get bonus points for not locking her in her room until she's 30?) Apparently, it's not common sense out here. Her argument is that all her friends are allowed to do all of those things (and more), and she's the only one who isn't. Her argument is 100% accurate. I've heard it from the parents themselves talking about how they let their daughters go hang out at the boyfriend's house for the day (without the other parents even being there), or dropping them off to go out to dinner and a movie, or more. I also know that many of her friends have been sexually active since about 12-13 years old, and for some reason out here no one seems to see a problem with that!
Well, I DO.
I tried explaining to her why things are the way they are, while reinforcing that there won't be any compromise on this. I know she feels left out, and worse that we don't trust her because of these rules. I explained it's not about trusting her as much as it's about her age, which she has no control over, and that this is my job as a parent. I went to bed after talking and leaving my daughter frustrated, and me inordinately pissed off and depressed. Oh, not at my daughter; it's her job to feel left out and push the limits and get pulled back by us and then to be upset about it. It's called being a teenager.
I'm furious with all the other parents. It's more than the dating thing, it's all over the place. For example, most families out here have no problem with their kids drinking. I'm not talking about a sip of wine at Christmas, I'm talking "here, have a drink - just stay home at my house when you do!" One of the last slumber parties my daughter was invited to just a few weeks ago, the mom made sure to let the girls know that she would be supplying alcohol to them and what would they like? How do I know about this? Because my daughter told me, and then told me she made up an excuse so she could say no gracefully. That is how responsible my daughter is, and how irresponsible so many parents out here are. I'm furious that my completely fabulous and responsible daughter feels like she is ruled by an iron fist or being punished because the other parents are out of their freakin-frogitty minds!
I went to bed miserable last night. I woke up even more depressed and angry this morning.
Being a parent is hard work. I'm not talking about the cleaning and feeding and clothing the kids, I'm talking about the amount of energy that is required. There are two periods in a child's life that I have found to be the absolute worst as a parent. The first is when they're babies. Oh, they're cute and all they do is eat and poop for the most part, which should make it easy, right? But they're fragile. If something goes wrong, they can't tell you what happened, or what hurts, or how to make it better. You are not only responsible for yourself, but this other human being, and that person can't tell you everything you need to know. It's downright terrifying. The cute makes up for it, but the energy drain is there.
Then it gets pretty good for a while, until they hit around 12-13 years old. That's when you realize that it's time to start helping them on their journey to pull away and become adults. You've been teaching them stuff all this time, but now the lessons get more intricate (and the kids get moody.) People are complex creatures and teaching your children how to swim through the ocean of humanity successfully is a daunting task, made even more so by the fact that children seem to think they already know everything and want to be 25 this very instant! The energy required for a young infant suddenly seems small by comparison to a fully embodied separate person that thinks they're ready for the world when they're not.
So, having a teenager requires a massive amount of energy, energy in the form of caring. If you didn't care, you wouldn't spend the energy on it. That right there? That's what I figured out. I think, local cultural differences aside, that many of these parents have chosen to simply not care because it is easier. It's just too hard to care this much and have to spend the energy, time, worry, and even fear to get these almost-adults safely to adulthood. I'm not certain this phase ever ends as the infant one did, but I think it must get easier to bear the older they are once they're fully out on their own. Through college? In their own home? Parents themselves? Eventually, right? Right?
I went back and talked to my daughter. I told her a lot of this (in teen-terms), and that I am not going to apologize for caring. I empathize with her feeling left out, and I understand how hard that is. I understand that life feels like everything is about right now, this very moment, but that it's my job as a parent to think further into the future and to help her see further as well. Time will pass and these privileges will be granted, along with the responsibility when she is truly ready. This is my job, and I care. I'm not going to stop caring. I just wish that her friend's parents cared even a little bit more.
I hope you all had a good weekend. Mine seemed to come out a bit on the rough side of things. I think I'll go see if I can sprain something using the Kinect...
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