For any parent who has raised a tween and survived, somehow intact, this is not for you. No one understands or can comprehend how you did it. Wine perhaps? Rich with a nanny budget? Not sure but woohoo, congrats and all that. For the rest of us who have NO FREAKING IDEA HOW TO HANDLE THEM, this is for you. Every morning, my precious is woken by me. I never know who is waking up. Super happy, “like OMG, today is cupcake day in my class and all the kids are coming in with cupcakes and you made them for me right? YOU DIDN’T MAKE THEM?! I TOLD YOU to make them like three weeks ago” I ask, “Did you bring me a paper about it?” All hell breaks loose, she’s now pacing, panicking, her life is ruined, I’m the worst mom in the world, she hates me then BAM! “Mom, you can like, go to the bakery and just buy 32 cupcakes right? Can you get me the ones with Monster High on them? I so totally know no one else is going to have them. You are SO AWESOME I LOVE YOU!” She has now been awake for 120 seconds. Bleary eyed, you march off to the kitchen, seriously contemplating having Irish coffee every morning from now on.
Twenty-two dollars later, you leave the bakery and you can actually hear them whispering, “Yeah…mother of a tween…forgot to make the cupcakes…reason we are doing so well this time of year” as you carry the box to your car. You were instructed to bring them to the school not one minute past 11 AM because they are having cupcakes at 11:30 and “Please don’t ruin this for me mom. I told EVERYONE that you’re bringing them”. You park, 1/4 mile away since school is already in session and walk the damn cupcakes to the front door and get buzzed in to the school. I am just told to leave the cupcakes there and walk away. Wait a minute. I just paid twenty-two dollars for premium cupcakes with special little Monster High picks in them and you just expect me to walk away? Oh hell no. I want her to be there when I bring them in to the classroom. I am told that parents are not allowed entrance to the cupcake party. I revolt and remove one cupcake and toss the pick in the trash on my way out the door. “My homemade ones are better” I mumble in defiance on my way out the door.
There is this fine line of accepting your role as parent of a tween. One moment, you are cuddling on the couch, talking about life and giggling about things and the next minute, the phone rings and you have a very virulent strain of the plague. You must not speak or be present, as the tween does not want their friends to think she actually interacts with you, “O…M…G my mom is like, in the room and, I know right?” Five minutes later, you are her best friend again as the phone is put back on the receiver and she asks if her friend can come over. You agree and said friend arrives. They go to her room immediately, slap a do not disturb sign on the door and shut it. You hear maniacal giggling and other signs of life, but you are not allowed to enter. The sign specifically says so. They do emerge to demand to be fed and there is much eye-rolling about you having ALL the wrong snacks and how she has to put up with this all the time. Finally, you emerge with the “correct” snack and you are awesome once again.
The key to surviving this is accepting that you cannot win. Ever.
The only leverage you will EVER have is “Control over Technology”. While this isn’t a college credit course yet, I’ve heard whispers at the coffee shop that it’s in the works. There is a very successful way to manage your darling little tween. It’s a relatively old concept that denies them access to (for us used to be the corded phone with the 75 foot cord you could take into the basement and hide in a closet to talk to your friend) their electronic devices. All life ceases to exist when you take away THEIR precious. The temper tantrums you will experience become the stuff of legend, but this is the only way to truly gain control back of your life and your sanity, if any of it remains from the infant, toddler, preschool and elementary years. While they will at first react with military revolt-style rebellion, once they realize that you are the keymaster (keeper of the router password), you will at least get what you want, for now. All you have to do now is hope that they haven’t figured out how to hack the router yet, then you’re in trouble.