Friday, April 8, 2011

the terrible 10s

Oy. I had a huge fight with my daughter this morning. Scary and sad. She’s only ten and I never expected to have these kinds of rows at this early age. Maybe at 13 or 16, but 10?

What set her off was my asking her to take fruit for her mid-morning snack. Yep. That’s all. She went off about how many rules I have, and how I never let her do what she wants (meaning watch TV during the week, get a cell phone, walk home from school by herself, take chips for snack). This is true. I’m probably a pretty strict parents as Manhattan parents go. But then again, the teachers ask that the kids don’t take chips for snack.

I was on the verge of tears most of the day. I don’t recognize my little girl lately: she’s grown 3 inches recently and her boobs are, well, boobs. And she says things like “I hate this family. I wish I wasn’t a part of it!”

So I’m not so clueless to think that our fight was about fruit. I know it wasn’t. It was so inane that it reminded me of the tantrums she used to have when she was 2 and I wouldn’t let her get out of a stroller on a crowded street. Or have ice cream before dinner. Or buy her a toy in Rite Aid. We’re having the same battles now. the terrible 2s have become the terrible 10s.

The way I saw it, the 2s were all about wanting to do things that she was not ready for or wasn’t allowed to. She wanted to roll down a car window but wasn’t strong enough. She wanted to stay up late. She wanted to let go of my hand crossing the street. “I DO!” “I DO!”

In many ways the 10s are the same. What she wants and what’s good for her are not always the same. She thinks she’s grown up but she’s still my baby. Is she ready to walk home from school on her own? Will she do her homework if we let her watch GLEE on Tuesdays? Does she need a phone? Can she make healthy food choices at least some of the time? Yes and no. She’s probably capable of walking home from school safely. but who is she hanging out with before she does? GLEE on Tuesday will morph into American Idol on Wednesday in a heartbeat. A phone opens up a whole world to her that I can’t monitor. Is that OK? Left to her own devices she’ll eat more crap than I like, but her body will soon cry out for something fresh.

I’ll admit that I’m adding to the fire in my own way. I’m not so ready to have her out in the world (although when she gets in one of her hateful moods I’d like to leave her at the school yard). It’s a tough call sometimes: too hard on her? not tough enough?

After a heart to heart this evening here’s where my daughter and I netted out: She can walk home occasionally if we know who she is hanging out with and when she’ll be home (not more than a half hour). No phone. Period. No TV on weekdays. If she eats eats 3 fruits or vegetables a day she can decide when and what. If she wants to eat two mangoes for breakfast I’ll keep my mouth shut.
We’ll see how it goes.