Ahhhh the mood. We don’t much need rings around here to glow blue or green giving cue to stressed, cool, nervous, very happy or normal. … And how does someone define “normal” for a tween/teen? Considering the age, normal could have a lot of ranges and we’re swinging back and forth between it all.
“Good Morning.” Mom coos as she wakes her slumbering teen girl.
“Hi Mom.” smiles the sweet child, reminding her mother of all the wonderful greetings received only a few short years earlier from her sensitive, loving child.
Only minutes later, the child makes her way downstairs to join the others for breakfast.
“How did you sleep?” greets the unassuming mother as she selflessly labors over the toaster, creating a veritable feast from Eggo waffles.
Glare. No response.
“Can I make you some waffles?”
“Okay … Do you want any breakfast.” the mother implores, getting a bit frustrated at this point with the incessant hot then cold emotional roulette.
“Make your own breakfast.” slips out of the adoring mother’s mouth. Nice.
Many a day, I’m caught walking into a room, unaware of the trap waiting for my arrival. With absolutely no rhyme or reason, I’m bound and held hostage by an emotionally manipulative tween. Who knows what I’ve done (because when beseeched for the reason, silence or “nothing” are the responses); who knows how I’ve mistreated the young lass? And on the flip side, who knows what can be done to get her out of the funk.
In fleeting moments of rational thinking (becoming further and further apart), we can talk about the major issues surrounding these frequent emotional swings. We agree that pride is at the center. (Jon thinks I throw that out as the culprit behind all the funk issues. I probably do… because it usually is. I couldn’t stop myself the other night while substitute coaching our 4th grader’s volleyball game. As tears starting flooding after a hard fought loss, I barked (yes I did … I must of thought I was home, talking to my kids … I embarrass myself often) a “no tears allowed” edict. “You’re crying because you’re either feeling sorry for yourself or you’re trying to blame yourself. Either way, you’re making it all about you. And we’re not doing that on this team. It’s a team. Not one person … blah, blah, blah.” I think my own hormones must have been flowing. Yikes.)
After calling the pride spade a spade, we then hit the honesty issue. Since “nothing” has become a favorite word,
(as in: “What’s wrong?”
“Is there something you’d like to talk about?”
“Nothing” coupled with an eye roll and flavored with a bit of a “you idiot” seasoning for good measure.)
we’ve had to address the lack of honest response. Now, I need to be sure to choose my timing – not only steering clear of the heat of the moment, but also gauging my own frustration … but still, I’m growing very weary of that word. Because something IS wrong. And a little secret behind it all – if you bring it into the light, most of the funk’s power is gone.
Okay… we could go on and on about emotional swinging. One minute agreeable and happy, the next mad and ignoring. One minute chatting and giggling with sibling, the next minute sister A moans that sister B is “mad at me.” Followed by the inevitable question from mom, “What happened?” and the now common response, “Nothing!”
The truth is, emotional swinging can be a lonely sport. It propels the swinger back and forth growing more frustrated, then angry, then indignant. This of course is followed by sadness, self-pity and the desire to be alone.
Watching this, as I so often do with my kids, I’m convicted. I do the same thing. Not to my mother like I’m sure I did when I was a teen, but definitely to God. How often do I feel mistreated, or not heard? How often do I can catch myself wanting to wallow in self pity (because it’s just not fair), or hang on to anger (because I deserve better), or slink off alone (because my husband shouldn’t have talked to me that way, or because no one sees all that I do for everyone, or because … yadda, yadda, yadda)? Don’t we all do that? Aren’t we all just a breath away from those teen years where we practiced these skills openly rather than deftly hiding them as adults.
Growing is painful. I’m watching my child try to make it about her. It’s so painfully obvious to all the bystanders.
(Case in point, I acted as score-keeper for the tween’s volleyball game on Saturday. After wishing her luck, I sighed at the response. The mother of a tween from the opposing team, keeping their score, turned to me. “What did you get?”
“Oh, the regular.”
“Eye roll and hair flip?”
“You guessed it.”
“Hormones.” she nodded.
“Yeah… isnt’ it fun?!”
What could we do but laugh.)
But when I hit the question back to me… I’m struck by the same thing. Growing is painful. I, like her, want to make it personal – about me – and wallow. As I watch my kid, try to teach her truth and help her navigate the bumps … I hope I remember that I have a heavenly father doing the same and so much more for me.
I really love my kids. Not only for all the obvious reasons (and despite the obvious reasons :), but they teach me so much about life and about myself.
Thanks for walking the road with me.