1. Health Teacher
Navigating through puberty is a minefield of hormones, new smells and pubic hair. Personally, I would like to be mature about this stage, but her changing body frightens me. It seems like yesterday we were picking out her Strawberry Shortcake undies. Now, she locks the bathroom door and won’t let me in until she is sufficiently covered, safely tucked into her sports bra. This is essential, of course, because jogging sans bra would be so painful at this age.
Trying to understand your tween’s mood swings is akin to solving a Rubik’s Cube. With one hand tied behind your back. Driving a motorcycle at 75 miles per hour. After 16 beers. Most parents have mastered the art of the silent head nod while sympathetically sighing in agreement at whatever sets their tween off, careful never to make direct eye contact. Yesterday, mine cried because her pencil lead broke.
3. Fashion Director
Ah, the middle school years. My tween has gone from grabbing her brother’s dirty hockey jersey off the floor and pairing it with last year’s sweatpants to suddenly taking great interest in her appearance. I am trying to be as nonjudgmental as possible. She came out of my bathroom the other morning swearing she did not borrow any of my make-up. I actually let her go to school with her eye looking like it lost a fight with a tarantula. Notice I said eye and not eyes? Twelve-year-olds get very distracted when they are lying. Have a good day, honey. Muahahaha.
4. Serial Killer
Now, this may not be something one would naturally select as a career path. However, if looks could kill, my daughter and I would both be deader than Lance Armstrong’s cycling career. Want to avoid jail time? Next time your tween acts ungrateful (so, in like three minutes), begin crying hysterically and tell them the doctor said you only have days to live. Between wails, mention you don’t believe your ailment is contagious, but that after you are gone, she should probably get a ride with a neighbor to the doctor just to be safe. Sob that you will selflessly show her how to make dinner for the family, do laundry, pay bills and earn money before you pass. When she screams, “OMG, are you serious?” immediately stop crying, pour yourself a cocktail and say, “No, but don’t you feel like an asshole for treating me like that?” I’ve heard that works like a charm.
5. Private Investigator
Because of kids’ reliance on technology, most parents have become a sort of online ninja, feverishly checking text messages and Instagram accounts. In order for my tween to get her own Instagram account, we agreed I would “follow” her in order to see her every move. I patted myself on the back. Until I learned you can apparently private message people on Instagram. Which she has been doing. Behind the back I just patted.
6. Mind Reader
I wish I could say I have mastered this ability. Most of the time I walk around dumbfounded at what caused the latest outburst of emotion directed my way. My life has been reduced to a perilous game of hot and cold, wherein I probe and prod as to the origin of her moodiness. Did I unwittingly embarrass her in front of her friends? Did I accidentally leave a mushroom in her spaghetti sauce? Did I walk into a room she happened to be occupying and my mere presence offended her? I think I’m getting warmer.
7. Taxi Driver
At this age, roles suddenly flip. What used to be a remotely active social life for parents has now been replaced by driving tweens to various sports practices, school dances, get-togethers and sleepovers. I spend more time in my car than I ever thought possible.
8. Defense Attorney
These days, 95 percent of my tween’s sentences end with, “I Know, Mother.” I am uncertain as to how she is so worldly at this age. It must be from her years studying at university while maintaining two jobs, an apartment, managing her finances and traveling the world. Oh wait, that was me. It must be from all of her hours spent on Minecraft.