The Number 13

I’m sure there’s a deeper reason why 13 is an unlucky number, but around here I get a daily reminder of its tricky little curse.  Now in Round 2, I have my second 13-yr-old daughter.  She’s lovely- a good kid with good grades, a good heart, and she stays out of trouble.  She plays sports and has a nice set of friends.  What could I possibly complain about?

Hormones.  They’re like these little sticks of dynamite that have snuck their way into my little girl and just explode out of nowhere. Most are addressed, “To Mom”, and are labeled random mood swings.  I can be having what I think is a regular conversation with her and Boom!  She’s pissed, or she’s crying, or she’s off to her room leaving me standing there shell-shocked.

Athletic games are the worst.  We’re talking about a sea of seventh graders trying to maneuver as school teammates and still be friends, some for the first time ever.  The cryfest drama that was taking place after a loss was ridiculous.  One evening, I gently pulled a tearful Becca to the side of a hallway and said some quick words amounting to more or less “You did great, the crying drama is too much, save it for later, I love you, blah, blah, blah..”.  And that 30 second display of public parenting ruined her life.

So the next time I had to talk to her at a game, I made sure there were no kids, no adults, no coaches, nada, around.  And guess what?  She got home that night (crying) and was mad at me.  I had somehow still embarrassed her by the simple act of talking to her away from her friends because then they thought she was in trouble and it was all my fault and once again I had ruined her life.

At one point of brilliant parenting, I thought it might be beneficial to mention the pre-period, early-teen, emotional basket case display and call it out, thinking maybe she will rationally look at her behavior and snap out of it.  Nope.  She will double down that dynamite with zero fucks given.  She hates her teachers, her sisters, her brother, herself, her clothes, her friends all in the same day.  I’m just waiting for the scream, “I hate you, Mom!”, like I got from her older sister. 

But oh, the hidden gifts of sobriety, right?  This time around I can handle it.  I know it’s not personal, and when her remorseful, regular self walks back into the room and says quietly, “I love you, Mom”, we stare at each other.  Then we smile, then we giggle a little.  Not because I condone bad behavior, but because she’s learning.  I am, too. When my first daughter went through this stage, I was struggling to stay sober.  I took so much personally, and I did so many things wrong.   Forgiveness is a gift we get to give not just to others, but also to ourselves.  And like I’ve learned before, this “dynamite” stage will pass.  

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