The teenager finds out that on the other side of the boundary there is no cataclysmic event.

October 21, 2008

Somewhere between the anticipation of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, involving the attending of fashion shows and purchasing the biggest hatinator anyone has ever seen because it looked fab on the night amongst other outrageous hats, fascinators and hatinators but then bringing it home and being told “it looks like a mammoth satelite dish”, and “mmm, you should be able to pick up the race call from anywhere with that on your head” and riding in Around the Bay, including training and getting my bike serviced at the last minute by the same guy who teased me about the photo on my license last year but this year getting a lecture from him about bike maintenance, as in “you should oil your chain, and clean the grime off your frame and this is how you do it… ” and when enquiring why?, being told “because if you look after your gear it will look after you” which is something my dad would have said six thousand times to me before, I have been losing sleep over how to deal with a teenager who suddenly has a new boyfriend, insomnia, lack of interest in school, a blossoming social life and an irrepressible desire to spend hours in the bathroom putting makeup on and doing her hair. She has been sleeping with her mobile phone under her pillow and receiving texts from her boyfriend when she should be sleeping, and if not, likely to be staying awake in anticipation. She argued with me about being allowed to attend the after party for her boyfriend’s school play and told me she didn’t care that it would end late and tire her out for school because she didn’t care about school anyway.

However, over the weekend, she broke up with her boyfriend on Saturday, was visibly upset, talked about it with me the same day and said that it was what she wanted and that it felt like a load off her mind. On Sunday she spent ages mucking around in the bathroom putting a second hole in one ear, and a second and third hole in the other despite advice I’d given her to wait until she was at least eighteen before doing the multiples. All I said on the day was, you shouldn’t be faffing around in the bathroom for hours over your appearance when you have so many assignments overdue!

“I can’t believe you didn’t get angry at me when I pierced my ears”, she said to me after school on Monday. 

“What’s the point of being angry? It was already done. Getting angry wouldn’t have changed anything”.

“I suppose so. I just thought you’d be upset”.

“Well, I was disappointed. You didn’t follow my advice”.

“Okay then. Well I can live with that”. She seemed to reflect for a moment before continuing, “And by the way, I finished my science prac off over lunchtime today and handed it in. Yeah, I’m getting up to date with my work. I’m getting on top of it, and it feels much better. I’m sorry for saying I don’t care about my school work. I do care and I’ve decided to put a big effort in for the rest of the term. Because its only six weeks and I’ll be able to chill over the holidays. Yeah, and I’m gonna work hard in year eleven next year because I don’t want to develop bad study habits going into year twelve”.

This monologue was like pennies from heaven to me.

Later I wondered, why had the light suddenly come on? Could it be that in overstepping a boundary I’d set and piercing her own ears she realised on the other side of the boundary there was no cataclysmic event… just the same old turf… and for as far as she could see… and that it was up to her to decide where her boundaries needed to be?

PS. Do you want to see a photo of my hatinator?

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12 Responses to “The teenager finds out that on the other side of the boundary there is no cataclysmic event.”

  1. YES to the hatinator!

    And thank you for pointing the way to reasonable ways of handling teenage behaviour – I’m not there yet, but I’m nervous.

  2. ejenne said

    Hi Charlotte,

    missing from the recount of events above is how I got cross at her for saying she didn’t care about her school work. I went off into a bit of a rant actually. She told me off for ranting. I said I was only ranting because her attitude made me angry. And we left it at that.

    Have you heard of hatinators before? I am curious to know if its a term invented by fashion designers here in Australia or whether the hatinator is a world wide phenomenon.

  3. trousers said

    Answer to the first question (about setting her own boundaries): I hope so.

    Answer to second question (hatinator): yes!

  4. mirabella said

    Dying to see the hatinator!

    Ear-piercing is highly symbolic – see “Girl with the Pearl Earring”!

    My fashion effort this week was to glue three green decals to a black dress: a rather good move. now all I need is a new green hat/inator….

