This is a guest post from the great Sherry Antonetti.
“I’ll be happy with either a car or a puppy” she insists.
No amount of rational, humorous or occasionally peevish discussion from me will change her mind. Not that it matters, because she’s not getting either. Falling back on the old chestnuts, “Character is what you reveal when the world is not going your way.” and “Things don’t make you happy and never will” eventually get me to the core of the problem. She misses her old school. It’s a fair complaint. In truth I miss it too. But the reality is we don’t have the resources we once did. She misses the people. She knows the truth of the matter. She misses the people. It is “People that make you happy.” and without them, she is miserable, more so than teenagers normally are.
We’ve discussed strategies, we’ve gone to therapy, we’ve worked to give her outlets and opportunities to be with her old school friends. It is never enough because it is not all. Every once in a while, the grim anger in her rears up, cold, flinty, silent, refusing to engage any of us because all of us together keep her from what she wants, which is not us.
And sometimes I do better than others, dealing with her frozen heart. I’ve sung Let it go, I’ve made jokes. I’ve listened to call in shows and read therapy blogs to try and come up with counter measures. My husband keeps being gentle. I keep wanting to say, “Grow the hell up!” “Life’s tough and not everything works out.” I’ve said it too. I feel horrible afterwards, because it’s never a pleasant experience, learning that truth. “You can’t always get what you want…” doesn’t satisfy anymore than things, anymore than getting everything you want would.
The struggle, the push through the hard parts, this is the growing part of life, the most important thing about living, when you have to struggle and not quit, when you have to chose, to love, or to run away. To brave on, or to be afraid. To live, or to regret. I know what I want her to chose. I know what I wish her to chose. I know what I pray for her to chose. It’s an obnoxious parenting reality, that every lesson my children learn, I’m relearning. Because both she and I are not in control of each other’s responses to life.
And so I look at the frustration of my 16 year old and wish I could give her her heart’s desire, and know I can’t. It is a real pain, something I can’t soothe with getting published or a job or chocolate or praise. I can cover it for a time, like a car or a puppy, but the wound will remain until she decides what to do with it, pick at it forever, or let it hurt and heal. And I will have to do the same regardless of her decision.
Man…this growing up stuff stinks no matter what the age.