It’s started. I knew it would. I am no longer a source of useful information. I need to stop hoping that I might be listened to. I need to stop offering advice, unless asked – and even then I need to carefully consider if it is worth it. I definitely need to stop thinking that my opinion may count.
I hate this phase so much. I remember T went through it at around this time. It’s the curse of starting secondary school – they’re being treated far more grown up by teachers, friends and also us parents too – and I know she has to go through it. They’re expected to make decisions; to be responsible for themselves; they are working more independently. Unfortunately, this means that she thinks she has the answer to everything.
I can’t advise her on anything; I say black she says white. She has always been strong willed (which I am mainly glad for as it has helped her over the years with friendship issues, etc) but this is a whole new level. I have to bite my lip so much these days that I am in danger of creating a hole in it. An example: today, she came home with a gift from one of her new friends. It’s a body scrub, which is lovely and an ideal gift for any girl. Unfortunately, A has very sensitive skin like K and has a tendency to get rashes quite frequently. I stupidly (not stupidly actually, sensibly and as any mum would) suggested that it might upset her skin (I was going to follow this up with the suggestion that she try a small amount on an inconspicuous are of skin to test it) and was met with a resolute, “No it won’t”. OK…. But….. “No, it will be fine”. I agree this in itself doesn’t sound too awful, but when you add in the disdainful look and the folded arms and dominant stance, well you get the picture. The twelve year old in me was inclined to suggest that it would serve her right if she woke up looking like she had been attacked by a horde (?) of mosquitoes (horde?), but I quickly reminded myself that I am 44 and that I would actually be mortified for her if that happened. I somehow managed to quietly and calmly (yes, me!) make the patch test suggestion and politely reminded her that on past experience it might be sensible to proceed with caution. We then had to navigate the choppy water that is “backing down without losing face” and – because I am kind – I allowed her to get away with a muttered “yeah whatever” and off she went to immediately find some misdemeanour that she could even the score out with – namely me omitting to remind her that I had been unable to lay my hands on any mini-marshmallows for the cupcakes she is making in food tech tomorrow (I had told her on Friday after the food shopping was delivered; we were in Sainsburys yesterday but she didn’t think to ask if we could buy some from there. Because as independent as she is and as much as she doesn’t need me for anything, somehow I was supposed to remember that she needed them.) How useless can you get? The cakes are now going to be “totally boring”. Ho hum.
I love my girl to bits with her sense of humour, her steadfastness in who she is, her brightness, her self-containment, her self-assuredness. But I hope to god this phase passes soon. I’m not known for keeping my cool, for biting my lip and counting to ten. I don’t like being treated like an idiot (even though I may behave like one sometimes) and won’t put up with it from anyone. But, IT IS ONLY A PHASE. IT IS ONLY A PHASE. Let’s hope it’s a short one and we can move on to the next joyous part of the life cycle of the teen. I’ve been here before of course, but this time it’s got a whole new added dimension of GIRL. And we all know that makes a whole world of difference.