As she’s grown into a teenager, almost a young woman, her fighting m.o. has changed.
No longer does she curl fingers and thumbs into little impotent fists and lash out at the door and the walls and anything else – including me – in the way. She doesn’t throw things, any more. Or bite. (Thank the Lord! Those calls from Kindy were always a little embarrassing.) Yet somehow her frustration is more refined, and her barbs sting more than physical blows and little baby teeth ever did.
Is there anyone as angry as a teenage daughter in full fight?
Last night World War 3 broke out in our house but it wasn’t a scene of physical damage. There weren’t any holes in the wall, or smashed vases, as I have seen in other homes of teenagers. No wilful damage or language that would make a sailor blush.
It was a relatively quiet, enemy action.
My oldest daughter is the most passionate of my three, and the most obstinate, which is not always the best combination. Add in the confusion and insecurity of the teenage world and the result is an emotion tornado that would frighten the residents of Tornado Alley.
I don’t blame her for this, at all. In fact it reminds me of myself at the same age, though I think I was possibly more argumentative, and though I cringe remembering…probably more bloody minded too. I left home at 16 and flew to the other end of the country to attend University, and never really returned home. I decided to get engaged to my first boyfriend at the tender age of 19, and when that all broke up I decided, in my wilful way to go backpacking around Australia and Asia. And as no one was available to go with me, I decided, in my bloody-minded way, to go alone.
And then there was the time that I rang Mum from Changi Airport and advised that I would be landing in Bangkok on my own at midnight and would possibly just sleep at the airport. The phone card ran out at that very point, and she didn’t hear from me again for over three weeks as I backpacked through Southern Thailand, alone. No doubt she thought I was dead.
Passionate, wilful, determined, stubborn, marching to my own drum..annoying traits as they were for my family (and Mum in particular) there was one upside. They kept me safe. When others offered me the wacky baccy – like Clinton, I did not inhale. When others suggested that picking up a cute drunk Swede in the drink-fogged early hours of a Sydney morning, was a good plan, I declined. He asked me what I liked for breakfast, and I told him I didn’t eat breakfast.
So as I fought with Dark Princess last night I couldn’t help reflecting on how far she’s come, and as the fear came over me that maybe this is the point that she rebels completely and walks out the front door, I hung on to the hope that she is her mother’s daughter and that we will get through this wild time.
As she stormed off upstairs she spewed out with disgust, apropos of nothing, my Christian name. This child who would once melt my heart by calling me Mumma …oh how I remember that…
“Mumma, I’se want oo.” She’d call out for me in that church-bell voice, and she’d call out often. Back then she wanted me a great deal, she wouldn’t push me away at all.
My other children called me Mummy, but not this one. For this little wild child I was her ‘Mumma’. I was never Vicki, for my babies. I didn’t believe in that formality or that casual modern way that some families have of children calling their parents by their first name. Even my husband calls me Vic, or honey, or darling, and close friends call me Vic.. and friends of the blog call me Vix.
Hearing her call me by my Christian name jarred. It felt as if somehow that special relationship I have with my daughter, was torn. Son, now 18, would never have called me by my Christian name, but maybe parenting teenage girls is harder than parenting teenage boys?
Later I reminded her quietly how she used to call me by that special name, and asked her to not take my Christian name in vain again.
I think she understood how important it was and I doubt she’ll do it again. But by the same token, I know that it was a warning shot over the bow. Her time to up and leave is almost here, and I just hope that all that wilful nature keeps her safe, as it once did, her Mumma.
Do your children call you by a special name, or by your Christian names?