So I am going to talk in the abstract. This is just a blog post, we can get through it.
The mist descends.
OK we can't get through it. We can't get out of it. There is no escape.
Being in a room with an almost teenager is like a whole new level of hell. I wish it was funny and I would love there to be a joke at the end of this, but there isn't. I have two younger girls, aged 4 and 2. I know all about the pooing on the carpet phase, the throwing themselves on the floor in the supermarket phase. I have lived the screaming crying "I DON'T WANT TO!" phase. I know toddlers. They tantrum, they cry, they scream. Then there is the naughty step, and time out. They have a nap and feel better. Teething hurts, it gets better. Nappy rash hurts, it heals. They fall, they cry, you pick them up. You cuddle, you kiss it better. There is a resolution and all is well until the next phase.
But THIS is not THAT.
There is nothing wrong with the almost teenager. Nothing you can put your finger on. They wake up and instantly dislike you. You have done something wrong. What is it? I don't know. They will mope around and complain. They will have a messy room (normal, right?) They will sit on their mobile device and not move for hours. You might ask them to do something. A simple task like "can you pick that cup up?"
The world crashes in.
Like I said, I wish this was funny, but it is not.
From the request to move the cup, accusations fly, biting at the air and scratching at your entire being. Complete, utter and total contempt. "Why can't YOU do it, it's JUST a favour, THIS is my DAY OFF."
You wonder what you did wrong.
You bought them a book on "growing up." They shouted because "you're so EMBARRASSING," then they spend the next two hours furtively flicking through it in the kitchen. Now it's hidden in a cupboard somewhere. "Mood swings are fine, but you need to consider everyone else from time to time," (you think you are being oh-so reasonable, and what a modern Mum you are!)
But you're not. You are an old fart and you know nothing, you don't even know what "swag" means. Sometimes you cry because they won't stop telling you how rubbish you are. This is compounded when it's the dinner table - all five in your family; You, husband, two terrible toddlers and the almost teenager, sat around eating pasta and sauce and the almost teenager falls apart, a bubbling, seething volcanic erruption because "YOU should KNOW that I DON'T like THIS!" You choke on your tears at the table and everyone looks at you, but you worked six hours that day, studied for your masters for two hours on the packed bus, came home, collected the "terrible toddlers" from school, cleaned the house and then cooked from fresh pasta and sauce, grilled turkey with salad. But it was wrong and now you can't eat it because you are choking on your own tears, and the almost teen is growling and scowling at your error.
But this is not about you.
And this is not personal.
You know this. You were worried so you spoke to a professional who told you quite clearly that this is a "phase." a pre-teen girl "phase."
You tell the almost teenager that having mood swings is normal. You tell her that she should try and feel like the luckiest child in the world (because she is one of them, let's face it - wants for nothing.) But she sulks and groans. Leaves dirty dishes with cheap noodles stuck to them next to her bed. She scrapes her hair back for school, smiles occasionally when she thinks you're not looking. Instagram is her thing, phone glued to her hand - you know nothing. She tells you this and spits venom, occasionally telling you that she hates you and doesn't want to be anywhere near you. (You spent 2 hours cleaning her room today, treated her to Minecraft posters for Christmas and ordered her "main" Christmas present.) So, predictably, tired and fed up, you sigh, push your hair out of your eyes and swear. You swear at your first child, this almost teen, and oh yes, the look on her face when you do.
It's like Christmas came early. A thousand gifted weapons for her to harm you with forever.
As she lashes out and whips you with her harsh words again. You gather the terrible toddlers and take them to bed. To bath, to read to, to tickle, to cuddle and to kiss goodnight.
Just like you used to do with her.