And I was reminded that I often blurt things out without consulting The Proper Parenting Handbook.
Here’s what happened.
My daughter came home upset that she wasn’t invited to her friend’s upcoming birthday party.
“What?!” I shrieked. “But you guys play all the time!”
“Yeah,” she said sadly. “She just didn’t want to invite ME.”
“What a little bitch!” I said.
Lesson one: Ten-year-old girls can be bitches too.
Another day after school, my daughter came home even more upset that her puka shell necklace–her prized $3 purchase from our trip to Hawaii–broke into 200 puka shell pieces. She was planning to wear it all year, to remember our wonderful family vacation. A boy had grabbed her necklace from her neck (!), sending puka shells scattering.
“What an asshole!” I exclaimed. “Let’s get him to apologize.” That seemed to make her feel better.
Lesson two: Calling someone an asshole for asshole behavior automatically makes you feel better.
And I offered, “Oh, Sweetie, I know that was special to you. I could buy you another one but it wouldn’t be the same, would it?”
“No,” she lamented. “That was my special necklace.”
Lesson three: Some valuable things can’t be replaced, because the value is in the memories.
I may not say all the right things. I may say some very wrong things. But I always try to talk things out with my daughter. Even if an obscenity pops out from time to time.
My daughter decided to chop off eight inches of her hair while we were on vacation. I (mostly) try to support her when she makes her own decisions. So, a visit to SuperCuts in Kihei, Maui, and 25 minutes later: done.
Why did she do it?
a. She wanted a change.
b. She likes to make her own decisions.
c. Her hair was so tangled from salt water and chorine that she was forced to cut it.
They say a tween is the age between middle childhood and adolescence, usually between eight and 12 years old. I have one of those. She turns 10 today.
She is full of life. She is radiant. She is blooming.
In her room, you’ll find her surrounded with 52 stuffed animals that smile down on her. Bunnies, a leopard, dogs, elephants, owls, an alligator, monkeys, bears, dragons, even a sloth. An “animals of the world” wall poster takes up half her room. Where do pygmy marmosets live? Ah, now I know.
A bookshelf with Dork Diaries, Judy Moody, Judy Bloom, A Secret Garden, and old favorites Pinkalicious, Fancy Nancy, The Giving Tree, Goodnight Moon, and Curious George. Dusty soccer trophies since she was four.
Posters with horses galloping in snow, in water. One white horse smiles with a pink rose in her mouth.
A red horse stable in the corner with Breyer horses of all sizes sits next to her cash register for playing store.
On her desk is a bin with 200 markers and thick drawing pads, Origami papers for new birds to form, and a sewing machine waiting for new creations. She has mastered purses and animal tails. Tails? To pin on her skirts, of course.
Her dresser spills over with earrings. Her ears were pierced on her ninth birthday. Cute penguins, hearts, butterfly earrings. Trendy dangly feather earrings.
Her iPod is docked by her bed. My alarm skills are no longer required. Adele songs fill her playlist. She knows all of the words.
Drawers are filled with cheetah-print leggings, polka-dot miniskirts, and t-shirts with puppies. She is a colorful being with her own sense of style.
She plays with her puppy every chance she gets. She shops for new earrings. She jumps rope at recess. She draws fanciful dragons. She wears adult-sized shoes; we are nearly the same size. She bakes cookies with me. She likes to cuddle up by her Dad to watch volleyball. She dresses up in capes, wings, and tails and flies through the house with her little brother. She watches The Simpsons with her big brother. She could easily stay up past midnight on weekends if we let her. She plays an aggressive game of soccer. She makes fairy houses out of twigs.
My girl-child-tween-tween is 10 today. This is just the beginning of her blooming.
The girl? My daughter when she was five, who was scared to perform at her tap dance recital.
She wore shiny, patent-leather tap shoes. Her hair was in “doughnuts” with ribbons. Her father, siblings, and grandparents were all in the audience waiting. And she wouldn’t budge. She had stage fright.
The handprint “tattoo?” Uh, that was from me. From gripping her wrist. Just before she was supposed to go on, I tried sweet-talking her. Encouraging her. Bribing her.
So, I transformed into Mommie Dearest. I gripped her wrist tightly and hissed under my breath:
She did not argue. She did the routine with the others. There was no smile on her face. Were those tears in her eyes?
Ugh. Pit in my stomach. I felt horrible for the way I acted. I returned to my seat. And clapped when she was done. But I was pissed at myself. Why did I let a stupid little tap dance recital take priority over being supportive and reassuring? And kind?
Her “tattoo” quickly faded. But I’m not sure if my actions did.
We have talked about this. I apologized with tears in my eyes. My daughter forgave me.
Yet I wonder if she will remember the Mommie Dearest behavior long after the shuffle-hop-step fades. Because a mother’s words and actions are like a tattoo.
You know how Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton wore vials of each other blood around their necks?
Well, my daughter and I wear vials of silver glitter around our necks–they are pendants of sorts–with the word SHINE written in calligraphy nestled inside.
Quirky art pieces we bought at a local antique store on Mother’s Day.
And while not as headline-making as the vials of blood, these vials are magical. And they have special powers.
What are their powers? They make us feel special, especially when we wear them in unison.
As we were selecting the necklaces, I told my daughter something like this: “You are special. You are full of light. You shine. Wear this proudly and with confidence. Don’t let anyone put you down and take your shine away.”
That message is important and the necklaces serve as reminders, in case we forget or in case we are having a crappy day. Because of that, they are worth infinitely more than the $15 we sprang for each one. In fact, they are priceless.
