Thirteen Things To Do When Your Daughter Hates You

I sat down to write this piece many months ago, after my daughter and I were coming off a particularly nasty and heated exchange from the night before. I think it all started over a pair of pants. Why do we argue about pants so often in my house? It quickly escalated and left me exhausted and in tears. I cried myself to sleep that night as I replayed every terrible moment. I had handled it well in front of her, but I was left feeling broken and saddened by this new type of interaction that was starting to become familiar.

I assumed this future blog entry would be funny like most of the others. It was going to involve tequila shots, ideas for posting embarrassing baby photos, and suggestions as to what you might yell out the window in the carpool line at drop off. What came out instead took me by complete surprise. Instead of the jokes and playful humor I was so comfortable with sharing, I found I had listed things I had actually done over the last year to regroup and to don my armor for the next battle.

Thirteen Things To Do When Your Daughter Hates You

“Mom, I have mixed feelings about your personality.” I’ll never forget the day my then twelve-year-old daughter dropped that statement on me in a light-hearted moment. That short sentence described precisely how I had felt about her as she began to regularly test the boundaries of the mother/daughter bond.

Raising a girl who is becoming a teenager is completely new territory for me. It is one of my greatest joys, and it also breaks me on a regular basis. Untangled, in my opinion, one of the best guides to supporting girls through their adolescence journey, describes one of my jobs as being the safety wall she can push off of from time to time as she swims into new waters. As her wall, she can even grab onto me for a moment while she catches her breath after a long swim out in her world. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if I am actually the floor and not the wall. I am the thing she stomps on when everything seems unfair or too much to bear. I also provide balance when her footing isn’t completely stable. The floor is always beneath her for support, and, although she doesn’t appreciate the floor, she knows it is always there.

This girl of mine has fire. The fire of a young lady finding her way burns with an incredible heat. This fire is a wonderful gift, and I will never attempt to extinguish it completely. There is such beauty in the power of fire. It can protect you from the cold world around you. It can also help you find your way in darkness. Sometimes fire can signal to others exactly where you can be found. I like that kind of self-protection for her. Internal fire is indeed a great thing for every girl to have. The frightening thing about fire is that, when you don’t understand it, or when you use it carelessly, it can spread out of control. Without boundaries, it can destroy everything in its sight and cause great pain. The fire of a girl finding her way can do all of these things, too.

My dear child, you can show me your fire. Sometimes it is so beautiful that I secretly admire it; other times, it hurts me deeply. But I can promise you this: No matter how many times I feel the burn of your powerful flames, I will never stop loving you. My love for you will always heal the temporary wounds from your careless words and is stronger than any inferno that you have inside. When the pain is starting to overtake me, I will find healthy ways to recover and get back to you so we can heal, learn, and move forward together. I’ve embraced my role as your fire marshal, but I’ve had to create ways to take care of myself to keep both of us emotionally safe. Prayer is a given in my parenting world. I always place you there.  I’ve also found several options for the self-care that’s needed for my new role. Maybe someone else needs some encouragement and a little help with this, too. You and I are not alone in these exchanges. From what I understand, we are but two among many.

Here are thirteen things to do when your daughter hates you:

 

  1. When she is away from home, go into her room and lay in her bed. Hug her pillow the way you wish she would let you hug her. Take in her scent and surroundings and know it will get better.
  2. Walk outside, close your eyes, and let the sun shine on your face and brighten you from the outside in. Breathe deeply and slowly until you feel yourself coming down from the pain of a negative interaction. If it is cloudy or raining, say a cuss word of your choosing, go back in, and try it again tomorrow. At least you got a little fresh air.
  3. Listen closely to her cranky words filled with whine and woe. While the feelings now have words, realize she expressed these same emotions as a sobbing toddler who hopefully got a hug and some reassurance with your kind and patient ways. Can you offer that again?
  4. Go into the shower and cry harder than Meryl Streep on the big screen. Let the tears running down your face serve as the cathartic release of the pain you feel in your heart. Catch your breath and center yourself knowing you might have to go right back into battle, but you’ve got this.
  5. Look at old photos of her that bring back memories of some of your most loving and joyful moments. Keep looking until you come across the one that makes you smile or laugh out loud.
  6. Talk to someone who has already been through this and can handle seeing the worst version of your ugly, snot-filled cry face.  She will understand. If for some reason she doesn’t, keep looking for that someone.  She is out there, and she will help.
  7. Picture your daughter as a professional, adult woman using all this fight and fire in a boardroom or courtroom. Imagine how unstoppable she will be.
  8. Make her favorite dinner or dessert without a reason or an announcement. Make sure it is her – and only her – undeniable, absolute favorite and that it required some effort on your part.  Perhaps she will say she isn’t hungry and sneak a bite later. Be prepared for her to say nothing, but know she will enjoy every bite made from your loving hands.
  9. Quickly kiss her on the head as you walk by her, knowing there is a good chance she will wipe it off or say “Gross!” and that those words don’t matter.
  10. Pretend you are her raising your granddaughter. What would you hope she would do in this interaction with your future grandchild? Surely you have a new approach when thinking of it this way.
  11. Allow her to see your struggles, fears, and stress. Also let her see you work your way through it healthily. Share the vulnerable side of your life.
  12. What is your guilty pleasure? Chocolate? Doughnuts? A good red wine? Treat yourself to two, and don’t feel guilty about it!
  13. Leave a note on her bed that says, “I love you with all my heart.” These are simple but powerful words you save for a precious few. Prepare yourself to find it on the floor or in the trashcan, and leave it on the bed anyway.

