While everyone else on planet earth blogs about New Year's resolutions and ushering in the new year, I tell a different tale tonight. A tale of woe, heartache, and pain told in my usual "laugh at myself" style. My life is awesome. I laugh a lot. I'm overall happy as a person. But this afternoon, my 13-year-old made me cry at the Chinese buffet.
You're probably laughing already. I laughed at myself just thinking about writing this blog post because I know that if you've raised a teenager with an attitude and you are a soft-hearted person, you can totally relate to my story. I know I'm not alone. Teenagers everywhere make their parents cry. Not usually at the Chinese buffet, but they do it, nonetheless. And you're just too embarrassed to tell your story, but not me. Noooooo, not me!
So, we are boring this year, having given up some bad habits and matured, and no I'm not exactly sure why we matured, but that's another story, so anyway, we literally are doing nothing for New Year's Eve this year but staying home and doing our normal stuff and so we decided to use a gift certificate we had gotten for a Christmas present and head on over to the Hibachi Buffet with our kids, eleven and thirteen year old girls. That was to be our big New Year's Eve hurrah.
My girls are as different as night and day. My youngest is full of sunshine and beams it from ear to ear and coast to coast everywhere she goes, wakes up smiling, sings in the shower, and her middle name is literally "Joy." The older of the two, well, I don't really know how to describe her, but I do want to clearly state that I love them both. Dearly. The older one is at... that age. Yeah, that age. Be it hormones, confusion about who she is in this screwed up world, testing her boundaries, or whatever, I seem to be the main target of her bad moods. Well, to be truthful, it's me, her sister, and her father, so I'm not alone here, but I'm talking about me here.
I do understand when people are having a hard time or are in bad moods that they take it out on the ones they love the most. Those words of wisdom came from my late boss, Lowell D. Samuel, and I will never forget the method by which I learned that lesson. He snapped at me one day and I was undeserving. He later called me in and apologized and explained to me that it wasn't me, but that he was in a bad mood and sometimes when you're in a bad mood, you take it out on the ones you love the most. I was the unlucky recipient. But I understood what that meant and it spoke volumes. He valued me and trusted me with his bad mood. He knew that I knew him and that wasn't like him and that I would forgive his bad mood because I respected him.
Through the years, I have seen this played out many times, sometimes poorly and sometimes very well. There are good ways to handle it and bad ways. My daughter hasn't figured out the good way yet. So today at the restaurant when she came back at me during casual and light-hearted conversation with a particularly snippy response, I just lost it. I was literally so mad and hurt by the sharpness of her tone that I felt weak in the legs. "You'd better cut that attitude right now, young lady," I whispered loudly as I pointed a finger at her "I don't deserve that!" Now, normally, I would just huff and go on about my day. But today, it just cut me. It cut me to the core for some reason.
The funny thing was that at that moment, when tears began to well up in my eyes, I wondered if it was my fault. Had I been a bad parent? Had I taught her to act this way? Did she hate me that much? Did I really deserve this treatment? Maybe I'm bad. Just a bad old rotten egg. Not a good mother. Not even a good person! Thankfully, sitting right beside her was little miss ray 'o sunshine, looking woefully at me as though I was a wounded baby deer. I had raised that one too. "I'm not bad. It's not me!" I thought enthusiastically as I considered the juxtaposition of the two offspring.
I was shocked at how deeply my eldest had hurt me. Then my husband noticed I was crying. "Oh no, are you really crying at the Chinese buffet?" He patted me on the leg and sent the offending child to get him some more food. "Good riddance," I thought. Stay gone long time, grasshoppa. I can giggle at myself now, but I tell you that at that moment, I just hoped the buffet would somehow swallow her and I wouldn't have to look at her again for a long time. She had really hurt my feelings!
The ever-trying-to-fix-things hubby tried to ask me what was wrong and tell me that she was just thirteen and it wasn't me and then when she came back to the table he tried to make her apologize to me. Well, that just made me mad. A forced apology isn't heartfelt, even though I taught my children to apologize by force at a young age when they had done wrong. There's that bad parenting at work, because that certainly wasn't the answer this time. "Don't even bother making her!" I blew into my napkin. The meal continued, I composed myself and finished my flied lice and there was no more incidence to be had. However, I do admit that my thirteen year old deflated me in one fell swoop of a sharpened tongue today.
The moral to this story is that you need to call your mother right now and apologize for your youth. Apologize just for being thirteen. I apologize to my own mother for my past transgressions frequently. It's quite cleansing. You should try it. I'm already waiting for the phone to ring 20 years from now and to hear my 33 year old daughter say to me, "Mom, remember that day at the Chinese buffet when I made you cry? I'm really sorry." I'm pretty sure I will cry again.