Thursday, April 12, 2007

I'm In Over My Head

Apparently, malls across America are teeming, teeming I tell you, with un-chaperoned eleven year-olds.This news came to me in a huff yesterday, delivered by my own eleven year-old. I had sat her down and told her that in our home, we had four rules:
Be kind
Respect your parents
Try your best
If you make a mess, clean it up
I'm trying to simplify. When your kids are young, it's necessary to micromanage every move they make. Chew your food carefully, brush your teeth, hold my hand, be careful, write your name neatly at the top of your paper. I'm still in that mode. Two of my kids still need that kind of supervision and so it's really hard for me to make the transition of letting go with my older ones. Really hard.
Hence, yesterday's recap of our household rules. I went over them with my daughter and she just stared at me. When I finished she said, "What about going to the mall?"
"Um. What about it."
"It's not in our rules [can you hear the snideness? Can you hear the cork popping from a bottle of pinot grigio?]. So I guess that means I can go to the mall. By myself. With friends."
"Well. That's not really a household policy. That's an activity we'll evaulate on a case by case basis. And right now, I don't think your behavior is showing me you're ready for that kind of responsibility. And you know what? I don't recall seeing any eleven year old girls by themselves at the mall last time I was there. I'm pretty sure you're in the same boat as a lot of your friends."
"Uh! No! ALL of my friends get to go to the mall. I see kids my age everywhere every time I go. Everywhere!"
After she stormed out, I called my husband at work. He bounced it off his assistant, who has a house full of teenage girls. He asked if we were at the apex of the sassing (he uses words like that). She laughed and said we were nowhere near done. It peaks around sixteen or seventeen. She is a really good mom, Bob's assistant (hopefully, soon to be promoted, and good for her because I don't know how she's done it this long) and she told Bob that she doesn't believe in hitting her children, but by God they test her so hard that once, she put her hands on her teenage daughter's shoulders and shook them during an awful exchange.
Her rationale?
No one's ever heard of Shaken Teenager Syndrome.
At least her teenager thought it was funny, too. Me? I'm going to the mall.