I'm keeping a secret from my family and friends, and it's not the fact that I haven't seen my real hair color in about 15 years. It's the fact that I write for Mid-CenturyModernMoms. When I started posting here, I didn't tell anyone the name of this blog, although I did tell them that I was going to be writing something weekly.
I decided this because I wanted to be able to write anything without fear of judgment from those who knew me best (or thought they did). I wanted to be really honest here, and I knew I couldn't do that if I thought the people closest to me would be reading it.
I have to say, this choice is a double-edged sword. On one hand, I'm glad I can write what I want without hesitation. On the other hand, there are some entries I would like my mother or my sister or my best friend to read and respond to. And of course, I would love to bring traffic to a blog I think deserves to be read, and not just for my posts.
And then there's the issue of letting Leah read what I've written, after all, mostly everything I've written here is about her. Before I started posting here I asked her if she would mind me writing about our relationship, and she said she wouldn't. But when she asked if she could read the posts, I said no. Well, what I really said was not yet. I asked her if she would wait a year or two, so that we weren't in the thick of things, so to say, when she read these entries. It's not that I don't want her to read them, I just think she needs some time and distance from the events, so she can gain a little perspective on them.
So far, I've been happy with my decision, and if I change my mind, I can always tell people the name of the blog. But I think I'm going to keep it my little secret for now.
Also known as, all the reasons why I won't let Leah have an AIM account, or a MySpace page, or even an email account.
Welcome to our ongoing argument, in which Leah tries to convince me that everyone else in the world has an AIM account, and I'm the meanest mom in the world, and her life will end if she can't chat on the computer with the same people she sees for six hours in school every day, and also did she mention I'm the meanest mom in the world?
I tell her that she doesn't need another reason to remain sitting during the day. Leah would gladly sit and read, surf around on her computer or watch television during her her free time, (which is whatever's left of the day after her homework and chores are done). As it is already, the computer can suck her into a time-management black hole, and I don't want to encourage that. I would rather she incorporate some physical activity into her day, and usually if I (sometimes strongly) suggest a walk with the dog or on the treadmill, she'll get up and get some exercise.
The second reason, and the one I have more trouble explaining to her, is that I think, based on experiences with my friends who have older teens, these forms of technology can lead to trouble in friendships and in other social situations. I know that people will argue that Leah will have to learn to navigate these waters eventually, and I agree, I just don't think that she has to do it now, in seventh grade. I don't think she's mature enough to not fall into the peer-pressure trap, of saying or agreeing to things just to be cool, and I'm not sure she realizes yet that words typed on the computer still have the power to hurt feelings. And I know, based on my conversations with other parents, that many of her peers are having trouble with these issues already.
On the other hand, I don't want to isolate Leah from her friends, I don't want to make my daughter a social pariah (this particular not-helpful point coming from my husband). How do I know she's ready for this next step? And can anyone guarantee she won't get her feelings hurt? Not likely with teen-age girls, I know.
However, also helping to make my point is the fact that she does have a cell phone, and she can text her friends, with the stipulation that I read all texts, and only I can delete them. Most of these texts consist of "What u doin", "Nuttin, u?", "So bored", you get the idea. You can see why I'm not exactly convinced she needs to continue these brilliant conversations using any other form of technology.
My daughter and I decided to attempt round two of clothes shopping for a teenaged girl, also known as the "Mooommmm, WHY" Wars. Let's just say I won the war, but Leah did not go gently. Our mission was to procure shorts and possibly a pair of capris.
I guess the problem was that Leah and I have wildly differing opinions about the definition of "too tight". What she declares "comfortable", puts me on automatic wedgie patrol, and I have visions of buttons popping off at the most inopportune times, like, at the board in math class or in the security line at the airport. I can just see a wayward button zinging the ear of a security guard, and taking with it any chance of us boarding our plane in a timely manner
So as we battled in the dressing room, I pulled out the "I'm not buying those clothes with my money" card, and she threw out the "fine, then I'm not getting anything" card, so I played the "fine, go on vacation naked, I don't care" trump card and of course then she caved. Heh. Mortification always works on teens.
Of course, in the end, she walked out of the store with shorts, a dress and flip-flops. So she won't be naked on vacation, and I won't be picturing pants disasters in the security line. But, stay tuned for round three, or "Child, you are not going out in public in that!", a.k.a., The Great Bathing Suit Battle.
I guess I can't blame her, because I was (am? when is this post due again?) the same way, but Leah's procrastination in going to give me (more) grey hair before this school year is done. She was up until almost 11:00 pm the other night, finishing a science project. A project she had known about for weeks, and the rough draft was already written and corrected! It didn't help that she managed to somehow turn off her internet access on her computer, so that took about a half an hour of trouble-shooting, which meant of course she couldn't be working during that time.
