If only we could always be this closeIt seems like ever since I birthed a girl child, I've been getting warnings (mostly unsolicited) that the teen years are going to be hell on earth. The way I see it, I have two choices. I can put up an ad on Craigslist that announces a kid for sale and let the offers roll in (ahem, that's a joke oh interwebs) or I can tell the naysayers where they can shove it.
Attention y'all. I am choosing option two. I am terrified as all get out, but I refuse to believe that this is an impossible task. Hey, I WAS a teenage girl once. And sitting here, with my 6-year-old safely ensconced in first grade, I have time to think this thing through. I have time to plan what kind of mother of a teenage girl I want to be.
And so here it is: all the advice I have for the mom I will be (or hope to be anyway) when my daughter is a teenager:
1. Makeup washes off. Tattoos do not. Pick your battles.
2. When she is learning to drive, the volume you use to correct her directly equates to the amount of pressure she puts on the gas pedal. If she's going too fast toward that pylon, perhaps screeching at the top of your lungs may not be your best option. Just sayin'.
3. The best way to make sure a boyfriend respects your rules is to show him a little respect. Invite him over. Get to know him before you judge him. Don't make him the enemy. Unless you actually want him to help your daughter sneak out and break curfew?
4. There is only one bathroom in this house. Make a schedule, in writing, and stick to it.
5. You know how you like to relax on a Friday night after a long week at work? Homework can wait until the morning. Really.
6. The doctor is a professional or you would not be using him (or her) as your family's primary care provider. It's perfectly OK for the two of them to be alone together. If you don't think she'll remember to tell him about your family's history of diabetes, give her a note. Whatever you do, do not go in that room unless she asks for you!
7. Abstinence is nice. Not being a grandmother before your kid graduates from high school is nicer. TALK about birth control, and make sure she can get a hold of some if and when the time comes (it's OK to stress that that time should be later rather than sooner).
8. When you want to tell her he's bad news, pop a piece of gum in your mouth and chew until the flavor's gone. If you still think this warning is necessary after that amount of time has passed, THEN you may say it. Her first heartbreak is going to happen sooner or later. It's better if she's still living under your roof when it happens; she's easier to hug that way.
9. Kissing does not necessarily mean sex.
10. She's right. Only dorks and losers have an 8:30 curfew.
11. Don't expect her to believe you when you say she's beautiful, but say it anyway. Remind your husband to do the same.
12. Let Daddy take her shopping. They'll spend more, but the hemlines will probably be longer.
13. You may be content in a hoodie and jeans. She doesn't have to be.
14. Extra holes in her ears are better than a trip to the ER to deal with the oozing, pussy result of a sleepover belly button piercing.
15. Depressing music doesn't mean she's suicidal.
16. No argument ever got better after the words "you look at me when I'm talking to you" were uttered.
17. The more time you spend tracking her every move, the more ways she'll find to get around being tracked.
18. An automatic no to something expensive and unnecessary doesn't do anyone any good. Throw $10 in a Mason jar and tell her it's a start; she can save for the rest. Either she'll save until she gets it, and she will at least have earned it or she'll see it's expensive and unnecessary. Finance lesson learned.
19. Babysitting is a job.
20. If she's pulling all A's in every single subject but one, there's a reason for it: the people who are stars at everything are usually really boring.
21. Don't say "I won't be mad" unless you mean it.
22. "It's our secret" means you don't tell her grandmother.
23. A 2 a.m. phone call from a slurring teenager is better than a 2 a.m. knock at the door from a sober-faced police officer.
24. You don't like it when she steals your shoes. Don't take hers without asking.
25. She's right. There are boys who are friends and boys who are boyfriends. They're not always the same thing.
What would you add to this list?
Image by Jeanne Sager