My Mom, who is retired, said even if she practiced for 10 hours a day, she doubted she could do it– make her eyes roll back in her brain the way my girls do almost every time I open my mouth to speak to them.

What’s more, the eyeball rolling action is often met with dramatic sighs, a clicking of the tongues and forward-facing marches straight out of the room.

It’s really quite a talent my teenage daughters have perfected over the past few hormonal years. In fact, it’s a lot like magic! Presto! Mom starts to talk and up go the eyes!

“All I said was how was your day?” I’d say as I watched them tromp up the stairs. “Don’t be so rude!”

Why do I let it bother me so much? All teenagers do this, I’m told by experts and parents alike.

I’ll tell you why it bothers me so much.

To me, the eyeball roll is the same as a door slam either when there is no door available to slam.

The thing is they know it drives me nuts. And that’s exactly why they do it. What teenager doesn’t live to drive their parents nuts? They’re geniuses at it. Plan a Sunday breakfast and they will sleep till noon. Tell them you’ll stay home on Friday night to drive them to the movies and they’ll decide to walk to the school play. Offer to take them to the beach and they’ll want to go skiing. In Africa.

It’s the stuff that teenage psychology is made of– their need to bite the hand that feeds them– in a distorted effort to pitch a declaration of independence flag in the pile of pizza boxes under their beds.

Enough was enough, I decided.

Time to hold a parent meeting on what we are going to do with the kids and their rotten little attitudes. Even though I’d be the only one at the table, I prepared for this like it were an annual summit. Camp Pittman!

I called myself to order, even jokingly saying “Fahrenthold-Pittman?” out loud and answering “Here” to myself as I sat at the kitchen table armed with pen and notebook, ready to list things in the pro and con columns.

You won’t believe what I came up with.

Honestly, nothing much. My girls’ awesomeness column was gaining speed on the not so awesome column. And I’m not just saying that for the sake of a blog.

Here’s the list to prove it:

  • They get great grades.
  • They treat their teachers, other parents, friends and their community with respect.
  • They’re confident, poised and funny.
  • They’re very mature for their ages, but are still silly and happy and girly and funny and sweet. They wear pink nail polish on their toes!
  • They look you in the eye when they speak to you. They have firm handshakes. They enjoy talking with my friends and other adults. They let me drag them to work events.
  • They clean. They cook. They know the value of money and that I work hard to provide for them.
  • They truly love and need me. I am the only parent they have.

That last one was the killer. It actually made me cry. I’m not sure why it took me so long to see that I was causing the problem, not them, by reacting to the eyeball rolling. I’m the one who is scared of losing them and get upset when I see their awkward attempts to separate themselves from me. I was hanging on tighter and blaming them for being rude and disrespectful when all they are doing is edging away from me in order to form their own lives.

They’re kids. This is what kids do.

Soon, I reminded myself, Nell will be off to college with her sister not far behind. I have two and four more years left. It was time to “drop the chalupa.” Stop lecturing them about how there are starving children all over the world who walk barefoot to school or tell them how lucky they are to have someone who loves them and puts a roof over their heads. They know it and don’t need me to stand there telling them.

From now on, I would become SUPER MOM! The June Cleaver of Hastings. The aproned mother who bakes them a cake on their first day of school!

cake

The smiling mom who says, “Sure honey, I will drop everything to find  your tennis racquet you left at home and drive back across the county for your match once I find where you lost it!”

tennis

The sweet Mom who not only knows how much you love ice coffee in the morning, but who also took YOUR DOG, the one that YOU begged me for and promised to love and to cherish until college do you part, on a walk to the deli at 6:30 a.m. so you could sleep in and be awoken with your favorite drink.

coffee

All this and it’s only the third day of school.

If they can roll their eyeballs at me, I decided I can kill them with kindness.

All’s fair in love, war and motherhood!

How do you like me now?

Cover photo credit: Ontheforecheck.com

9 Comments

  1. Sami Pittman Sutherland says:

    In the past, I was a fan of Erma Bombeck. I am the Mom of five sons and when they were younger, the person who came to help me for a few years used to say that she thought that I was supplying material to Erma! I enjoy readfing your blog very much. Keep up the good work my friend.

    • Laura says:

      Dear Sami:
      I bet you were with five boys!!! I wish I had more kids to screw up:) There’s safety in numbers!
      Thank you for your blogship,
      Laura

  2. Valerie Aubry says:

    I really look forward to your blog. I’laugh as I read it and nod in recognition. Thanks for making me realize we’re not alone at that table, for reminding me to celebrate my children and be mindful of my time with them.

  3. Kate Pannett says:

    Good one! After all, the only person you can control is yourself.

    And by the way, the last piece of that cake was DELICIOUS!

  4. Mel Goldstein says:

    Hi Laura.
    Great blog today. I hope it works out with your daughters. Keep on wrriting.
    Have a great holiday weekend.
    We are in Maryland for our grandson’s wedding on Sunday.
    Mel

  5. Wendy Fahrenthold says:

    It gets better, I promise 🙂