She started her homework right after school, so I don't know where the time went that day. Every time I checked on her, she was working, and she doesn't have email or IM, so she wasn't being distracted that way. Who knows what she was thinking about all that time, not techniques for keeping her room clean, that's for sure. I guess it doesn't matter how much of a head start she gets on a project, she really doesn't buckle down and do the work until the pressure is on. Hmm, sounds familiar.
Procrastination is a terrible habit that I don't want to encourage in Leah, but then again, I always felt I wrote better projects and papers in college when I was under pressure. I guess what I'm really complaining about is the fact that I feel I have to stay up with her to make sure everything gets done. Her bad habit is cutting into my beauty sleep!
Oh, the unpredictability of a tween girl meltdown. At our house, the storms are few and far between, thankfully, but when they do happen, they're spectacular. We had the pleasure of weathering one last Sunday, I think the last one was back in August, so we were probably due. This one was about ice skates, on the surface, but you know that's never the real reason. I can't even pretend to understand the pubescent turmoil behind these explosions, I don't even know if Leah knows what she's really upset about, I just know once the storm starts, there's no stopping it. The only thing we can do is retreat to our corners, and give Leah space, let her get it out, let her calm down.
Unfortunately, the time it happened back in August, we were about to leave on a four-hour road trip. So retreat was not possible. Once we got her in the car (which took almost an hour of arguing, cajoling and threatening) we had another 45 minutes (in an enclosed space, mind you) of crying, even screaming at points, until she finally got whatever was bothering her out of her system. I guess the silver lining for me was, unlike toddler tantrums, this one I could almost ignore. I knew she wasn't in physical pain, wasn't hungry, didn't need a diaper change. I even joked to my husband about earplugs and/or drugs, although that comment earned me another 15 minutes of thunder from Leah.
This time, though, when the clouds began gathering, we just let Leah stay home, and the rest of us went to skate. And when we came back, the storm had passed. Leah was in her room, reading quietly, and she greeted me with a half-smile on her face. It made me sad that she missed the family outing, but it made me even sadder to realize I need to learn to handle this situation better. We won't always be able to walk away and let her calm down. It didn't have to go this way, and I've got to get better at recognizing her signs of distress and defusing the situation before it escalates. I know this isn't going to be the last storm on the horizon. Hopefully, the next time one rolls in, I'll be a better weatherman, and I'll be able to change the forecast to sunshine.
Leah was home sick today. This was her first sick day this school year, she's usually a pretty hardy kid. Of course, it also could have something to do with the fact that, in my house, a sick day is not necessarily a fun day at home. Unless you've demonstrated that you're truly sick, i.e. barfing, fever, green snot, you stay in bed, in your room, the whole day. No TV, no computer, no cell phone to text friends, just you and your books. Wait, actually that sounds like paradise to me, but not to my tween daughter. This policy is to discourage those "Ferris Bueller" days, those days she just "doesn't feel like going to school." Fortunately for her, those days are few and far between.
Complicating the sickness issue, is the fact that she refuses to take any medicine. In any form. Well, scratch that, she used to take chewable Motrin. But for her weight now, she has to take so many little orange tablets, she's overwhelmed before she starts. And we long ago passed the stage where I could trick her by hiding medicine in something else. I don't feel any sympathy for her though, I know she could learn to swallow pills if she really tried. I even bought her those tiny M&Ms to practice on. So far though, taking medicine is a no go. Which, ironically, is exactly how I feel about medicine. I rarely take any myself, I prefer feeling miserable to the side effects of cold medicine. It usually makes me so jittery I can't sleep at night.
So Leah spent the day in her room, reading and sleeping. I guess she really was sick, because she didn't eat much all day and didn't complain about having nothing to do. By the end of the day, she said she felt better and she believes "sleep is the best medicine". Ha. My thoughts exactly.
We've just made the decision to send Leah to sleep-away camp this summer. She'll be thirteen when she goes, and her bags are packed and ready to go right now. I don't think it's possible for her to be more excited. My husband started to go to camp at about this age, he went for years, he was even a camp counselor during his summer breaks in college. In fact, I remember driving up to his camp on parent's visiting day, the one day I got to see him for a whole summer.
I was split between two camps (see what I did there?) about this decision. My head said let her go, it's right up her alley, it's a performing arts camp, with plenty of activity choices for her. She loves to make new friends, she loves to perform, and it's only for three weeks. My heart said mah baybeee! As you can see, my cooler head prevailed on that one.
Now we wait and mark the time until July. Leah watches the DVD the camp sent 17 times a day, and I start labeling her underwear. That's about the only thing I know about sleep-away camp -- label your stuff. I think I might let her father handle the packing for this one. Or maybe not. I'm picturing her on her first day, opening a duffle bag filled with eleven white t-shirts, one pair of underwear (with no name!) and one lonely sock.