Being her fire marshal is a thankless job, but it is one of the most important I will ever have. I’ll complete my term and then hand my badge, my empathy, and my time to another parent who takes on the same position. Thank you to all the women who are doing the same for me. When I retire from my fire marshal role, I’ll find other ways to spend my time.   I hope much of it is time spent in joyful moments with the fabulous young woman whom I will always be proud to call daughter.

Too Many Smells

When I reflect on all the hours I spent reading baby, toddler, and child development books, I realize there is a lot they left out. I’ve handled some pretty unique situations that have NEVER been addressed by pediatric professionals. I’d like to mention one that just can’t be my own parenting issue. My problem is I have to deal with too many smells. No one would ever see me walking down the street and think that I am a woman who struggles daily with a multitude of offensive odors. Unfortunately, it is my reality.

I’m going to choose to focus on the problem of boy smells today. I should also share that I have a boy who is barely into double digits. My assumption is my problem will only get worse as time goes on. I guess what I need from readers and friends is support. I need to know that I am not alone in this offensive battle. Because I don’t know of any support groups, I’m considering starting my own group on-line called Parents Understanding Kids’ Essences, or PUKE for short. Our PUKE meetings will begin like this, “Hi. My name is Lorissa, and it has been an hour and a half since I have interacted with a nasty smell created by my son.” It will be a safe place for people to meet and have an open discussion about how disgusting these little creatures we love so much actually are and how, despite our college degrees and abilities to run companies or work successfully within a professional community, we just don’t feel prepared to manage and control smells associated with them.

The only thing worse than one boy and his smells is a small group of boys and their collective smell. When they gather in a small space with the door shut, I cringe at the thought of what lies beyond the door. As if opening the forbidden door in a horror movie, I slowly enter their space to offer them drinks. Once again they’ve created a wall of odor that slaps me in the face upon entry! These small groups of boys have a smell I’ve not yet identified. Maybe it is like mushrooms and garlic being stored in a damp basement? Dirty wet goats at a rave in the August heat, perhaps? And, one of them always stands out more than the others. How can the other kids not notice or care? Is this the same smell block that allowed them as young children to play side-by-side with a three year old who had made a level two emergency in his pants? Yes, they never noticed that smell either.

My laundry reached a new level of grossness this summer when temperatures hovered in the high nineties and my son participated in a five-hour outdoor soccer camp. The clothes that entered the hamper that first day were like nothing I’d ever dealt with. I was certain I shouldn’t touch them with my bare hands, but the socks were in a tight, wet, oddly-shaped ball. Yes, I would have to go into those dirty soccer socks up to my elbow to prepare them for a proper wash. This was a 911 smell situation that involved moisture as well. I wasn’t trained properly for that moment. I never read that chapter!

Shoes are a smell battle of their own. I know beautiful, very hygienic people who cannot allow their kids to bring certain shoes into the home. Some will not even let their child get into the car without putting the shoes and socks in the trunk first. Do we have to live like this? It might not have been true, but I read an article a few years ago about Sharon Stone’s ex-husband getting upset that she suggested Botox shots for their son’s feet because they smelled and sweated so terribly. Sharon Freaking Stone has faced this demon as well. Let’s start a national conversation of support to get through it together. Perhaps we can get Hazmat involved and order some special equipment with a group discount.

The Shocking Truth!

