I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve this, but there it is.
Obviously, there are wonderful things about tweens, too. Like how they are mature enough to be interesting, but they’re still really kids who let you be their mommy (sometimes). But I’ll be painfully honest – it is tough, too. Because they’re mature enough to argue with you and are no longer satisfied with the “Because I said so” answer, but they’re still really kids who cannot fully handle the emotional roller coaster of life.
In my recent interactions, confrontations, and sob-fests with my own tweens, I started to think of things to say to them. I like to think that they respond truly positively to these pearls of wisdom. Here are the top twelve on that list for you to share with your tween:
1. You are literally a part of me.
Practically every meal you eat, I cook. Practically every item of clothing you wear, I provide. I screen your music, your television shows, your books (even when you don’t realize it!). I’m trying to give you the life I always wanted while also forging you in my image. Like Victor Frankenstein made his monster, so have I made you. So no matter how foreign I might seem to you, you are a lot more like me than you want to admit.
2. You are going to be so much smarter than me someday. But today is not the day.
There is nothing that your tween brain has figured out that I cannot deconstruct. And while I am so happy that you are smart and know wholeheartedly that you will be much, much smarter than me someday, the reason I still give you boundaries is because you’re not smarter than me yet.
3. You are not a disappointment.
Yes, you do things that disappoint me. And, yes, sometimes I want to trade you in for a toaster. But the things you do are not the person you are. I might be disappointed in some of your actions, but for my entire life and yours, you will never be a disappointment to me.
4. There’s a 90% chance that the friends you care so much about now will be irrelevant to you in 5 years.
It’s about perspective. You won’t believe me when I tell you that it doesn’t matter what she thinks or it’s ok if she doesn’t want to hang out with you anymore. But I’ll tell you anyway. Because you need to hear it, even though it doesn’t sound true. Yet.
5. He’s going to break your heart.
Even if there isn’t a “he” yet, it’s going to happen. And it will hurt. And there’s nothing anyone can do about it. And you’re going to feel like you are the only one who has ever felt so bad. But you’re not, or you won’t be. And I’ll be here for you if or when that happens.
6. They’ll all break your heart, but you will get over it.
This applies to those friends who stopped hanging out with you (see 4) or the crush who didn’t pan out the way you wanted (see 5). They’ll break your heart, and you will survive. You will learn why all women worship at the altar of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive. There is nothing on earth that can crush you. As soon as you internalize that, moving on will become so much easier.
7. You will get caught.
I don’t care what it was that you did. I don’t care how careful you think you were. I don’t care how smart you are (see 2). You will get caught. Let me repeat that. YOU WILL GET CAUGHT. Factor that in to your calculations BEFORE you do whatever it is you will get caught for. I promise, this will make your life better than it will make mine.
8. Monkeys like rutabagas, too.
Or something equally nonsensical. Especially in moments of tension. Your life is drama, drama, drama these days and, every once in a while, I’m going to remind you that “monkeys like rutabagas” or that “pinochle isn’t a real word, no matter how many times Gramma says it.” I will say those things, and you will laugh. And sometimes that is the point.
9. Laughing makes everything better.
Thus, the purpose of 8. You take yourself entirely too seriously at times. And if I try telling you that directly, you just get even more serious. So instead, I’m going to make you laugh, even when you don’t want to. Especially when you don’t want to. And eventually, you will learn that laughing helps you get through most things in life.
10. Life is about jumping through hoops.
I get it. You already know how to do [INSERT TASK HERE] and you don’t understand why you have to jump through some hoop just to prove it. Especially if it is something meaningless (and let’s face it, you think everything is meaningless). Well, let me tell you something, chickie – LIFE IS ABOUT JUMPING THROUGH HOOPS. Better get good at it now, since that is what adults do all day long. If there was a way to avoid that, I would’ve found it a long time ago.
11. You should have a theme song.
There should be a song that absolutely sums up who you are right this moment – or who you want to be. Identify it and make it your theme song. Because this simple exercise forces you to be self-aware – and self-awareness is the cornerstone of happiness. You can fix anything in your life, you can make anything better, as long as you are honest about what it is that needs changing. (And, by the way, your theme song not only can change over time, it should change. No one is one thing forever.)
12. Because I’m your mother and I say so.
I promise I will try reasoning with you, sharing my logic and my thoughts. I promise I will generally follow the same set of rules so that you can learn how to anticipate my reactions and not just wait for me to give them to you. And I promise I will listen you and let myself be persuaded by your arguments at appropriate times. But, every once in a while, the answer is going to be, “Because I’m your mother and I say so.” Which I know is a totally unsatisfactory answer. Make your peace with that.