I have glimpsed my future, and I am afraid. I’m speaking of course about parenting teenagers, particularly girls. Recently, I’ve been treated to a preview of what my life will be like in a few short years. Someone help me.
My husband and I insist that our children play a sport, and our 11-year-old daughter hasn’t really found anything to her liking. Soccer lasted a few years until the practices became too intense, while volleyball and gymnastics were dropped after only six weeks. She shot down tennis, her twin brother denied her swimming (that’s his sport), and we decided not to press for ice hockey. That left cross country.
Three weeks before the season began, I took her out jogging, knowing she needed some prep work. She made it a half mile before the tears appeared, along with emphatic requests to stop. I reacted with tough love, then empathetic encouragement and finally outright bribery. Nothing worked. When this pattern continued for our next few runs, I suggested she reconsider ice hockey. “No! I want to run cross country!” Okay.
Her attitude oscillated more extremely once official team practices started. She’d be sick to her stomach with anxiety beforehand, begging me to let her skip “just this once,” but when I’d pick her up afterwards, she’d say she was starting to like it. By nightfall, we’d be back to hating cross country. Ugh – this was too confusing. Sick to my stomach from her indecision, I caved. “But you’ll have to tell your coaches in person and find another sport to play.” (I am not above using guilt and manipulation to my advantage.)
Two days before D-Day, I was met with nothing short of a tantrum. She was not going to practice, period, and I couldn’t make her! Wanna bet? I ignored her hysterical weeping and demanded she get her fanny into the van. She cried the entire way there, periodically stomping her feet and shrieking, “I’m not going! I hate it! I hate it!” Though she stopped short of actually screaming “I hate you!” the sentiment was definitely implied.
To her credit, she managed to pull herself together and complete practice. Then she announced she was officially joining. What? Who? What happened to, “I hate you for making me do this!”? But such is the emotional roller coaster of a teenage girl. And she’s only 11. I’m so in trouble. Peace out.