Tweens should come with a warning label or, at the very least, some sort of contingency plan.

Really, it seems only fair because let’s face it, no one gives it to you straight on the whole, “This sweet, innocent, little, freckle-faced child of yours is going to one day (very soon) turn into a sassy, in the name of Kim Kardashian, ‘Where-the-[expletive]-did-you-put-my-concealer,-Mom-’cause-these-freckles-ain’t-gonna-cover-themselves’ 11-year-old with an elevated sense of entitlement.”

I suppose it’s entirely possible my dear daughter, while sweet, was never really innocent. Guilty as charged. Read my rap sheet, weep and hang me out to dry. Sorry.

I know I’m usually not one to air my dirty laundry, but I’ve never been very adept at the whole “let’s keep it PG in here”/red lipstick and stilettos are for indoor play only (circa the preschool years). And anyone who knows my daughter knows she’s truly most at home in a leather jacket and pair of Hepburn shades. It doesn’t really matter, but more goes without saying: there’s a future convent with her name on it, high on the hill where no lonely goat herders but Mother Superior awaits, hopefully with some good old Do, a deer and I, an IUD.

I love my daughter. She is and has always been the source of great humor, grey hairs and many a quick-witted, edge-of-our-seats sarcasm and sideways glances (think Firegirl meets Alexis Rose). But the tween years … ah, the tween years have, without hesitation, added a refreshing twist to that delightful mocktail of a cocktail they call mothering.

So here’s my “mom tale.” Truly, I feel it all too imperative to impart a few words of not wisdom but warning for what lies ahead should you find yourself without a net or stiff drink in your hand and on the precipice of pre-teen-hood. Maybe look before you leap …

“How to Know if You’re Living with a Tween Girl”

  • You find yourself yielding to an unyielding amount of mounting demands just to keep from having to endure yet another round of rousing ramifications for not carrying her backpack in from the car (so not her job), purchasing the WRONG type of pizza poppers (was there ever a “right” kind?), not having those Athleta leggings laundered and laid out like “service with a smile” by 7:52 a.m. Monday thru Friday, thankyouverymuch.
  • Wet towels are multiplying in multitudes in multi colors like 16-going-on-17-days-old of mold and, despite your somewhat nice and somewhat not-so-nice requests to not turn the hardwood floors you are very much renting into a science experiment, she insists that… A) the towel rack is too far away; B) the towel rack fell down the last time she tried to hang her towel on it so she can never attempt to hang it there again; C) the towel rack looked at her wrong then ghosted her; D) all of the above.
  • The well hath gone and dried up and died a slow death. Please don’t think even if you wanted to that you will ever have the luxury of taking that much-needed (Jesus, Mary and Nair … I could braid my armpit hair) shower because it is occupied from now until the end of your lease. (Re: the moment that garden hose goes all “Calgon, take me away” on you.)
  • You can’t breathe right or stand correctly or match your shirt to your leggings apparently. These small crimes against humanity are most commonly committed at school functions. Example: Middlebrook Walk-Thru, where your tween will likely spend the better part of an hour pretending she is orphaned while muttering under her mask at you to “not make stupid jokes no one thinks are funny” while breaking the world record for consecutive number of eye rolls not attributed to a seizure.
  • You automatically say everything three times. “Plugin your Chromebook. Plugin your Chromebook. Plugin your Chromebook.” And still, the Chromebook lies dead in the morning.
  • You automatically say everything three times to people other than your tween. “Just a Venti latte with oat milk. Just a Venti latte with oat milk. Just a Venti latte with oat milk.” Thank you to the nice baristas who allow for much repetition in their day.
  • You automatically say everything three times to your husband. “Can you take out the garbage? Can you take out the garbage? Can you take out the garbage?” John Wayne’s still as dead as that little Lenovo number and those bags are taking over like wet towels.
  • Solitary confinement is included but not limited to generally every area of everyday living. You will be summoned only when your servitude is required, mostly to deliver those questionably off-brand pizza poppers or to plug in the Chromebook or the not so rare occasion when you’re out running errands and get an urgent call to come home because she’s in the middle of a really intense (when are they not) episode of Manifest and can’t really get up or (God forbid) press pause to get herself a glass of water. You may drive home “just this once” because you feel somehow sorry for her? But please be advised to hand off that beverage as quickly as humanly possible and head for the hills, Maria. Lingering in the doorway is strictly prohibited as is any and all verbal communication of any kind. Move along, now. So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye.
  • You start to think, maybe you aren’t actually alive, (think Bruce Willis in Sixth Sense) … like you walk into the room and she doesn’t look up. You speak directly to her, addressing her by name, nothing. You purposely drop something, maybe even on your own foot, shouting loudly in pain. Not even a flinch. No pizza poppers? You are dead to her.
  • It smells like a Macy’s department store, Bath and Body Works, or like maybe she was eating Yankee Candles? You continue to smell this sort of rich, saccharine odor long after she’s left for school, while she’s away at summer camp and in your sleep. You have confidence in confidence alone, that your nostrils and sense of taste and smell may never be the same.

And although the aforementioned are just a few of my favorite things about her, I can’t help but smile when she goes to hold my hand while crossing the street (SeeClickFix: intersection by Village Market) because I realize in the midst of all that Macy’s Day Perfume and Parade of never-ending towel turbulence, in spite of all the not-so-subtle muttering and accusations, that my high-flying eyebrows look far more like Burt’s from “Sesame Street” than Jennifer Connolly’s in Inventing the Abbotts and did I really think I could pull that off? Despite that black leather jacket and too cool for middle school, ‘see ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya,’ don’t get up in my business, woman attitude with a capital ‘A’, she’ll still always be my sweet (questionably innocent) freckle-faced child.

Columnist Lesley Kirschner grew up quiet, in the woods, and devoid of siblings so her hobbies quickly became reading, writing, and talking to inanimate objects. She also spent a considerable amount of time doing voice-overs for her dolls and watching too much daytime television–channel 3, sometimes channel 8, if the weather was good and the antenna wasn’t acting up. She was in attendance at school, graduated from a very much not notable college not worth mentioning, and was transplanted to Wilton with her husband, Ambler Farm‘s Farmer Jonathan and their (baby makes) three children almost a decade ago. Although she never quite found her calling in life, other than perhaps the doll voice-overs, which in hindsight were eerily convincing, she’s happy to try her hand at writing and is thankful for the support and community she found on Facebook’s Buy Nothing Wilton. Lesley realizes while this is all very exciting, she’s not winning a Pulitzer so she’ll wrap it up and be quiet. She’s had a lot of practice.

One reply on “Wish You Were Here: Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-T-as in Tween”

  1. Thanks again Leslie. Been there. And now that my son is a college graduate paying his own bills, I still occasionally walk into his childhood room (where all the wet towels once lived) and try to get a whiff of his teenage self. It all goes too damn fast. Onward.

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