Dead Fish Stares and Eye-Rolling

MjAxMi1kOWVmMThhZDM2OWZhNzFhThere has never been, nor will there ever be, an experience in the universe more humbling or demoralizing than parenting a teenager.

In the interest of keeping it real and not just painting a pretty picture for the general public, as they say people do on social media and the like, let me say that today is July 28th. School starts in 23 days. I know the four years of high school are going to go faster than the other eight years preceding. I don’t want to rush what remains of the Divine Miss M’s childhood. But (and this seems key) I do want everyone in my house to survive.

Please God, Goddess, Allah, Buddha, any higher (or at this point lower) power anywhere, please oh please let school start soon.

There is no way to prepare yourself for teenagers, even on a daily basis. Asking a direct, and seemingly innocuous, question turns into accusations of ‘snooping’ into their business and there are no answers to anything that do not come with enough attitude to choke the recipient.

Honestly, at this point, I’d pay money to go 24 hours without being faced with what I long ago dubbed the ‘dead fish stare’ – they’re technically looking at you but their eyes are half-closed, just looking through you and the only possible activity going on behind those dead eyes is that of purposely not listening to you.

Or, there is always the look that comes with folded arms, head cocked to the side and eyebrows raised like you’ve just said either the stupidest or most offensive thing they’ve ever heard.

I have a hard time deciding between which I loathe more: dead fish, cocked head or eye-rolling.

I am consistently at a loss as to how one minute I can be having a normal conversation and without any warning whatsoever, I’m in the middle of an argument before I even know what happened, or why.

And then there are the reactions received when they’re told to do something. Anything.  Putting away their clean clothes (that someone else laundered) or loading/unloading the dishwasher (after someone else provided cooked meals). Perhaps, given the apparently unreasonable and inhumane nature of those tasks, a negative reaction is understandable?

I really don’t see how she’s ever going to hold down a job.

Two summers ago, Miss M went to a two-week sleepaway camp. Last year, she went to Oklahoma to visit family and friends for two and a half weeks. This year, she stayed home. Last night I concluded this was clearly a tactical error on our part.

Then I wondered what it says about us as parents when I question the wisdom of three months of uninterrupted time with our child.

I have begun to accept the fact we are basically just not very good at the parenting thing.  We seem to have succeeded only in creating a monster with a sense of entitlement so large, I can no longer traverse it to meet her.  Now I just want to survive and hope that we can, purely by accident, produce an even marginally productive adult.

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5 Responses to Dead Fish Stares and Eye-Rolling

  1. Cellist says:

    Now you have terrified me, because you just described my THREE year old girl, who will be a teenager in only 10 years, and apparently even worse then. 🙁 🙁 🙁

    I’m scared. Hold me.

    • Jen says:

      Oy, I can’t lie and say there is anything easy about it. I recall M’s three year old year as challenging, mostly because the often referenced “terrible twos” seemed really easy in comparison. The teenage years have definitely been trying – an understatement to a ridiculous degree. However, in between the worst moments, there are amazing moments watching them grow into adults, slowly but surely. They start finding their own interests, passions and thoughts separate and apart from your family unit. It’s pretty rare that a teenager is as rude and difficult to deal with to third parties as they are to parents, and I sort of get that because they are establishing separation from us and they’re (hopefully) secure enough that they’re pushing of boundaries happens at home. Not to mention they’re generally a mess of hormonal changes and rampant emotions. Knowing that doesn’t always make it easier to deal with as it’s happening, but those amazing moments in between make it worth it. It try to hang on to those. Some days I’m better at it than others.

  2. The Labor Coach says:

    It’s not forever. It will just seem like it. I promise – on both counts.

    • May says:

      This is exactly what I wanted to say – it will not last forever! I was a nightmare teenager, and I have grown out of it. Asking a teenager to do anything at all is indeed a deeply cruel and inhumane thing to do because they’re so deep within their own brains (/far up their own backsides, depending on your perspective…) that being asked to help with something feels like being slapped round the face and hauled bodily from their safe little world. But hey, it’s character building!

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