Surviving the tween trenches is not for the faint of heart. Standing your ground when the ground constantly moves will leave you second guessing anything that worked in the past.
I have two tweens. I don’t mean to brag, but the younger one seems to be advanced. The older one has gently led me into these rough waters. The younger one pushed me off the boat while I was fastening my life jacket.
I’m not alone, right? I see your head bobbing above water when I come up for air. Here’s the few things that have helped (this month)…
Because we can’t say anything nice and the name calling has worn me out. It’s like my children have never heard thumper’s mother and her sage advice….”If you can’t say something nice, shut up”. Or something like that. The minute I hear “jerk-face”….10 push-ups! Or “butt-face”….10 push-ups! (We seem to be focused on insulting faces in this house).
Please understand, I’m not concerned with form or actual push-ups. One of them went to the other side of the couch to push-up… This child counted so fast, that I’m certain there was no pushing-up happening. But it stopped the face insults. I’m more focused on stopping and completely changing the direction of the derailed train I’m riding at the time.
We have also changed it up to jumping jacks, but they get comical and it is hard to parent when your making fun of, I mean, laughing with your kid by jumping jack “11-teen”.
2. Words to the Mother!
The boy and I started writing letters during 5th grade when he was having feelings and need a place to put words. I totally forgot we did that for a season until the girl started the same last week. She is in 5th grade.
He and I shared a spiral notebook that we would leave on each other’s pillows after we had written something. She bought a mini mailbox that she had her daddy paint and mount on a pole in her bedroom, complete with a pretend address. She then self-addressed envelopes so I could leave them in her mail box. (Basically the same).
Both shared words they would never had said out loud. Just like in the car where the words seem to flow freely as they watch the passing vegetation, paper and words are not as scary as a face to face “momma I’m hurting”.
I recently came home to a five page manifesto from my 10 year old. I sat on the couch and read that my girl was lonely and angry. Through tears I read that she had been left out and ignored. These were words she wasn’t sure she could trust me with. But since I have proven to be trustworthy with little notes, she found confidence for some big words .
Of course, now that I know her real hurt, I feel paralyzed. I’m afraid it would be frowned upon to go up to her school to kick some 10-11 year old shins… Maybe.
But the words made it to my face. I think we count that as some sort of tween-trench-win. I’m sure in the next couple of years, I will find myself at a place when, any real words from them, will be life-sustaining. I’m starting that avenue now.
3. Walking away!
For years I have been able to talk and assume they would listen. I stepped it up with a “now” when simple words fell short. That progressed into a full on debate regarding things so important like short-length and laundry. I want to be right and I want my rightness to be acknowledged by my spawn. But here in the trenches, there is no agreeing or yes ma’am-ing without prompting.
For those rare moments when the genetic-competitive-winning necessity seems to poke me in the eye, I have learned to walk away. Instead of that snip comeback to cut you at your knees (hypothetically), I walk away. This is the absolute hardest of all the hacks. It’s hard to not win when I know I’m entering a season of “draws” for sanity sake.
But I walk away because my authority is not up for debate, nor is my fierce love for my two. I walk away in the heat of it all and every time I return, things have defused and I’ve gotten a “sorry for the crazy” so we can figure out what hormone was being thrown against the wall.
My only goal is to survive and fully fund a “therapy account”.
So have you tried jumping jacks or manifestos? What hacks have you found that works for your precious tweens/teens? I’ll take any help I can get!