MUTHAHUVATEEN!!@#$%??!! MOOD RIVER

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mood surfer

 

Is it possible to be happy when your teen is miserable?

 

No.

 

Statistically you have more of a chance of a piano falling on your head or of becoming spontaneously bilingual than you have of keeping your happy vibe around your morose teen—but you can always try and good luck to you.

 

A moment ago my teen was staring out the window, tracing the patterns of rain rivulets on the glass, and singing Moon River with great feeling when suddenly she jumped up, raced outside, and began turning cartwheels on the lawn.  When she returned, soaking wet and laughing to the point of stumbling, she began texting selfies of her drowned- rat look to her friends.  Currently, at this moment, now, she is sitting quietly, eating grapes, dripping acid rain on the couch, and looking as though someone has just sucked all the joy from her life with a curly straw.

 

I am not going to be reeled in, I think, as I try to walk by her quickly so as not to catch her misery—and believe me it is contagious—I wonder if there’s a vaccine?  A Teen Angst vaccine? You just go to your doctor and say: “I can cope with measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, typhoid, and hep B, but for the love of God—tell me you have the T. A. in stock?”

 

Instead of dead viruses, the Teen Angst vaccine would consist of dead hopes and dreams, exsanguinated joy and strangled angst—along with the requisite mercury and formaldehyde just to keep it stable—ha.  I wonder…If I spike her breakfast smoothie with formaldehyde, will it stabilize my moody teen?

 

(This is what I’ve come to after fifteen years of protesting the harmful side effects of vaccines).

 

I reach the library and sink with relief into my armchair—Dang. I left my book, Algebra for the Utterly Confused, in the den.  (As a mother of a teen, I highly recommend this book.)

 

Desperate to hold on to my good mood, I decide to take a different route to fetch my book and thus avoid my grape eating teen and the whole I hate my life; I don’t get polynomials; school sucks; nobody gets me; I look terrible; my t-zone is all broken out—just like my heart—AND the guy I like doesn’t even exist, and even if he did, he probably wouldn’t notice me anyway— rant.  

 

      “I NOTICE YOU,” I shout from the kitchen, forgetting this conversation is in my head, “I CAN FEEL YOU EXISTING FROM THE OTHER ROOM!”

 

“Does insanity run in the family, Mom?” My teen asks.

 

“Well, it doesn’t walk!” I snap.

 

She sighs a great big dramatic I’m doomed kind of sigh.

 

I open my mouth to say, “What is wrong, Honey?”  But to my surprise an emotionally charged diatribe comes spewing out instead.

 

“WHAT?” I throw up my hands and storm (recklessly un-vaccinated) into the living room. “What can possibly be so TERRIBLE when you were laughing your head off over a text message just five minutes ago? I heard you! I even have it on tape!”—I hold out my mini tape recorder triumphantly—“Aha! This time I’ve got proof! Now what, my darling, could possibly have happened between the laughing and the sitting here like misery eating grapes?”

 

She looks at me like the tragic heroine of a bad T.V. movie of the week.  Fierce tears form in her limpid green eyes as the static-y soundtrack of her recorded laughter plays in the background.

 

“I’m sorry, Mom!” she yells, “I don’t know what’s the matter with me!!! I’ll just go and feel like I’m losing my mind and my spirit is dying in my room where I won’t bother anyone!”

 

“Well, do you maybe want to talk about it?” I ask, rummaging around in my D.N.A. for my sympathetic mother gene.

 

“No—it’s Okay.” She smiles bravely, “I’ll go.”

 

Now I feel bad.  How can I go blithely along my happy trail when my child is suffering and may be on the verge of a psychotic break?

 

“Is it polynomials?” I ask, nodding sympathetically.

 

“I DON’T KNOW!” she wails.

 

“Oh. Is it a boy?”

 

I wish. I gotta go now.”  I watch as she drags herself off the couch with less energy than my grandmother had on her one hundred and fifth birthday.

 

“Don’t go. Stay. We’ll talk,” I hear myself saying. (What is wrong with you? Quel est le problem avec vous?— My inner voice is yelling at me in two languages—Shut up! Fermer la bouche!)

