Parent clocked by young woman

I couldn't tell if she was joking, until she started to cry. "You're always so mean to me and then you give this little laugh, like it's supposed to be alright. But, it's mean."

Okay, so that's bringing you in on the middle of this story.

I'm one of those people that trades insults and barbs with my closest friends. I guess I picked this up from things on TV, where it is cute to cut one another down, in a friendly way. I've been that way with all my best friends. My last best friend and I could cut one another in almost every sentence and never doubted that it was lovingly picking on one another. Each of us gave as good as we took. And, we were very good friends.

As I got comfortable with Sydney, I started to poke at her more and more, just like she said, with a little laugh or smile that means I'm kidding and I love you. See? If I didn't love you, I'd never say these things to your face and you know they're not true.

And, sydney had gotten into it, beginning to toss out barbs, just like I did and I pretended to take offense, just like I thought she did. Nothing serious. Never leading to an actual argument, because we were always kidding, right?

But, trading barbs with a gay man of my same age who knows all my secrets and vulnerabilities is apparently not the same as trading barbs with a vulnerable 13 year old young woman, who can't decide if she is happy about being big boned, doesn't know if dimples are okay, doesn't know if tan is good or "too hispanic", and simultaneously loves and loathes the natural body in her hair.

You also need to know that our comeback to one another for a while has been "you're so mean to me" so when she said it last night, I just laughed and didn't take her seriously. It took her a few minutes to actually get my serious attention, but when she got it, she had all of it.

And, my apology.

And, my heart swelled up with pride. She stood up for herself. In the right way. Like a young woman. Not shouting, but not backing down, either.

Oh, sure. This morning, she acted all of eight and a half again, but last night, I think I got to see a little glimpse of the woman she's going to become. And, I liked it.

I think vacation affected her. I think being around the horses and nice people and acting a little more grown up changed her...or maybe not so much changed as allowed her to develop a bit more...gave her confidence to say what she's feeling. And, I hope my appropriately apologetic response will encourage her to do it again.

Jeez, we're going to be in big trouble, aren't we?


P.S. I know this is supposed to be a quilting blog, but I'm having the biggest quilter's block about that quilt I was piecing in Arkansas. I made a wrong turn on the borders and can't figure out what to do. l


birdmommy said...

Good for her! That confidence will stand her in good stead if a boyfriend ever tries to control her with the whole 'I insult you, then tell you I was kidding when you get upset, then do it again to chip away at your self-esteem so you don't figure out that I'm a loser and you could do so much better than me' thing.
(sorry - bit of a hot button issue with me. I HATE it when I see a lovely young woman with some jerk, and if you talk to her she says that she's 'too (something)' to deserve better).

Impera_Magna said...

Good for Sydney for standing up for herself in an adult way, good for you for hearing her and apologizing, and good for your relationship with your daughter!

It's moments like this that you know everything is going to be alright...

Paul said...

I think the hardest thing to do as a parent is to apologize to our kids, but if we don't, they'll never learn how to do it.

I think that's why God doesn't send owners manuals. He lets us figure it out as we go, and we both learn from the process. Those experiences are sometimes very tough, but when you can look back and see the growth it is so enlightening.

Take Care,

Bratling said...

Isn't it funny how our sewing blogs end up being commentaries on life? *hands over a stitch ripper*

Becky said...

Lovely post, Lane. I think the vacation had a huge impact on Miss Sydney. You absolutely did the right thing. I had to apologize myself with my young'uns. It never hurts.
Have a great day!

Laura said...

I love to read posts like this! What a good dad you are.

Glenn Dragone said...

great post

Coloradolady said...

Remember Lane Hormones play a big part as to whether Sydney takes it as play or as offense. This is a TOUGH age, just like you said. But I am glad she stood up for herself in the right way....you guys are some of the best parents a girl could ask for...you seem to do all the right things and when you don't, you do the right thing by making it right again. Way to go!!

Anonymous said...

You are a wise man and a good dad.

Nancy said...

I am so glad to hear Sydney stood up for gerself. Hopefully, she will remember, in the future, that she was able to speak her mind and was not put down for it. You are good parents. Raising a teenage daughter should come with sainthood for the parents! Oh the things that hormones can do. I always loved my dear daughter but oh, my, were there times I did not like her very much. She was very dramatic, however, which made it hard. Just keep encouraging Sydney and even if she does get upset, she will know she is loved unconditionally and that is a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Horses have a way of doing this to people -they are wonderful when it comes to therapeutic breakthroughs even if it is just lightweight like communicating with an adolescent daughter. You don't even have to ride them just brushing or petting them can be so relaxing. Since she had such a positive reaction it would be good if occasionally she can at least visit some stable or farm with gentle bomb proof horses that would like a horse treat or some brushing. Many girls take every word to heart even if they seem callous and unhearing so you may need to change a bit even if it requires a deep breath and swallowing the words at time that come naturally. Sometimes it is better to walk away a minute and think things over before dealing with the irritating situation that might present itself with a daughter. It sounds like progress here if she is communicating rationally what she is feeling which I think is a great step forward with a daughter. They can be great but this age is just bumpy and communicating is really important at this time of their life. mssewcrazy

Barb H said...

Good for Sydney for speaking up in a way that got your attention and good for you for apologizing. My mother used to say the most hateful and insulting things to me and when I would tell her how hurtful it was, she would dismiss it by saying she was "just kidding." Which is an extremely passive way of hurting someone. As an adult, I try to not do that since I remember how bad it felt. Straight talk is always the best.

LynCC said...

Yay Sydney (and Lane!)

You hit the nail on the head - it's one thing for people to trade barbs with each other and be able to take them in the spirit intended, but it's something different altogether when it comes from a parent figure. Some kids are fine with it. But the vast majority cannot handle it and too many of those are unable to express their need. Good for both of you!

lw said...

You know, when most of us were teenagers, no matter how pretty we may have been, all we saw was the flaws. Tell Sydney from me that she is a beautiful girl and her hair and skin are lovely. And dimples are great!

Pauline said...

Barbs and insults in jest often are meant to be insulting in a sneaky way. People "back out" by saying "just kidding." It's one thing to trade barbs with another adult you know well and they know you, but a child can have their confidence demolished by such remarks. Especially a girl who doesn't yet understand her emotions and how they change with the month. A good line of defence for the child is to trade barbs, but often the child retreats and begins to take the barbs seriously and loses confidence. Tell me, would you trade barbs with your mentor, or another lady? Keep it light and so silly she can't possibly identify with something negative. Both or you handled this touch situation very well. You probably learned more than Sydney on this one.