Welcome to the teenage years.
Recently I had the opportunity to share a story as a featured storyteller for Story Story Night. You can listen to that story here. Basically it was the true confession of one of my most horrific parenting days in a 5 year history of some pretty memorable parenting days. Afterward, MULTIPLE people came up to me and offered the same sentiments in regard to my crazy children I had just publicly described. Often times they touched my shoulder while breaking the news to me. One woman hushed her voice so the other attendees wouldn’t overhear. Whatever their mannerisms, their message was universal and clear: Just wait until they become teenagers. I nervously laughed, and thanked them for this genuine, but slightly untimely warning.
The warning wasn’t untimely because my children are only 5 and 3 and I have years to bask in toddler tantrums before moving on to the horrors of living with two teen girls. It was untimely because I am already parenting a teenager. She may be a five year old with a sweet smile and a nervous habit of repeating things back to herself in a whisper after she speaks them, but I assure you that inside there is a full blown, wildly dramatic, inconsolable teenager.
I was a teen librarian long enough to recognize the symptoms. Plus, I suffered a pretty severe case of teenagerdom myself so I’m quick to pick up on the warning signs.
Kissing on the playground: check.
Notes sent home from school: check.
Phone calls from teachers about bad attitudes: check.
She can’t officially drive yet, but she did think she’d be learning how in Kindergarten this year.
And then this weekend, worse than ANY of that, she had the nerve to say this to me.
She was mad because I said she will likely never own a DS (this is a video game thingy for you non-gamers out there). I calmly explained that video games are expensive, and we are already very lucky to have a wii that we can play fun dancing games on. I don’t think I even threw the terms “children in Africa”, “economic inequities” or “privileged nations” in there even once, so truly it was a calm conversation. She didn’t take the news well. However, instead of throwing an enormous tantrum like she would have done in the past, she glared at me from across the room and uttered some words that by choice or chance were barely audible.
“I’m sorry Ev. When you hiss like that, I can’t actually hear you.”
“I SAID I HATE READING!”.she screamed.
Yep. Just like that. Out of nowhere my 5 year old pulls out the one phrase that will shoot barbed daggers into my skull. When she didn’t get her way, my ingenious child told a Children’s Librarian that she hates reading. She knew the power of those words and even more alarming, she knew the reaction it would get out of me.
I wish I could say I out smarted her. I wish I could report back that I had fought the “I hate reading” battle and returned to my couch victorious. I wish I could say that I didn’t blurt out something like “Evan, every time you say that a librarian somewhere dies!” followed by “OK. Maybe they don’t die,but they lose their job. Or maybe a book burns.I don’t remember anymore. But something REALLY bad happens”. Hmmph. Do you think I could call it a draw?
I could be in trouble. Do you think I could ask her to start throwing tantrums again?