My beautiful baby girl has been replaced by a jeggings-wearing, snarling Wolverine
YOU know how it is. Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, you had this astonishingly beautiful baby girl who turned into a sweet little thing who held your hand and hung upon your every word. Your home, you liked to say, was a place of love-hearts and pink teddy bears.
Then one day a Wolverine joined you for breakfast. You know just how much the Wolverine really, really hates you because she repeatedly reminds you. She tells lies. She shrieks. She squeezes, red-faced, into strange new garments called jeggings, slams doors, leaves make-up stains on the bathroom sink and stomps around.
She turns her pink princess bedroom into a pestilential dump and stays awake until after midnight in her unmade bed texting boys. You confiscate her mobile, she quietly locates it and extracts the sim card, which she then inserts into one of your old handsets.
It's several days before you notice your former phone sticking out of the pocket of her school skirt. A full-scale conflagration ensues.
In desperation, you confide in other parents. None appear to be particularly surprised. One experienced friend tells you resignedly that adolescence is the big white elephant of modern parenting. Nobody, she says, ever really wants to admit how bad it gets.
You turn to the experts. You ring your mother who raised three daughters. You tell her about the carry-on. She snorts. In schadenfreude-saturated tones she recalls how you were just as bad. If not worse.
Somebody recommends a great new book about teenagers by that TV guy. You read it. You nag your husband to read it. You look at each other in amazement. This book makes sense. This book could change your lives.
Things change, all right. Fingers start to point. Suddenly you're no longer just having verbal tussles with the Wolverine. You're fighting with her father.
It's all his fault, you snipe. He is the Teddy Bear parent (style C) who smooths everything over and avoids conflict. He stabs a finger at parenting style A -- the Shark. That's you, he ripostes -- the tyrant type who relies on brute power to settle differences.
You glare at each other with something akin to dislike. Then, phew, your eye falls on the bit that says most people combine the characteristics of more than one parenting style.
Moving on quickly -- but still squabbling viciously -- you've just begun the bit about working together to resolve conflict when the Wolverine slams, scowling, into the kitchen. Her eye lands on the book.
Reading that won't make you good parents, she snipes with a smirk.
A few days later, you find your parenting manual face-down on the floor of her bedroom.
Now you know you're really screwed.