When I was pregnant with my first child, I remember being worried that I was going to give birth to a cheerleader. Not literally, I went to lamaze class, I sawthe videos of what babies looked like when they popped out. They were naked, not dressed up in clothes to give us parents an idea of who they would be come. But wouldn’t that be nice? If our babies came with a clue as to the kind of kid they would become? I was not a cheerleader as a kid. I was a freak, an “alternative”, a crazy punk. I was deep, I was an activist, my concerns were far bigger than the football team and if I had latest the Benetton sweatshirt.
So, if I gave birth to a kid who didn’t share my view of the world, a kid who was only concerned with how she looked or whose only “cause” was to campagne for universal boob jobs, what was I going to do? I knew that I would have some influence on the type of kid my kid would become. But I also knew that some of who she was destined to be was already programmed as soon as she was conceived. My mother was a normal teen. She had normal friends, her biggest “FTW” (contrary to popular belief that does not stand for For The Whales…) moment was when she and her friends hid a bottle of vodka in the toilet tank on her class trip to Washington DC. No, they didn’t get caught, no they didn’t get so drunk they almost died. But boy oh boy, did they believe they were totally bad ass for that one!
Me, on the other hand, well, let’s just say that I didn’t go on any stinkin class trip and I never hid my vodka. I went to marches on the President’s front lawn for animal rights, I protested wars, I hung out with skin heads (although I didn’t agree with their philosophies). I had ANGST. I listened to the Sex Pistols and the Descendents and the Ramones. You could find me in seedy places just to hear bands. My life, as a teen, was about as different from my mother’s as it could be. So, different that she didn’t know where to begin when it came to setting limits or punishments. I think I confused her. If I had been a marching band kid, or involved in school government she would have probably been able to raise me with her eyes shut and one arm tied behind her back.
Now, back to my kid. She is beautiful, smart, funny, and kind. She is also 15 years old which means she is a total teen sometimes. She watches Keeping Up With The Kardasians….seriously. She went through a stage where she was obsessed with Paris Hilton. She spray tanned herself orange in an effort to look more like a “star”. The people she aspires to are slackers who have billions to spend on being slackers. She is not a cheerleader, although sometimes I wish that she was. At least cheerleaders are cheering for SOMETHING!!! My kid seems to have all of my FTW attitude with none of the “Save the world” spirit. This is our biggest bone of contention.
How did I raise a kid who doesn’t know (or seem to care) what she believes in? Who doesn’t use her “cause” to get under my skin? How did I raise a kid who listens to rap (when she wants to piss me off)? Where did I go wrong? I have tried so very hard to give her my values and views on all things worldly and spiritual. Quite honestly, it wouldn’t even bother me if she had gone in the extreme opposite direction of what I have taught her. ANYTHING would be better than this lack of caring. What she does care about is who won Next Top Model or who has the newest Abercrombie jeans. What did I do wrong?
When I went through confirmation class at church I argued and disagreed with what I was being taught. I went though confirmation because my mother said if I wanted to stop going to church, I had to be confirmed so that I was making a well-educated decision on exactly what I was rejecting. That sounded pretty fair to me. I did it. And promptly stopped going to church. I rejected my religion and began exploring “alternative” religions and concepts of faith. Partly to piss my mother off, happy Lutheran church lady that she was, and partly because I was interested. I wasn’t one to be spoon fed anything and just believe it was right. I was one to test and re-test everything I was presented with and then decide if it was right for ME.
My kid will be confirmed soon. She has to write a statement of faith. We worked on that yesterday. Or rather, I told her to write it, she claimed a case of the I-Don’t-Knows and that ended with me so frustrated I think my head spun around. I mean, come ON!! She’s a TEENAGER!!! She HAS to have an opinion, a view, an idea about what she believes? Nope. Why not? you might ask? Because she is MY teen. And the surest way to push my buttons is to act as if you just don’t care. She knows this. She installed my buttons so she knows exactly how to push them. And, after all, isn’t that her job as a teen, as MY kid? Is she not just carrying on the tradition of “pissing off your mother by being something she isn’t”?
She gets my sense of humor, she will support my causes, she loves much of what I love and she values much of what I value. But she is her own person. She is not a mini me and her path is not the same one I traveled. She has lived through just as much tragedy as I ever did and she is a pretty centered kid. I guess I have done something right. They say that the way your kid behaves as a toddler is a great indicator of how they will behave as a teen. And sure enough, she is using all the same stubborn tactics she used when she was 2. It is just way more frustrating now that she is 15.
She laughs at me when I yell at the Glenn Beck and Michael Savage on the radio. She really listens when I explain why I believe the things I believe. I know she is hearing me, I know somewhere inside of her is a person full of ideas to change the world. Just like my mother knew that someday I would be taking my own kids to confirmation class. I hate it when my mother is right.
So, no, I didn’t get a cheerleader, I didn’t get a crazy punk, I got a kid who is brilliant in her own right and who knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt exactly how to make me go insane. After all, isn’t that what I wished for? No namby pamby mamma’s kid for me! A kid with an independence and attitude! Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it!