A small in

A small in

Some days I feel like there’s a chasm between Poss and I; we speak in single sentences, her focussed on her world, me just trying to keep my head above water. Work is busy in a ‘still trying to find my feet’ kind of way, and third term has always been notoriously crazy.

I know all this, but it doesn’t stop me worrying that she’s slipping away from me. And I’m probably over thinking it. Because that’s what I do. But there you go.

So I try to grab moments to connect with her in the car on the way to and from school, or early in the morning while Poppy wiggles between us in the big bed. Some days it works, but mostly she tells me that I couldn’t possibly understand her world. And of course, she’s right. She’s 10. It’s been a long time since I was 10.

I remember when she first started school and I used to try and get every detail about her day out of her; so foreign was it that she had that world apart from me, a world that I would have no insight into, no control over.

These days I’m lucky if I can get a few lines out of her. I prioritise. What was the best bit of your day? The worst bit? What are you looking forward to?

Sometimes I strike gold and she’ll babble away, mostly to herself, and I’ll get to listen along. Eavesdropping gives me a tiny glimpse into her world.

We’re all tired at the moment, this cold that has struck me down has hung around way longer than it was welcome. But today we dragged her out of bed, away from her iPad and forced her to come to the park with us. She moaned as though I was removing a leg, or possibly an arm, but it was so worth it.

It was freezing cold, the kind of cold that gets in underneath all your layers and bites at your skin. While Poss rode ahead on her scooter, we walked behind trying desperately to keep our hoods on, while Poppy bounced around in that tiny wiggly puppy way.

Despite the cold, without the distractions of the internet, her toys, her laptop, the babbling started and it was a delight to hear her ask us questions, to draw us into her world and invite us to participate.

Sure, it mostly focussed on her latest obsessions, her favourite YouTube stars and nonsense “would you rather” style questions, but the conversations went back and forth and consisted of more than single sentences.

And maybe, just maybe, it will give me a small in during those quiet moments in the car this week, a simple starting point, some common ground.

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  1. Teenagering is difficult. You go from thinking of your parent as a constant, person always there who never changes, to someone who you still need there for necessities but is otherwise just in the background until they start yelling at you to do stuff.

    Also at some point soon she’ll realize that all the rules are not actually rules but just shit you made up and then she’s going to feel betrayed. Sorry. Not your fault, but everyone has a time they realize that going to school every day and being middle class and going on to uni or whatever is just one tiny facet of the options available and it feels like the floor has dropped out from under you. You can redefine it as ‘rules you need to follow if you wish to continue living in my house and not getting a job to pay rent’. (I hit this at about 11, she might be on a different schedule).

    I guess you have two choices. You can be the Mum who doesn’t get to hear what is going on in her world but does keep her safe (rules like bedtimes, how often she can go out with friends, curfews) or you can be a my-daughter-is-my-best-friend sort of Mum. Which is what you’re talking about here, I think? You want the lines of communication open. That means it has to be a two way street.

    If you want to start that, you need to make her aware that your life isn’t static, that you grow and change and are uncertain too. When you sit down over dinner, talk about your day and ask her opinion on the choices she thinks you should make. On important ones, probably phrase it as “I think I’m going to do ____ because _____ but I’m not sure, here are my options”. Simple things like what you should wear to the office, if you should bring your work home or work late tonight at the office, if you should get a pair of new glasses. The tiny things you probably mention to a friend or not to anyone. If you want her as a friend, ask and then listen to her opinion. Laugh about things together.

    And then you can ask her about her stuff. Because she gets to have a say in your stuff. It’s mutual and you respect each other. Only she has less life experiences and not a fully developed brain so some of her decisions won’t be ones you would make. If you think they’ll be bad ones, explain what you did that was the same choice and was bad, or what friend you had who did it and it turned out bad, or what movie you saw with a morality tale in it that it went bad and you can watch the damn movie together if you have to. There’ll be stuff on youtube about it. And if you don’t have a genuine scenario, double check that you’re actually sure it’s a bad idea, not just an idea that will turn her into someone you’re not sure you want her to be. She’s going to go on her own path, and having you behind her will be a blessing for both of you.

    ALso if you do decide to go with staying as Authority Figure Mum, that’s fine too. My mum did. We didn’t talk through my teenage years and I disappeared overseas with no contact for years until I was pregnant, but we talk now I’ve had the baby. You’ll patch it up after a couple of decades. Which sounds extreme but I’m just saying if you’re in it for the long haul it still works out in the end.

    What did your mum used to do?

    • As always – thank you Manda for sharing your view.

      And I guess I want to be the first option, but with some boundaries there. I absolutely want her to share her life with me, and I love it when she engages in mine. There will be somethings that aren’t ok for me to chat with her about, but then again, I guess she will feel the same way.

      I have to also put my foot down about bedtimes, because seriously, the kid would never sleep!

      I’ve got a great relationship with my mum – she’s always been very open with me, and I with her. It’s interesting though – because my sister was similar to you; left home as soon as she was able and lived overseas for many years. They love each other – but they don’t have that same bond that I do with mum.

      Odd that two girls, same mum, yet such different results.

      Anyway – you’re right. I need to give her more credit and let her grow up a bit, without me hovering. It’s hard!
      Renee recently posted..Ten tips for beating mummy guiltMy Profile

      • She’s a wonderful girl and you’re a wonderful Mum. It will work out.

        She’s also very stubborn and will do exactly what she’s going to do unpersuadably. My boy is the same way. I have no idea if it will help but I plan on taking a preventative overeducation program with him – teaching him about condoms, STDs, defensive driving, his legal rights regarding drugs and theft and assault. He’s 5, so at the moment I can hope blithely that these things will never come up. But I am certainly going to teach him about it and make sure he carries his own phone and has important numbers memorized long before I think he needs them.

        Because if he gets into trouble in spite of my good intentions with raising him, I want him to be able to get himself out again.

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