 On an average week last year I walked into my son’s classroom for a quick check-in with his teacher regarding his behavior.  As I approached my seat I noticed that the room was neatly arranged in groups of four desks except for the three desks that were at the front of the room separated from the others.  Guess where I found my son’s desk?  Yes, his was front row.  In my head I celebrated that his desk was not the one pushed right against the teacher’s desk.  What the heck had that kid been doing? After the meeting I found myself reflecting on the awesome kid I was raising.  Since he was about three I have described my son as a frat party waiting to happen.  This guy has personality plus and a natural sense of humor that can match the wit of many an adult.  I can’t tell you how many times I had to bite my lip to keep from cracking a smile during a moment of discipline.  I am certain his quick wit and cute face have allowed him to get away with more than he should, not only with family but teachers as well- at least until that year.  This particular school year he had really been pushing his teacher’s limits. As I began to grow more frustrated at how often I’ve needed to have these behavior talks with him I started to dig deeper into this silly and spontaneous child whose life motto is, “Let’s see how this goes.”

My son has a long history of going for the comedic moment at both convenient and inconvenient times.  The first time I noticed it was when he was a toddler.  My husband and I were unfortunately having what was becoming a heated argument in the kitchen and our toddler suddenly stood on the coffee table and pulled his pants down to his ankles to reveal his diaper and yelled, “Ta Da!” with arms up and a pacifier clenched between his front teeth.  That was funny.  Argument over.

 Fast forward a few years and we had a three year old who grew tired of getting yelled at for scribbling on the walls with a marker so he decided to scribble on himself.  What did he decide to draw?  Body hair.  With green scribbles of both armpit and chest hairs he entered the room exclaiming he was a man.  Thank goodness he didn’t get past the chest.  For once his short attention span worked in my favor!  Shortly after that incident he entertained the entire wine aisle at the grocery store while I shopped.  In a singsong voice he walked down the aisle pointing at the bottles saying, “Mommy likes that one and that one and that one. . .” Mom got both smiles and frowns from the audience.  When once again he got in trouble for putting handprints all over the glass door I told him he was cleaning it.  As I stomped off to get the spray he called out to me while lifting his eyebrows up and down. Holding up his pointer finger he said, “Hey mom!  Do ya want me to use my Windex finger?”

 It was about this time pre-k had started and we noticed how kids gravitated to our son.  That year his teacher described him as the mayor of the class and was pleased with his willingness to help others and humor others as well.  Yes, humor was still working in his favor at that time.  He got away with some good antics in kinder, too.  However, the first week of first grade at his new private school would set the tone for his reputation as the good time kid.  Yes, on the first week of school that year he passed a note around class that said, “big big butts”.  Apparently it was hilarious to his peers.  Is anything funnier to a first grader than the word butt?  Maybe underwear but he couldn’t spell it!  Can you imagine finding that note in your child’s backpack and hearing him describe the reactions with pride?  And, how could I not laugh a little?

 And so the more calls and notes I got from school this past year the more it angered me.  Where does he get this spontaneity and goal to go for the laugh at all costs, and what am I going to do about it?  As I drove down a winding road questioning it the realization hit me so hard that I literally put my hand over my mouth and said, “Oh my gosh!”

 It was me.  Yes, I am Chuckles Sr.!  Funny 1.0.!  I can’t believe I had never put the two together.  I guess I didn’t make the connection because I never got into trouble at school.  Clearly I had more common sense and finesse when it came to my antics than my sweet boy.  My parents and brother had been entertained, and in the case of my little brother victimized, for many years before I made my public debut.  My mom was never invited to the type of conferences I was attending.  How could I have forgotten that girl?

 I think my humor debut came to the general public around age fourteen. During my algebra test in tenth grade I sang the jingle from the Playtex tampons commercial note for note under my breath.  I nailed it.  Everyone around me laughed and the teacher finally had to come stand on our side of the room because she couldn’t figure out what was going on.  Did I mention I didn’t do well in algebra?  The fun continued when my physical science teacher didn’t show up for class my junior year.  Good old Mr. M, AKA the scariest teacher in school.  What is a girl to do when her teacher doesn’t show up?  I decided to stand behind his desk with my back to the science closet and do a spot on impression of his class opening.  I was killing it.  Everyone was laughing until they all became silent at once.  “What’s the problem?” I asked in his voice.  Just as I asked I turned to see that the closet door had opened behind me and that there was actually a connection to the other classroom allowing him to slip in unnoticed.  There he was RIGHT behind me.  I know he knew my impression was perfection because he almost smiled for the first time ever and only asked me to take a seat rather than giving me a detention.  You have no idea how it tortured me to not thank him for coming out of the closet.  And, that was just high school.  Good judgment at school?  Not always. To this day I still do and say some pretty ridiculous things spontaneously, and I still love a good dare.   It was long ago but there was a time when the party didn’t start until I arrived.  Naturally life has evolved to be more about family than parties and fun just as it should be.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I just can’t believe I had forgotten all about that girl.

