Does your teen jump out of bed all pink cheeked and cheerful in the morning then search the house to find you so that you might have a nice breakfast together before you both go your separate ways?
If your answer is, “Yes.” Then A) you are lying; B) you have done everything right from the moment your child was born and are most likely some kind of perfect parent alien from a star planet in another galaxy farfaraway; or C) Watch Out—your teen may one day (could be today) just snap and set fire to your house with you in it.
The hardest part I find about coping with my teen at the breakfast table is that she won’t actually come to the breakfast table. She prefers to eat in her room and not talk to me from there. She prefers not to see me at all in the morning because she says that I rush her and more than anything in the world she hates to be rushed.
She hates to be rushed, but she wakes up twenty minutes before the bus arrives, does her hair in an elaborate do that would take me an hour and two professional hairdressers; applies her makeup to achieve a fresh, Audrey Hepburn-esque pink lipped and cat-eyed look—I need at least ten minutes and two cups of coffee to achieve a cat eye—which inevitably ends up more like a Cocker-spaniel/beagle eye—yet, when I suggest that perhaps if she set her alarm, just, even, ten minutes earlier…she kind of yells at me.
“I set my alarm, Mother, for seven-thirty, but I set my clock ahead an hour so that when my alarm goes off, I think it’s eight –thirty and I get this lurch in my stomach like, ‘oh my God, I am so late,’ then I remember that my clock is an hour fast so then I’m like, ‘Phew!’ I have lots of time and I don’t need to rush—only sometimes I fall asleep for a little bit more and when I wake up, I’m a bit late—but I can still make it if I can just be left alone.”
I do not say anything because I do not know what to say yet—I will need more coffee—but she gets defensive anyway and snaps, “Well it works for me!”
One of the main reasons that she prefers not to see me in the morning until the bus is pulling in at the end of the street, is that no matter what she is wearing—it is too late for me to do anything about it. If she is wearing her favourite boots because they match her outfit, which expresses the particular image she wants to project that day, and I say, “Honey, it’s hailing outside and there is three feet of snow so you’d best wear your Winter Boots,” then she can say, “Sorry Mom, I don’t have time to change, I hear the bus—gotta run!”
The days of yogurt cups and bowls of porridge and jam on toast; of little cheeks stuffed with pancakes and the cheerful chatter and adoring eyes of my little girl—are gone.
But when she gets to end of the drive, secure in the knowledge that it is too late for me to interfere with her outfit in any way, she turns and blows me a kiss to let me know that she still loves me, even if she would rather throw herself under the bus than cope with me at the breakfast table.