Why can’t we be friends? Well, I tried. But she was a bitch.
Here is how it went down.
My daughter met a friendly girl in her third-grade class. Annie* was another turquoise-leggings-wearing child with a quirky sense of humor. Oh goody, a new friend for my daughter! My daughter got Annie’s number and plans were soon made for a play date.
A few days later, I called Annie’s mother, Nancy.*
Nancy and I clicked! She was so nice. We were the same age. We swapped stories. There was laughter. We were both mothers, juggling work and activities. Oh goody, I may have found a new friend too!
We scheduled the girls’ play date for a few days later. Annie and her mother came over and I invited them in and gave them a tour of our home. The girls giggled and ran upstairs and instantly began organizing a puppet show.
Then, Nancy handed me an AdvoCare sample. And that’s when all the trouble began.
Turns out she is an AdvoCare distributor. AdvoCare is all about energy-boosting supplements and vitamins to give you more energy, lose weight, and “improve your performance.” I later learned that Nancy is pretty famous infamous in our neck of the woods. A power seller. And she is infamously annoying too.
The AdvoCare sample, called “Spark,” was a berry supplement to boost one’s energy. I took the sample, thanked her, and promptly tossed it into my kitchen junk drawer.
This little packet had a life “spark” of its own.
Back to the play date. There were puppet shows, dress-up, a stuffed animal parade. drawing, Kung Fu Panda. Popcorn, chocolate pudding, sliced apples. The girls laughed and shrieked. A great play date.
When Nancy picked up her daughter several hours later, she asked me again, “So are you going to try the energy sample? Just add it to your morning smoothie. You’re gonna have so much energy! You’ll feel great! I do!” Lots of smiles of encouragement.
“Yeah, I’ll try it,” I lied. I had no intention of adding this packet to my morning smoothie.
Stubborn? Maybe. “I am NOT taking HER supplement,” I thought.
Righteous? Maybe. “I don’t want fake-sugar, red powder in MY smoothie.”
The next day, I get a call from Nancy. Oh goody, I thought, she’s calling to schedule another play date for the girls since they had so much fun. Uh no.
Nancy: “Have you tried the AdvoCare sample?”
Me: “Not yet.”
Nancy: “Are you planning to?”
Me being wimpy: “Yeah, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Soooo, do you want to get the girls together sometime next week?”
Nancy: “Sure. Your daughter can come to our house after school on Wednesday.”
It’s a plan. The very next day, I get another call.
Nancy: “I’m hosting an AdvoCare party and would love you to come. It’s on Thursday at 7:00 p.m.”
Me (cringing and lying): “Oh that sounds fun but I can’t. Maybe another time.”
Nancy: “Well, I’m having another AdvoCare party the following week. Can you make that work?”
Me (feeling put-on-the-spot, I wimped out, but was getting mad): “I’ll check and get back to you.” Then I hung up. “What is her DEAL?!” I thought.
Her deal is that she is making her money off of selling AdvoCare and the way she does it is by hosting parties. “What is MY deal?!” I thought, “Why don’t I just tell her no?”
I hate going to fake parties. “Fake parties” where you’re supposed to mingle, hear the presentation, and buy whatever is being sold. Candles that smell like candy canes, potpourri that smells like peaches, make-up that makes you break out, and AdvoCare supplements and vitamins that give you oh-so-much-energy. And you feel forced to buy something because the hostess is a friend of your friend. And you don’t want to be cheap. So you try to mingle. You drink a glass of white wine and eat the Triscuits and wonder why there isn’t more to eat. After all, you’re buying a candle for twenty freaking dollars. Shouldn’t that warrant some good cheese? Or some seven-layer-bean-dip?
I appreciate that these entrepreneurs are taking action to make money, with a flexible schedule, that enables them to stay home with their children. But I don’t appreciate when the selling turns to selling-by-force. It’s manipulative and annoying.
A few days passed–before the second play date–Nancy called me again.
Nancy (persistent): “So, can you come to my party?”
Me (getting a little ballsy): “No, I’m not really into going to those types of parties.”
Nancy: “I’d be happy to schedule a conference call with you to tell you all about AdvoCare.”
Me (A freaking conference call?? Finally, I’ve had it.): “You know what? I’m not into AdvoCare. I have plenty of vitamins and supplements. I don’t need any more.”
Nancy: “But I think you should hear more about AdvoCare. It’s really a great product.”
Me: “I don’t mean this to be awkward but…” (And you know by saying that, it’s going to be awkward) “I feel like you’re pressuring me to buy AdvoCare whenever you talk to me. And I don’t think that’s cool. I mean, I’m glad that our daughters are friends, but I won’t be buying any AdvoCare. Ever. So please stop asking me.”
There. I said it. Totally awkward.
Nancy: “Um, OK.” She sounded weird. And that was the last time I heard from her. Second play date? Never happened.
And THAT is why we can’t be friends. Um, Nancy, don’t use your daughter as a way to sell your products. That’s just awkward. And when the mothers say no, don’t pull mean tricks and ruin sweet, childhood friendships. That’s just mean.
I haven’t spoken to Nancy since. But I do see her gold Honda Odyssey around town, with a ginormous AdvoCare window cling on the back. And now that I can see her coming from a mile away, I get the SPARK out of there!
This post is one of 50 cool blog posts, part of the Yeah Write Challenge. Read them all and vote for your 5 favorites this Thursday.
I energetically mother three children: 14, 10, and 8, am married to my college sweetheart, and have two dogs. My life is full of laughs. eye rolls, love, and laundry. I'm friendly and genuine and blog about my bumbling life.