Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hateful and ungrateful

Ah, nothing makes parents beckon the upcoming school year more than the final trip of the summer with your sour-faced teenager. By the end of the trip, you're praying fervently for the last three or four days to fly by so you can send them off to school, pack all your things while they're gone and move without leaving a forwarding address.

Stupidly, my husband and I planned a trip to the western part of the state to see a show of our favorite radio program being taped. This was the second straight year we had gone and had been looking forward to this final respite for months. I say stupidly, though, because once again we brought Earbaby and extended an invitation to her best friend Beth. Instead of getting them tickets to the show this year though, we got them a separate room, lots of food and snacks and rented them movies, so they wouldn't have to endure a boring night with us. Once again Beth was a joy. Once again, EB was a pain. When are we going to learn to just leave EB at home and bring her nicer friends?

I'm always amazed (I don't know why, after all these years) at how quickly EB becomes annoyed at everything and absolutely nothing. My husband and I always feel badly and embarrassed for her, because as she acts up, her friend is stuck trying to calm the waters. She goes along to get along, while EB gets annoyed by the sound of our breathing, talking, inviting them to a concert where they don't know every single song ever done by one of the more popular bands (we didn't go), and actually just existing for anything other than opening our wallets and shoving money and food at her.

And yet, we keep trying to make the family trips fun. She complained about our trip to Chicago, which was admittedly a bit of a fiasco with the wedding plans that were jettisoned in exchange for a rather awkward engagement party. But she got to see most of her extended family for a few days anyway.

And she's been busy all summer. When she's not shut up in her room binging on Netflix, she either slept over a friend's house, or had friends sleep here. It seems there was a party, sweet 16, quinceneara, or something every weekend. I tried not to bug her about getting her summer homework done, and she spent plenty of time haunting the shopping malls and other areas in the city, along with movie theaters. After she quit gymnastics, she found plenty of things to occupy her time.

But if the trip wasn't about spending money on her, she didn't want to go anywhere with us.

Now I'm not too hurt by that. Sure, it would have been nice for us to go to a movie some afternoon we were both free, but she would always rather go with her friends, on my dime. Time with mom and dad was only worth it if she got something in the bargain.

Her dad and I looked forward to this trip since last summer's time. The show is entertaining and funny, the weather was beautiful and getting out of the asphalt and grime of the city for a couple of days was magnificent. I had asked that EB be left at home, but at 15, we're still not ready, and she's not either. The compromise was her best friend and movies and food.

Still by Day 2, she managed to annoy us to no end. When we stopped and looked in real estate sales windows and I wondered (fantasized more likely) about maybe buying a second place out there, she muttered about us being able to afford that, but not to give her a sweet 16 party, or send her to Spain. See what I mean? She's been to Europe, I haven't. Her father and I work for a living and she doesn't, but still feels her wants should come before anything and everything else. Not her needs, they will always come first. But she believes her wants supersede everything else we might want to do with the money we make.

When the host of the radio show we watched made sarcastic comments about teenagers, we smiled knowingly. When he named his three daughters during the question and answer period, I felt his pain. Boy did I, right below my lower back.

Of course the Wicked Witch of the Northeast will change with the wind, or when she remembers something else she wants. She will go from ignoring, sighing and/or muttering under her breath to a sudden, bright, "Hey Mom," followed by her latest request (edict?) as if the last few minutes (or hours) of nastiness never happened.

If I wasn't so familiar with this pattern by now, I would swear she was trying to Gaslight me (I should turn to my husband sometime and say "oh, you saw the lights go down too?"). But no, she's not trying to make me crazy. She's just being 15. Making us crazy isn't necessarily her intention, but it probably is a bonus.

This kid better get back to school.

Before somebody drops a house on her.

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