 

      She shakes her head. “You can’t help me.  Nobody can.”

 

“I’d like to try,” I say, practically shouting over my inner voice. (Seriously, Get out now while you still have a shred of hope and a soupesance of a will to live! Sortezy maintenant alors qu’il y a encore espoir et un soupesance d’une volonte de vivre!)

 

      (When did my inner voice become bilingual, I wonder?)

 

She gives me a weak smile, “Not everything is about you, Mom.”

 

That’s because it’s about you, Ma Cherie.  “I just want you to know that I care; I want to be involved in your life.”

 

“Then buy me clothes!

 

“I just bought you clothes!”

 

“Yes. But I’m changing my style,” she informs me.

 

“Since last week?” I ask.

 

“Yes,” she says unperturbed. “I was on the brink of changing last week, but I didn’t know I was on the brink when we bought those things.

 

“Well, I’m on the brink and I still have clothes from 1987,” I tell her.

 

“We’re just different, Mom,” she shrugs.

 

“If we’re so different, how come you take all my clothes?” I ask.

 

“VINTAGE,” she says.

 

“1987 is vintage? Oh my God!”  I am having trouble breathing.

 

I suddenly feel like all the joy has been sucked out of me and I’ll never be cheerful again. My teen is a Dementor—I need chocolate. J’ai besoin de beaucoup de chocolat

 

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muthahuvateen!#$%^&!!? HOW TO COPE WITH YOUR TEEN AT THE BREAKFAST TABLE

 

photo by L.S.

photo by L.S.

 

 

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.

muthahuvateen!#$%&^*!! MY TEEN IS MAKING ME BIPOLAR

image5905

“How I See My Mom” painting by L.S.

 

I wake up happy. I pull back the curtains and let in the sun. I grind up a handful of organic, fair trade, coffee beans, and as I wait for the kettle to boil, I step outside into the warm air.  The  scent of lilacs hits me as I feed the birds—throwing handfuls of seeds out of my milk pail and humming to myself like a Disney princess.

 

Then I hear it. A haunting noise. A terrible godforsaken cry—and it is coming from the direction of my teen’s bedroom. My heart pounds. I fling the last of the seeds onto the pile and rush inside yelling: “WHAT HAPPENED? WHAT’S WRONG? ARE YOU ALL RIGHT???”

I arrive in the doorway of her room. My teen is combing out her long brown hair and looking at me with wide blank eyes.  Turns out she wasn’t crying at all, she was singing— Coco Rosie, with all the feeling and pathos of a mother elephant watching her baby die in the desert from lack of water.

 

“Oh! I say, laughing a little in relief. “It sounded…beautiful…haunting…very moving—it certainly moved me.”

 

“Thanks,” she says, looking at me blankly and waiting for me to leave.

 

I decide to put in a load of laundry. I think I hear screaming coming once again from my daughter’s bedroom. Over the noise of the washing machine, it sounds like someone is pulling out her fingernails one by one and I fondly imagine that my would -be- diva has resumed her singing.

 

I go to see if there are any more clothes on her floor that need washing. I find her flung across her bed face down. She is not singing.  She is screaming like her appendix has just burst. I wade through the piles of clothes—it looks as though she has emptied all of her dresser drawers onto the floor—and mine too—….—….It takes me five minutes to get to her, but that’s because I’m used to it, and I worry about the paramedics should they prove necessary. “WHAT IS IT? WHAT IS WRONG?” I cry.

 

“I can’t find my 70s top ANYWHERE!” she wails.

 

“Oh! Well—can’t you wear something else?” I ask. (Rookie mistake and I know it but the words are out before I can stop them.)

 

“NO-UH!” she says.  “It’s the only thing that goes with these jeans and my hair and my eyeliner!”

 

Suddenly I get a sharp pang, like the eruption of a duodenal ulcer, as I remember that I just threw that particular item into the washing machine. It is now swishing blithely about with the rest of the dark and brights. “Surely we can find something in this pile….?” I begin.

 

“There is nothing! It’s all slavery made, Mom! I’m not wearing clothes made by children. You just don’t know what they do to them. It’s horrible! At least vintage doesn’t support slave labour!”

