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“It’s no use talking unless people understand what you say.”                         ~ Zora Neale Hurston

Well, McKenna found her voice this weekend, and apparently the best way to get her talking — get roped into coaching her soccer team at a 3v3 tournament. It would seem my daughter feels most comfortable expressing herself, at least to me, during a 24 minute game where time is precious and the play quick. Taking a few seconds to deliver a snide remark and hair flip to your mother on the sidelines is probably not the best idea. My daughter didn’t care.

I heard it all Saturday, some of which would better have been left unsaid.

Here is where I interject with, “Yes mom, you were right.” It didn’t take long for me to want to silence one of my children after that promise in my last post to keep them talking, and the means by which I wanted to do that could have very easily landed me in a jail cell for a very long time.

“Few things are more satisfying than seeing your children have teenagers of their own.”  ~ Doug Larson

In fact, my daughter was told multiple times a short five hours or so after I had written that post, to stop running her mouth. She had something to say about EVERYTHING, and she didn’t care what it cost her, she was saying it!

She said it with eye rolls. She said it with exasperated sighs. And she said it as a player scooted around her for an easy goal, but it didn’t matter. She was going to get all that anger, frustration, teenage angst, whatever had been building up inside her over the past couple of months, out and it was spewing all over that 30×40-yard soccer field that day, and I was on the receiving end of it. Lucky me.

“No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I’m not talking about the kids. Their behavior is always normal.” ~ Bill Cosby

And it worked. As usual, she baited me hook line and sinker, and I responded in an A-plus fashion. I argued with her, I stomped my feet. I pulled her off the field and threatened to sit her for the rest of the game. And did it make a difference. No. She sat their in all her almost-teenaged smugness knowing she had won. Of course I would put her back in, we only had one sub and had played five games already that day. The kids were dying, we were in the final, so now what?

I said a silent prayer to myself that I would stand by my guns and she could watch her teammates continue to get their a@s#s kicked in the remaining six minutes of the final, but that lasted approximately 30 seconds, and then someone raised their hand, signaling for a much-needed break. So in she went, puss on her face and all. My stomach reeled, and I could taste the blood in my mouth as I stood their gnawing on my lower lip contemplating the ways she would pay when we got home.

“Heredity is what sets the parents of a teenager wondering about each other.”  ~Laurence J. Peter

Oh, my mother is loving this post. Why? Because McKenna is ME, approximately 25-30 years ago. Mouthy, know-it-all, athlete who used to use the soccer field, swimming pool and softball fields, as venues for my teenage rebellion. It is here were I could glare my most sarcastic and exasperated of glares at my parents. I could dare to turn away first, with that teenaged-way of whipping my head around so the hair flip said it all, even if I wore it in some sort of mullet, shag, Bon-Jovi-style perm sort of way that was too short to do much of anything. I could tell them to “Shut up!” even if it wasn’t loud enough for them to hear, and there were a few things I’m sure they heard, but chose to ignore only because I was in the midst of a game. I could flip them off in my mind, and I could challenge them to do it better, even if that challenge was only communicated through improving my play on the field.

Unfortunately, that is where Kenna and I differ. My teenage defiance came out in increased play on the field or in the pool. I dribbled quicker and made more concise passes. I swam faster and earned personal best times in the pool. I’d hit a homerun or work harder for that double play. My parent’s knew how to motivate me!

I am still struggling to find what motivates McKenna, but I know it is not by challenging her. The more I push, the more she shuts down and the excuses come. “My back hurts.” “I twisted my ankle.” “My knee is bleeding.” (It was. But suck it up!) “I didn’t know if I was playing offense or defense.” (Now excuses and “injuries,” that sounds more like her mother back in the day.)

But this shutting down when challenged not only happens where sports are concerned. She has begun slacking on some of her assignments, and is falling behind a little on her Virtual High School class. Her math grades are declining and she continues to complain about not being able to “do math.” McKenna cannot be counted on lately to help around the house unless told five times in an increasingly higher tone, arms flailing (mine), and with lots of comments about my disappointment in her (Now that’s the way to build her up. Ugh). Kenna is entering into the midst of adolescence, and mom and dad are in for a ride.

“Mother Nature is providential.  She gives us twelve years to develop a love for our children before turning them into teenagers.”  ~ William Galvin

For now, Kenna is going to be home for a few weeks spending some QT with her family, as are her two brothers (Oh yeah, there is another post coming involving the two of them real soon.) No more weekend-long sleepovers, and friends in and out of the house on a daily basis. We have only school, babysitting, sports practices, and home for a while. The cell phone is mine when she gets home, and the electronics are for schoolwork only!

And you know what? That usually is enough. The new/old rules were implemented yesterday and McKenna hung with her dad, took a hike with him, Max, and a friend, and she even sat (albeit silently) by me during a movie. She gave me a hug before bedtime last night, and we even shared in some brief conversation. This morning, Kenna even emptied the dishwasher (and did her brothers portion without being asked), to help him out, since he moves kind of slowly in the morning.

I know the next few years are going to be difficult for all of us, and as much as they push us away, I know our kids are going to need us more than ever. And really, I do want to keep them talking. Is it too much to ask to have that talking happen without the sarcasm, eye rolls, and venom spewing from their mouths? Please, don’t answer that.

P.S. Kenna’s 3v3 may have lost the final, but they qualified for the National 3v3 Tournament in Disney World in August. Woot! Woot! Though we are currently in search of another coach. I’m out!

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