Delete Google from your bookmarks, throw away that Encarta 95 that you’ve been holding on to, and burn your 32 book set of Encyclopedia Britannica. All of these items rendered useless, and can now be replaced quite simply with my 12 year old…who has a fucking answer for everything. Maybe “answer” is the wrong word, sometimes it’s just muffled heated discussions that she appears to be having with herself and on occasion referencing slow ways in which I should be murdered.
Ok, I guess it’s not that she acts like she knows everything (it’s not like we sit around and discuss the laws of thermodynamics) it’s just that she actually can’t let anyone else have the last word…which is frustrating because having the last word is my thing. I’m sure this isn’t remotely news for other parents out there, but I didn’t want this phase (please be a phase) to pass without writing some of our exchanges down on this website, my very own diary. In years to come I’ll be able to look back on posts such as this one for 21st or wedding speech inspiration.
So of recent times things have become rather fun with high school starting. Was just last week when I’m sitting on the couch at midday and get a call for Juliet’s phone. It’s her school friend, which instantly causes me to worry that something serious may have happened…nope. “Juliet’s yoghurt broke in her bag and it’s everywhere, we’re missing music class trying to clean it in the bathroom but can you bring her a new bag?”. I withhold my questions regarding how many people really need to be skipping class in order to clean some yoghurt (which is yogo, barely a member of the dairy food group anyway) and simply reply that a mobile phone was purchased in her name for emergencies, not requests of stupidity, go to class. When I picked her up that afternoon she was giving me the silent treatment that her mum has been slowly helping her perfect, but finally she comes out with “you’re a helicopter parent I really thought you would bring me a new bag”. I didn’t really have a response, plus I could barely concentrate her bag smelt so fucking horrible I thought maybe an animal had eaten the yoghurt first then crawled into her bag and died. If she’s pissed now, wait until she finds out there’s no way I’m hand washing that thing. I send her downstairs with the washing instructions and she mumbles something about WW1, mustard gas and cutting holes in my breathing apparatus.
The fun continues a few days later when Juliet and I walk to the local bus stop so that she can get the bus for the first time with some friends to school. She’s been asking for more independence lately and we figure this is a way for her to get it without the chance of too much going wrong (I am a helicopter dad after all). So to get to the bus stop we have to cross 4 roads, all very small and quiet, but roads all the same. How many of the 4 roads does Juliet check for oncoming cars before she crosses? 3, and on the 4th road she looks the wrong way which in my opinion is more ridiculous than not looking at all. At this point I would like to remind you that she is 12, asking for more independence, and unable to cross a road. I lose it, no denying it I am angry and want her to know that this is the exact reason that she isn’t ready for independence. Her response “I walk Robert and I’m still alive”. I smile the smile of a man clenching his teeth and trying to breathe his way through stroke inducing rapidly rising blood pressure, knowing full well that she doesn’t cross any fucking roads when she walks the dog. She sees her school friends and I instantly become invisible. Although this time I appear to have won the last word competition, I’ve no doubt that on the bus she kick started a discussion about the Australian justice system’s current stance on juvenile homicide and ways to drown me.
Two nights ago I wasn’t nearly hating myself enough so I decided to help her pack for school camp. You haven’t lived until you’ve stood in the doorway for 10 minutes watching your child attempt to search for 5 pairs of matching socks. I now realise when I say “have you put your clean clothes away” after doing the washing, that I need to be more specific. Continuing, she needed 5 shirts for camp, a camp in which she will be outdoors hiking, kayaking and so on…she’s trying to pack like she’s off to Milan for fashion week. I inform her that she’s going to need to just pack old t-shirts, and she looks shocked to find out that camp isn’t going to have a red carpet and an exclusive spread in Who magazine. “I don’t have old t-shirts” falls from her mouth as she opens a drawer that looks like the fabric off-cut bin of a seamstress. I know she has old t-shirts in there somewhere, right now I’m just really upset that nobody told me about Juliet’s dual shoulder injuries that have obviously stopped her from being able to fold clothes for 6 years. I have a great idea that she will love, and I tell her to take ALL of the clothes out of the drawer and fold them neatly back into the drawer whilst locating the required shirts. As I leave the room she mumbles something about going to Bunnings, buying a shovel and burying my lifeless body under my lime tree in the backyard. Kids are the best.
You missed a cracker the other week when she decided she wanted to swap chores with me. For her $10 a week pocket money one of her chores is to put away the dishes, a massive 5 minute job. One day she just pipes up and says she doesn’t want to do it anymore, that she wants to wash up. I laugh, and even try to save her as we don’t have a dishwasher. I tell her how long it takes me to wash up every day compared to her measly 5 minutes but she insists, and I’m not going to talk her out of this obvious brain fart twice. All goes smoothly for a couple of days until one night I get home and the dishes are still on the sink. Juliet is in bed but in the morning I ask why the dishes weren’t done and she informs me “Mum put the dishes away yesterday so it didn’t seem fair for me to have to do my job if you’re not doing yours”. You’ve got to love that 12 year old logic. Does she think I vacuum the house because once a week I go into Kristina’s office and she pays me $10? Ridiculous…everyone knows I’m not allowed in Kristina’s office.
The scary part for me is that she is only 12 and I know this is just the tip of the iceberg and I’m going to be the worst tempered Titanic that ever did sink for the next few years. My mum loves to remind me that she is a great kid, and I know she is, she’s just figuring herself out and going through all those fun changes that tween/teenagers do. Somehow I feel that the next few years would be significantly easier though if I wasn’t a stubborn, know it all 12(+19) year old myself.