Surviving life as a mother of a tween girl is not for the faint of heart. Most days I feel like a robot, mechanically repeating the same tired phrases over and over, only to be met with dramatic sighs and eye rolls. Most afternoons consist of me holding my breath as she gets home from school, carefully choosing my words to gauge her mood.
She spends most of her free time holding an iPad 3 inches from her face, headphones securely fastened to her ears. Last night, she actually walked straight into my husband as they passed each other in the hallway. She claims she “did not see him” though he was waving his hands and yelling her name in an attempt to avoid collision.
Recently, she has started referring to me as “Mother.” She’s skipped right over a more emotionally acceptable “Mom.” Ninety-eight percent of the time she answers me at all, it is with the phrase “I know, Mother.” Some days she says this as I am mid-sentence. I can only assume this is an attempt to predict the future. Perhaps one day she will be a fortune teller or actress on The Mentalist.
Since most of our communication these days is me attempting to make her a better human being (like yelling at her for leaving seven drawers open whenever she exits a room) and her shouting back, “I know, Mother,” I’ve been left to my own devices to decipher what she really means when she says it.
Here are some possible options I’ve come up with:
1. I know more than you.
2. You are an idiot.
3. I literally have no idea what you just said because I’m not paying attention to you.
4. I want my friend to sleep over so I’m trying to seem agreeable.
5. Your mouth is moving but all I can hear is “blah, blah, blah, when I was your age, blah.”
6. I’m practically the only one of my friends who doesn’t have a phone/TV in my room/life/purpose in life/voting rights/car even though I can’t drive for three years/endless supply of money at my disposal.
7. Instead of actually cleaning my room, I shoved all clothes, both dirty and clean, into a plastic container under my bed.
8. I flat out refuse to do whatever you just told me to do, but I wasn’t listening so it’s really anyone’s guess if it will get accomplished just by sheer coincidence.
9. Why are you freaking out?
10. I don’t understand.
11. You don’t understand.
12. No one understands me.
13. You are so embarrassing.
14. If I do this thing you are asking, will you buy me a new sweater?
15. I know I said I would do it, but I’m simply too tired from all the Netflix watching to actually do the thing you just asked.
16. I swear I don’t have any homework.
17. What in the actual hell are you talking about?
18. I’m sad.
19. I’m frustrated.
20. I love you.
It seems like just yesterday she followed me around everywhere I went. She was so willing to climb into my lap and share her secrets, and just like that, she wants nothing to do with me. These days I would do anything to actually connect with her on some level, so the last ones more of a hope than a guess. I’m pretty sure if I listen close enough, I can hear her saying it, even if she’s rolling her eyes in typical tween fashion at the same time.
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