Thursday, August 16, 2012

3 going on 13

This is a question for mothers of teenage girls who might read this blog. How do you do it? Handle them, I mean? I'm asking because I think its happening to me sooner than I had imagined. Sooner by about 10 years. Let's examine this objectively. Below are some things I have heard about teenage girls:

1. They like to argue. Check.
2. They have strange and very sudden mood swings. Check.
3. They are always right. Check.
4. They DO NOT back down. Check.
5. They can make you want to gnaw your arm off in frustration. Check.
6. You just don't know where you stand with them sometimes. Check.
7. It's their way or the highway. Check.

Been there, doing that everyday.

See what I mean? It's all on the list and it's all checked.

Meanwhile, in a different room:
My little (shall we generously call her a pre-teen?) Tara smiles wickedly as she reads this and says, "you ain't seen nothin yet, peasants. Muhahaha."

Let me be fair and say it like it really is (of course I'm afraid that Tara will read this some day. Very, very afraid.) For the most part, as long as she is well fed, well rested, and being given a hundred percent of the love and attention currently available, she is a dream. She's sweet, gentle, funny, fun, playful, self sufficient, and happy. Problem is, all of the above is not always an option. Especially the love and attention part. There's an evil older sibling constantly taking some of that away. Some of it is his right, she concedes gracefully. She can't deny him that 1%. But the other 99% must be guarded and fought for every minute. Relentlessly. As suggested by Sun Tzu in The Art of War.

Evilness of older sibling is problem number one. Her own strong opinions are problem number two. Vijay used to accuse me of having too many opinions at one time. He finds it amazing, for example, that I have so much to say to the florist when I go to pick up a simple bunch of flowers. The type of flowers, type of ferns, which part of the stock the cello tape should be stuck to hold them together, how tightly the bunch should be put together, what height the cellophane wrapping should be at, the kind of cellophane it should be, the type of ribbon, how the ribbon should be cut, and so on. Men just don't understand. He, in complete contrast, has been known to go to a florist (only when forced at gunpoint), ask for a bunch of flowers, and proceed to check his messages while the florist has a field day with the flowers. His conversation goes something like this:

Bhaiya - thode flowers dedo.
Sir, kaunse?
200 rupaye main jo bhi mil jaaye
Sir, roses hain. Carnation hain. Gerbara hain.
Sab dedo - mix kar ke. Thoda pack kar dena.

I think it's safe to say Tara's opinion gene has come from me. She has a lot of them, on every topic, and she's not afraid to give them a good airing. Whether you agree with her at any given point or not will determine the status of your friendship with her at that point. She will frown, point, and announce that she's not your friend, or smile, point, and announce that you are her friend as the case may be. The fact that you may have been declared her best friend a few minutes ago does not, however, grant you any sort of immunity. You're just as likely as the next offender to be written up in her black book. The black book is a terrible place to be. Because then you need to identify what it is you did wrong and apologize for it. Without this crucial step, life will not be normal again. If you ever cross paths with her, please remember this piece of advice. It's like a wet paint sign you really should just believe.

Meanwhile, in a different room:
Tara frowns and says, "Main aapki friend nahin hoon. Aap gandi girl ho."

I just wonder at how this little girl can already have so many little complexities...strong and soft, sure of herself and needing approval, opinionated and earnest, assertive and insecure, angry and smiling, independent and needy, pushing you away and pulling you to her, all at the same time.

I had left the kids for about 10 days last month and gone away on the trip of a lifetime to Ladakh (that's another story for another time!) While I was away, Tara refused to talk to me...she was always busy when I would call and Vijay and my friends told me she was happy and there was no problem. She seemed happy and light and all indications were that she couldn't care less that I was away. When I got back, there were no theatrics. She was happy to see me, happy to get a present from me, and happy to give me a big hug and then go back to whatever she had been doing. About 2 weeks after I came back, before she fell asleep at night, in a moment when being vulnerable seemed alright, she told me, "Mamma, jab aap Nadakh chale jaate ho to main aapko bhot miss karti hoon. Phir aap kyun chale jaate ho? Mujhe bilkul achcha nahin lagta." Sigh.

All pre-teens can mess with your mind like this, I know. But are they all this lovable?

Meanwhile, in a different room:
Tara smiles shyly and says, "I love you three, mamma."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gosh. How do you do this every time? Without fail? Am just a hopeless smile. Every time I read a new blog entry.

Love it all, bunches.