In case you had not heard ... teenagers are not humans. Their brains have been taken captive and their thought processes altered. Outwardly they appear much as they did before they turned 13, but, inside their heads a radical change has occurred. This does not happen overnight. In order to fool parents, siblings, teachers and even family pets, the mutation is subtle. Symptoms can at first be mild, and often go unnoticed. A desire to please slowly dissolves, a willingness to help gradually disappears. These two qualities are stealthily replaced by apathy and resentment. These in turn are apt to evolve into anger and defiance. A child who fibbed occasionally, mildly, inconsequentially, now lies through her braces. Wet shoes by the back door are not the result of midnight assignations with the latest hookup but a mere slip of the memory: “I forgot to bring them in”. A missed bus when told to come straight home from school is not because she is getting to third base on his sofa while his mother is at work but a study hour in the library: “I’m just finishing my Math homework, I’ll be on the late bus.”
Lies are natural. We all lie. I lied to my Mother, and, come to think of it, I still do. (Now I would call it protecting her rather than protecting me!) But lies teenagers tell are different. They are a new breed; a mutation. My daughter claims she lies because if she told me the truth I would not let her do what she has lied in order to do. Teenage logic. The circle of trust v. mistrust. If I trust you to do the right thing, I will let you do it, but you have proved in the past that you cannot be trusted to do the right thing, so I will not let you do it. Therefore you have to lie to me in order to do it. Therefore I no longer trust you.
The alien life form which has invaded my child will, I am told, eventually release her. But never back to me. She will never again be my sweet little girl. The unconditional Mummy-Cuddles, (now temporarily replaced with straight-backed-no-arms-one-sided hugs), will not return. There will be the occasional spontaneous embraces, shared laughter, chat, and an abundance of memories, good and bad. That is for the future. When we get there.
For now, I struggle on, looking forward to Christmas, but not sure what she will make of it. Will she allow herself to be happy? Her sisters will be joyful, but wary of her moods. I have to wonder at the wisdom of spending money on someone so selfishly ungrateful (and then feel like an ungenerous scrooge for my lack of grace and compassion towards this captive teenage soul) We muddle on, the parenting a teenage journey only just begun. Rough waters ahead, but we have life-floats aplenty! And I will get her to smile on Christmas Day!
- I have been married to Andy since 1991, we have 4 daughters, 2 dogs, 2 cat, 4 rabbits (and various baby rabbits) and a hamster (not dead). We have lived in the U.S.A since 2000, and are citizens of the U.K. I miss many things about the U.K.(pubs, old buildings, red post boxes, church bells,narrow roads, a good joint of roast lamb with mint sauce, to name but a few) but I have grown to love the U.S.