14 July 2008

Of Cousins and Soon-to-be Mothers of Teens

Cousin J's visit last week was not just a breath of fresh air, it was also a realization. As the week progressed, I became aware that in just 11 short years (yes, short because when I think about my life it's very clear that these 36 years have flown by) I will be the mother of a teenage girl. And I am terrified.

I know, I know. You're all about to remind me that I also have two sons, but for right now, we'll just focus on Miss-Miss.

Now, don't get me wrong. J is just the sweetest 14-year-old girl I've ever known. She's got a great head on her shoulders, she has a brain that processes common sense ideals, and she's pretty savvy when it comes to boys, parents, school, and the future. There were never any bad moments during our visit. At no time did I just want to shove her down the black hole of parenthood where most teens are imagined to reside when they annoy the hell out of their parents and loved ones.

While we were shopping last Thursday, many salespeople made reference to J as my daughter. Holy crap! I thought, I actually could have a 14-year-old daughter right now. If Ty-man and I had gotten married immediately after college instead of waiting a year and got started immediately on a family, I would have a 14-year-old standing next to me that would be my daughter or son. There's absolutely no way I could deal with a 14-year-old right now! In fact, I don't think I'll ever be ready for a 14-year-old. Damn.

What scared the bejeezus out of me were the moments J opened up to me. She informed me that she has decided to date when she turns 16 (January 2010, ladies and gents). Mom and Dad haven't decided this, she has. I don't think they're going to have any say. And? She's already picked out the boy. I know all about her boy-crazy friends, which friends are snotty and are mean to her, that she didn't like her older brother's girlfriend, how she feels about her immediate family (grandparents, uncle, 1st cousins, mom and dad), the kinds of clothes she likes to wear and those clothes her mom doesn't like her to wear that I thought looked OK, and on and on. This scared me because I can be a friend, someone she can talk to, someone who is an adult but is viewed by her as just a really old teenage girlfriend, someone who isn't her mom. It scared me because who will be this person for Miss-Miss? Will that person confide in me? Will that person lead Miss-Miss in the right direction and give her good advice? Will that person talk smack about me to my daughter while at the same time telling her to go against my wishes?

I make sure whenever I speak with J that I only speak good about her parents and grandparents. I have the utmost respect and love for them, but even if I didn't I would still make sure to never speak ill of them in front of their daughter. Will Miss-Miss's confidante give me and Ty-man the same courtesy?

I can't hand-pick Miss-Miss's confessor; if I did she would run in the opposite direction, knowing I also had that person's ear. I guess I just have to have a little faith.

That and prepare the minivan for the onslaught of a 15-year-old J, learner's permit in hand, when she visits next summer. Wow. Not ready for that, either.


Anonymous said...

My dad's youngest sister is 18 years younger than him and only about 7 years older than me. She was that person for me. Since I was the oldest she was like the big sister I didn't have, though she probably did more for me, and with me, than a big sister would have. I would visit her during the summer, or she would visit me, until they moved closer when I was about 9 or 10.

She took me to my first concert and taught me how to drive. We used to go to the next town's hangout (the skating rink) and flirt with boys. She also bought me my first alcohol (wine coolers, I didn't ask for them). When she went to college in another close-by town her father rented an apartment for her. I used to go up on weekends once in awhile and we'd stay up all night watching videos (back in the 80's when MTV still played videos) and eating junk food. She took me to the Town Center. And we talked about everything. She even tried to help me with my fear of dogs (which backfired when the dog attacked me).

But, she could be (and still is) a very mean and spiteful person. Not to the person's face though, she didn't have the guts for that. She and my mother didn't get along and my aunt never tired of trashing my mom (and vice versa). Or of trashing other people. But I was a smart kid and, while I didn't like it, I knew it was her way of dealing with her low self-esteem, and her many other issues. Her tirades did not color my opinions of anyone else but her.

This is just a long-winded way of saying that I am glad that I had this bond with her at that time in my life. And that I enjoyed every aspect of our relationship in spite of that side of her because in my head and in my heart I saw these people in (I think) a better way than she could see them. My parents (well, my dad) raised me that way.

Hopefully that makes sense. But I don't have kids so I don't have the experience, or worries, from your side of the situation.

Bucky said...

Don't live in the future. It's way to full of too many "What if"'s.

Live in the now and enjoy your kids as much as you can. The future will come soon enough.


RiverPoet said...

Oh, you've got a while yet before you have to deal with your own teenagers. Just keep enjoying the potty training for now :-)

(Oh? And I did have a 14 year old when I was your age!!!)

Peace - D

Expat No. 3699 said...

Heather, enjoy your kids at the age they are now because it will go by so fast. Yeah, and I had a 14 year old when I was only 31!


Gypsy said...

I saw a program the other day on child brides -- there was a woman on there who was a grandmother at 35! That's two years away for me, and I can't even imagine being a mother, let alone a grandmother.

I don't know why, but your post reminded me of that.

Also? I was a terrible teenage girl. Snotty, bratty, willful. Sigh.

Donna said...

I know exactly what you mean, and although it is true that you should focus on the presence, because that's all you really have, but I still wonder who will be that mature friend for my daughter ... I'm hoping my younger sister *crossing fingers*

Miss Britt said...

I am going to lock my daughter up at 12.

Problem solved.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Miss Night Owl - I'm so glad she was there for you and glad you didn't listen to her when she was negative. Thanks for making me feel better, hon!

Bucky - Yessir.

River Poet - "Enjoy the potty training." You're a hoot, woman!

Employee #3699 - Wow. I can't imagine having a teen right now. Cannot fathom it.

Gypsy - Holy crap! 35-year-old grandmother? No. Friggin. Way. And if Miss-Miss is snotty, bratty, and willful? I'm calling you for advice. "Go stay with your Aunt Gypsy for the weekend!" Hee hee! :)

Donna - It's so hard to me to live in the present. I'm always thinking about the future.

Miss Britt - HA! Can I lock up Miss-Miss with her?

Jenn said...

I don't like to think ahead that far, considering all the stuff G. gets into now, I can just IMAGINE (no I cant no I cant) him as a teenager!

Not Afraid to Use It said...

If I start thinking down that path I will NEVER sleep at night. So here's the deal. I'll be that confidante for Miss-Miss if you are that confidante for LittleBird. Deal?

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Jenn - Oh, I know! My youngest boy is going to be a complete hellion with every bone in his body broken on the list to be broken. Gray hairs! Gray hairs!

NATUI - Deal!

Violet the Verbose said...

One of the sessions I attended today at BlogHer was about body image, how we impart healthy messages about it to our children, etc., and there were a lot of folks in there talking about their daughters who are 10 & older. Hearing their questions and concerns made me think ahead more to when my girls are those ages, and I found myself getting very emotional about it. One of the moms who has kids nearly my age said that really what it comes down to is letting your kids know that they are loved. You teach them everything you think is important, you repeat it over and over and OVER and OVER, and you love them. And your message gets through. Hopefully if they have an older confidante (maybe she won't - I don't think everyone does - I didn't) they will do what you did, but if they don't hopefully Miss-Miss will fall back on what you have instilled in her and that person won't have her ear for long. Because of what YOU have taught her. :o)

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Violet the Verbose - And I completely agree that it's all about love and repetition. Someday the message will get through!