This past month, I have come to realize that raising a teenage girl is like being invaded by the body snatchers. I thought when she was a preteen was difficult. Teen years are starting out with a bang. Some parents get really lucky and have girls that do not give them any trouble during their teen years and there are parents like me that feel that we have done a wonderful job raising our girls only to have them revolt in some way. My thirteen year old, will be fourteen in August, is the child that gives me more trouble than my two autistic kids combined on any given day. I wish that our girls came with a Geiger counter that would click and let us know that we have this type of girl we have when they are born, minimal clicks mean awesome, few headaches, clicks gone wild mean brace for it and buy stock in Aleve. So yes, raising a child with autism hands down is not as difficult as raising a teenage girl some days.
I don’t know if there is something in the wiring of the teenage brain. I’m not a scientist but I know my daughter. First thing that she has to contend with is that her father and I divorced when she was young and she really doesn’t remember us living in the same house together when she was a baby. Though I have tried to provide her with a safe environment and consistency, stability, and positive role models, one has to ask themselves if I over did trying to protect her from being hurt? Did I do too much and require too little from her? Did I give her too much freedom early on or did I not give her enough? Did I parent her in a way that produced the child that I have now? Did I give her too many responsibilities before she was ready to take them on mentally? The answer to those questions, I probably will never have, at least until she is older and she doesn’t roll her eyes at me anymore and hate my guts most days. I do not think of myself as an instant gratification parent, yet this is the child that I have. I have a teenage girl who feels that she should not have boundaries and should be rewarded for every thing that she does. Her school work should often be secondary to her having fun. Makes you scratch your head doesn’t it since we know as adults, we can’t go to work on Monday and expect our paycheck on Tuesday, especially if we didn’t do our work to earn one before we had fun?
My daughter, she is the giant worm from Tremors many days and I am the unsuspecting camper out in the desert being eaten alive bit by bit. “You don’t understand!” “No one listens to me!” “No one wants to know my side!” “You never let me have any fun with my friends.” These have all become mantras in my house that I now dread hearing. So what lessons am I taking away from my daughter’s teenage rebellion years? My mother was right! (SHHHHH don’t tell her I said that.) I pray that I didn’t give my mother as much grief as my daughter gives me. I need to encourage my youngest to be respectful and follow the rules when she gets older, yet know and understand that there are rules that one must follow in order to survive. I think my 7-year-old will handle this just fine since she is an Aspie and a strict rule follower.
Now, my daughter complains, she doesn’t want to do chores, she doesn’t want to do her homework when she is told to do it, she wants to go to the mall and park and hang out with her friends and the boy that she got in trouble with in January at school. She has no sense of danger. No sense of personal awareness at 13. She is almost like a toddler that you have to force out of the kitchen so he or she will not burn themselves on the stove because their little brains don’t think beyond reaching for the cookies that just came out of the stove. Is this common? Probably is. I dunno. I remember being 13 and wanting to be left alone. Maybe I as a child was autistic and didn’t know it and it played in my favor as a teen. I wanted to fly under the radar and get my chores done, why so no one would talk to me. I liked being alone. This is the child that is going to high school next year. (Praying that she matures this summer.)
So, with this coming to a close, I can say with great certainty that one day my daughter will have a daughter even though she says she is not going to have children, my daughter’s daughter will undoubtedly cause my daughter her own form of grief. I just hope that she is aware enough to say, my mother was right and man was I a pain in the behind.