Girl World: Notes From the Trenches of Adolescent Warfare

The New Girl Adolescence: Begins at 7 and does it ever end?

Posted Dec 30, 2013

Raising tween daughters is war. In no small way, I consider myself a war correspondent, reporting live from the front, from deep within the trenches of my daughter's not-yet-officially-started-yet-already -relentless adolescence.

As a chronicler and scribbler of such interactions, I offer a few 'doozies' (as my mother would say) to end the year with a bang and a lot of whimpering.

Here's my Mom's favorite:

We are in our respective rooms. I hear her yell "I love you!" from behind the iron curtain of her closed door.

Shocked and thrilled, I bellow back: "I love you, sweetie!!!" from behind my own closed door.

She replies: "NO, MA!! I SAID I LOVE YOU TUBE!!!!"

In Praise of 'a Regular Non-Mom Person'

Overheard 12-year-old daughter on the phone with a friend. They were discussing a complex multi-7th-grade-girl peace treaty currently in negotiations.

My Girl: Okay, so this is like, way out of control. You know who'd be good to talk to? My mom.

Girl on Phone: (No doubt voicing numerous age-appropriate objections.)

My Girl: No. No. It's not like that. You know my mom. She's super good at stuff like this. She TOTALLY GETS it. You can really talk to her like a regular non-mom person. She gives great advice and she doesn't like freak out about stuff like this. You should hear her talk about middle school girl issues. Seriously. SHE GETS IT.

Girl on Phone: (Apparently softening but resistant.)

My Girl: I don't know why. She's not like a regular mom, obviously, I mean, you know her. Kind of cray-cray. She's been through a lot and she's like old, but she remembers how bad it is when you're a kid. She's kind of like my best friend. I know, right? Weird.

Me: (Ugly-cry sobbing, face down on floor just outside her bedroom door.)


Textual Adversity 

7th grade daughter just texted this to me: Pick me up at 3:30

I texted back: I think you meant 'please' pick me up at 3:30

She texted back: I CAN'T TEXT, MOM, I'M IN A MOVIE!!!!!!!

Maternal Role Modeling

12-year-old daughter: "Mom, you are the best role model for self-confidence."

Me: (Gettin' kinda weepy) "That's a lovely thing to say. What made you think of that?"

Daughter: "I mean, look at you! Look at your hair! Look at what you're wearing! You don't care how you look. You're like the total opposite of a 7th grade girl. You don't give a rip what you look like. You just go out into the world wearin' that outfit, rockin' your wild hair... was that supposed to be a pony tail or a bun or whatever...nevermind. People would never guess you have the coolest job on the planet."

Me: "Or that I have a 7th grade daughter."

 The Grey Lady

I hear peals of screeching from 12 year old and her pal downstairs. I run downstairs, as is our custom, assuming something - or someone - is on fire.

Daughter: "Mom!! What's wrong with my forehead?? It's like a blood clot!! What's wrong with me??" (Panicky whimpers from her pal.)

Me: Did you hit your head on something?

Daughter: Demonstrates how she bonked her head lightly onto the front page of The New York Times.

Me: I look closely and see a dark, smudgy circle. "It's newsprint, you goofball."

Daughter: Ewe. What's newsprint?

Me: You're grounded. Give me your phone. (Fumbling.) Wait. How do you turn it off?

About the Author

Pam Cytrynbaum

Pamela Cytrynbaum teaches at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

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