 

Vintage! I go upstairs to my closet and grab my favourite 1960s blouse.  I run downstairs and offer it to her.

 

Her eyes light up. “But, Mom…are you sure? This is your favourite shirt!”

 

“My darling,” I tell her, “I would give you my favourite kidney if it would only make you stop screaming and go to school.”

 

With a cool and dangerous focus, she pulls on the shirt and surveys herself in the mirror from every angle.

 

Uh oh…I think randomly. I hope it matches her—eyeliner…

 

She smiles into the mirror.

 

…and her teeth.

 

“Thanks, Mom,” she says, giving me a brief hug.

 

“It’s a match!” I heave a sigh of relief and help her stuff her science project into her knapsack. We are nearly there. The bus will be here in three minutes.

 

She is now singing 4Nonblondes and I join in—happy, for a brief moment, that the generation gap between us is so huge that it seems to have come around again—in both fashion and music.

 

Life is good. We are singing together and soon she will be in school….

 

Suddenly she stops and shouts. “OH MY GOD!”

 

NO! I scream silently. NO, ‘OH MY GOD’!  NOT NOW! NOT WHEN WE ARE SO CLOSE. “What? What is it?” I cry (literally, I begin to cry). Then I pull myself together and say “Tell me what it is and I will fix it.”

 

“I forgot my headphones and I can not get on the bus without them. The stupid boys scream and say stupid things and it gives me a headache.”

 

I begin to run. “Where are they?” I shout, heading to her room with the determination of an Olympic inline speed skater.

 

“They’re in my room somewhere. On the floor—I think.” she says. “Hurry, Mom! I hear the bus!”

 

My heart is pounding as I dig through the mounds of slavery-made clothing on her floor like a family member in the aftermath of an earthquake, and suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I see the headphones wound around my best cashmere sweater.

 

I grab them and race down the street after her. “Wait! ” I yell, “I found them!”

 

She turns and looks at me with a horrified expression on her face. I realize, suddenly,  that I am still wearing my pajamas—which were probably hand sewn by Indonesian orphans.

 

“Thanks Mom,” she says doubtfully, grabbing them from me and lining up for the bus.

 

I wave to my daughter and—to her credit—she waves back (even though I’m pretty sure that my hand sewn by Indonesian orphans pajamas don’t match my eyeliner, my teeth, or my ass.)

 

I turn back and it isn’t until I reach the lake that I realize I have overshot our house by half a block.

 

I see Sally sitting on her porch, chain smoking, and drinking her morning coffee. The scent of Kahlua wafts over to me. She has two teens. A boy and a girl. (Her boy was recently suspended for vandalizing school property.) We smile weakly at each other as we think fondly back to the days when our daughters dressed up in funny hats and had tea parties in the same yard. Now they straighten their hair, cry over boys, and text each other from opposite ends of the street.

 

Liz walks by me. She is the mother of two teen boys. Still, she is always dressed in the latest fashion—her pajamas actually match her shoesI don’t know how she does it. I smile and nod, but she doesn’t recognize me…poor thing.

 

I hurry home and throw my pajamas in the wash. I go to my closet. It is empty except for the black suit I wore to my grandmother’s funeral and the blue sequined dress I wore to my sister’s wedding. Neither seems appropriate for today. I look in my dresser drawers and find two thongs. I put them both on. The rest of my slavery-made clothing is lying in a heap on the floor of my daughter’s room.

 

I catch sight of the drapes hanging in my bedroom window and recall the scene in The Sound of Music where Julie Andrews makes play clothes for the children, and I wish with all my heart that I had taken Home-Ec in high school instead of typing.

 

Then I remember that I bought the drapes in Little India and they are actually saris! I pull one down off the rod and wrap it around me. I put a red dot on my forehead because I am a married woman—and then I put on several more because I am a  muthahuvateen.!#$%&*^!!!

 

I go outside to finish feeding the birds and pretend I am the fifth non-blonde (who actually is blonde) and I sing, “Hey Hey Hey, I say, Hey Hey HEYHEYHEY I say Hey…..WHAT’S GOING ON??????”