    The beret which I knitted for a friend’s 80th (same pattern as my last effort but with variations, and finished at 2am on the day of the party) was a big hit – with her 14yo granddaughter! The joys of fashion!

  5. Kit said

    Hi – ditto to what Charlotte said – I’m nervous too! I’m not surprised she had insomnia with the phone under her pillow – all that electronic energy buzzing around! I’m so glad she has seen the light – must be a big relief for you.

    I lost you when you moved blogs and yesterday suddenly found the post where you said you’d moved, so I’ve got you back on my RSS feed now and will be visiting again – sorry for my absence!

  6. JC said

    They keep you on your toes don’t they!
    I’m glad my teens don’t want mobiles ( though they would come in handy sometimes ) at least I don’t have to worry that they’re not sleeping because they’re texting.

  7. kate said

    Oh dear, the teenage years have started for you. You are handling it well – it’s so tough to know how to respond sometimes. I keep having flashbacks to my teen years and it helps me to keep from over-reacting. I keep repeating my mantra too, of picking my battles carefully. Life with a teenage girl is so different from that with a boy, I suspect. You are doing great – and learning that your daughter needs to learn some things for herself (as she demonstrated when she broke off with her boyfriend and told you how she does care about her schoolwork).

    ‘Hatinator’ must be an Aussie term. I’ve never seen it before. I quite like it though, as I sit imagining you in your new creation. A photograph would be wonderful.

    Sorry for my lack of visiting lately. I am slowly getting back to blogging … health issues tend to leave one doing the essentials in life, like cooking and getting the laundry done.

  8. ejenne said

    Hi trousers, I hope so too. She had been asking me questions like, what would you do if I got a tattoo… dyed my hair blond… etc etc. She obviously had an impression that I was fixated on her appearance. At least my reaction about the ears has dispelled that one for her. Hopefully she did it to test the boundary and that this is not the beginning of a whole series of child-changing ‘operations’.

    The hatinator is visible now as my avatar, but I’ll put a larger shot up in a tick.

  9. ejenne said

    Hi mirabella, I think you would look lovely in a green hatinator. Join us at the Oaks!

    I’m not surprised the beret was a hit with the younger ones, the style is very funky.

    As to the symbolic nature of earrings, hmm, let me think out loud on that one… In the story the earrings the girl wore belonged to the wife, they could represent the artist’s disregard for the symbolic meaning attached to his wife’s property. Or there is the earring as a gift to the girl, which could represent the intimacy that developed between the painter and his subject. In the painting the earring stands out as an object in juxtaposition with the girl’s face, who’s expression could be interpreted as slightly guilty, slightly self conscious and you end up asking, why? (the earring implicated in this, because of its positioning in the scene). A young girl of that era wearing an expensive earring may also have implications, ie of class, of having a wealthy suitor…?
    I don’t think I’m getting close to a universal symbolism, except that they could represent giving and taking as a piece of property, or they could represent relationships between people in their role as a gift, or they could represent standing in society – anything from wealth to belonging to a rebellious set. What do you think?

  10. ejenne said

    Hi Kit. Its lovely to hear from you again.

    About having a teenager. I was nervous too. But it never catches you by surprise. Its a gradual process. My only advice to people is to not worry, but to keep an open mind to change. Letting go feels right when it comes around.

  11. ejenne said

    Hi JC. I held off on the mobiles for as long as I could. But with all of these things, the older ones pave the way for the younger ones. Our Emma now has one (since last weekend), but Kat had to wait until year 8. Kat hardly used it until this year, when the bill for texting went through the roof. After a couple of monthly bills in the multiple hundreds of dollars, we’ve switched her over to a different phone plan. However, now that she independently catches public transport all over Melbourne its worth it for piece of mind.

  12. ejenne said

    Hi Kate, thanks for dropping by. I’ve missed you, and I hope your return signals a reprieve for you.

    You have hit the nail on the head with your comments about raising teenagers. ‘Choose your battles’ is definitely the moral of this story lol.

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