 Some of my best humor moments are lost in time, but I know they are out there.  I’ve been very selective about the ones I’ve shared today in hopes of keeping a little dignity.  Oh my, the truth does hurt sometimes, doesn’t it? Yes, in this case, it even took my breath away.  And so here I am raising a smaller and wilder version of my comedic self with far less self-control.  I am certain his best work is yet to come, and I just hope it is never mean spirited or requires the involvement of law officials.   For now this pot will continue to encourage her little kettle to make good choices, think through his ideas before putting them into action, and then look in the mirror and repeat the same to myself.

 Have you ever had a moment of realization that your child has taken on one of your characteristics or habits?  Feel free to comment.

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*Photo by glitterednest.com

Things I’d Like To Stop Doing in 2017!

 

With the New Year, most people make a resolution or two. In my effort to transition from extrovert to introvert – ask me how that’s going – my quieter, more observant self has come to find I have some terrible habits that I want to rid myself of in 2017. My resolutions aren’t about things I want to do. Instead, I have several things I don’t want to do anymore!

First, I always announce my shower to the entire family. Why do I still do this? I think the origin of the announcement came when I had very small children and I needed to let my hubby know he was the only parent on duty.   Now that I have a thirteen-year-old and ten-year-old, why do I still make the shower declaration? My husband never announces his showers. Ever. My announcements only allow for negative parenting situations. There are typically three scenarios. Option one has a child banging on the door repeatedly because he or she needs to know where the remote is or if I bought apples or something equally important. I then scream an answer and begin talking to myself in the shower about these crazy kids. Option two happens the moment I turn off the water. Instantly, there is banging at the door with tattling or an update to share that the place I suggested for finding the remote or apples did not actually turn up the remote control or apples. Option three, the absolute worst scenario, has to do with the fact that my shower shares a wall with a hallway in the family area. My kids have learned that banging on the wall and screaming into the wall are effective means of communication when I have chosen to ignore the banging on the door (from option one above). This approach is typically saved for times when pretty serious stuff is going down. There I am, in relaxed shower mode, when suddenly I hear knocking on the wall and mumbled complaining. Yes, they cup their hands and scream into the wall! This causes an immediate change in my appearance. Visualize a female version of the Hulk but with mascara running down her green face. I go from quiet reflective time in the shower to Hulk in two seconds flat. I find myself screaming horrible things like, “You’d better be bleeding!” or “If I come out of this shower to deal with you, you’d better be so hurt you need assistance with dialing 911.” Yes, I don’t want to announce showers any more. In 2017 I will become a stealth shower ninja.

Second, I have a terrible cooking habit. It is even worse than my actual cooking, and that is pretty bad. Every time I stir a pot on the stove, I bang the spoon on the side of the pot in the same rhythm before I put it on the spoon rest. I mean every single time. Why do I do this? My husband pointed it out to me, and I’ve come to realize that I really do need to make that same rhythm every time. It is annoying to me, so I can’t even imagine what he thinks. I think I will experiment with new rhythms and then transition slowly to a single tap. I think.

Third, I no longer want my kids eating in my car. I am done with this. When I was a kid, I rode the bus home. I managed not to eat on the bus and to survive until I entered my own kitchen.  It was tough, but I hung in there. Didn’t you? I pick up my kids from school every day, and the first thing I get isn’t a “hello” or “how was your day.” It is always the same: “What did you bring me to eat because I am starving!?” Starving? Strangely, I don’t see any signs of starvation in either child. They appear quite healthy looking to me. Yet a twenty-minute ride home without food is too much to bear. There are so many wrappers, crumbs and morsels of food in my car that a family of raccoons could easily survive in there for two weeks, maybe even a month. The sight of my own floorboards horrifies me. I’m pretty sure there are still floorboards down there somewhere. I can’t believe I didn’t cancel all car snacks about six months ago. We were sitting at a stoplight when I reached down to take a sip out of my water bottle. I quickly noticed something was odd about my water. I swallowed and said, “That’s so weird. My water tastes just like popcorn.” With a shocked look my child says, “Mom, I’ve been spitting my popcorn kernels into your water.” Yes, I am officially done with car snacks in 2017.

Finally, any child announcing to me at 6:40 a.m. on a school day that he or she doesn’t have any clean underwear is grounded. I do laundry every 2-3 days. How is this possible? Where is all your underwear? Did you not know you were out of underwear when you got out of the shower last night? What did you wear to bed? Wait, don’t answer that.

So, in 2017, I am making some adjustments for a happier version of me. I hope all the change doesn’t give me some sort of mental breakdown. If my kids reach out to you for help after they find me in my shower banging a rhythm on a cooking pot while rinsing out underwear, all you have to do is knock real hard on the hallway wall. That will make me come out so we can call 911 together. I wonder if I can have a snack in the ambulance? I think I have some apples.