Times I Refrained From Telling My Tween Tough Sh*t

by Michelle Downing September 03, 2017

An astonished face

I used to laugh when people referred to kids as “tweens.” I figured a kid was either a teenager or a child. There wasn’t some middle ground. Until my daughter turned 10, that is.
Some people say 10 is too young to be a tween. Some say their child became a tween even younger. But being a tween is more about the attitude – the attitude your child cops when they think they are a teenager but their birth certificate says otherwise.
“Mom, I need a cellphone. Lots of kids in my class have them, you know?”
Of course, I wanted to say “tough shit” to this one, but I refrained.
“If you really, truly, think you need a phone, maybe we could look at getting you one for Christmas. We can get a flip phone at a decent price, and then you’ll be able to call me if, for some insane, unknown reason, the adult you are always with doesn’t have a phone available.”
“Ew, a flip phone? I don’t want one then.”
Well, that ended quickly. I knew she only wanted a phone to play on apps all day, and she has a tablet for that. A monitored tablet with restricted time. Obviously, that’s not good enough for her, but it’s perfect for me.
“Did you just have kids to do all your chores for you? I don’t want to unload the dishwasher again. I just did that the other day.”
This one took a minute to respond. Because, of course, I only had kids to do chores for me.
“You know, if you have too many chores, we’ll just trade for the day. I’ll feed the cat and unload the dishwasher. You make dinner, clear the table, load the dishwasher, take out the trash, do the last two loads of laundry, fold and put them away, mow the backyard, pull the weeds in the flower bed, give your little sister a bath…”
I’m not sure where she quit listening, but she had by then. I could feel her eyes rolling as she angrily stacked plates on the counter. I walked away, victorious again.
“I don’t want to go to school today. It’s so boring!”
Yes, I’m sure it is!
Okay no, I can’t say that. I just reminded her for the 87th time that school is important to get where she wants to go in life, that it’s a great opportunity to better herself – one not given to everyone.
“At least you still get recess. I don’t get one of those.”
Then there are times where I’m just not witty enough, and I just tell her she can’t because I said so.
“Why can’t I stay up later?”
“Why can’t I wear makeup?”
“Why can’t I dye my hair pink?”
“Why can’t I get my own dog?”
I know I’m going to have to work a little harder. If it’s hard to reason with her as a tween, her teenage years are going to be difficult. She’s going to want a late curfew, a brand-new car, piercings or tattoos, the freedom to date, and more things I may not even be able to imagine yet.
I’ve obviously got a smart girl on my hands. At least for now, while she may roll her eyes at me 20 times a day, she still listens to reason and trusts her mom’s instincts.
Hopefully, as a teenager she’ll do the same.
When she’s older, I think it’ll be more than acceptable to explain to her that life doesn’t always work out the way you want and things don’t always go your way. In other words, it’s just tough shit.

Michelle Downing


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