Thursday, January 19, 2012

Inconsideration ... Or Food for Thoughtless

They say, "It's the thought that counts."

All right. Well, what about the countless thoughtless things we deal with every single day as moms of tweens and teens?

My daughter is, by all accounts, a "very nice girl." Her older relatives adore her. Her teachers would like her to participate a bit more (she's surprisingly quiet in class, given how noisy she tends to be at home, in the car with a friend, or at the stable), but they tell me she's a pleasure. I get rave reviews from house guests, mothers of her friends, babysitting clients. They all agree that she is a "very nice girl."

When I hear all of these different constituents singing her praises, I want to pull her aside, look her in those sweet, compliant eyes and say ...

"Who are you? And what have you done with my daughter?"

You see, the tween who lives in my house is not a "bad girl," per se. She doesn't smoke or drink or hang out with the wrong middle school crowd. But, she is consistently thoughtless. She is about as inconsiderate as it is possible to be. Again, I'm not saying that she's "bad." She is thought-less, as in, she puts no thought into her actions or other people or how her actions affect other people. She is in-considerate, as in, she doesn't stop and consider anyone else's situation. Anyone else, as in, her loving mother. As in, me.

Here are several of the myriad examples I encounter on a fairly regular (daily, hourly, practically every minute) basis ...

She gets up each day, not with a sweet "Good morning, mom," but with razor-sharp resentment. Apparently, it is my fault that (a) it's morning, (b) she's tired, and (c) our society insists that fourteen-year olds attend school.

She leaves her dirty dishes on the coffee table, on the floor in front of the TV, on her dresser, on her desk. Sometimes (if I nag her), she brings them into the kitchen and leaves them on the counter. Basically, I can find dirty dishes pretty much anywhere in my house. Anywhere, that is, except in the dishwasher or the sink.

She practices origami ... with her dirty laundry. Untangling jeans and jodhpurs, underwear, socks, bras and tank tops, doubles my time in front of the washing machine. Add to this thankless job the fact that our basement has a particularly low ceiling (you actually have to stoop over while you're down there) and I'm particularly allergic to my daughter's horsey clothing, and you can understand why yours truly does not particularly enjoy laundry day.

She's in a hurry when there's somewhere she wants to go. Otherwise, she has no sense of time whatsoever. When I say, "Come right home," I might as well have said, "Take all the time in the world. I hear they're selling Frappuccinos at Starbucks." When I say, "I'll be outside the barn at 6:00," she hears, "I'll be outside the barn at 6:00, but by all means, you can come out whenever you feel like it. Nothing would make your mother happier than waiting in the car in the cold in the dark for forty-five minutes."

She sheds her belongings each afternoon when she returns from school. Really, I can follow a trail through the house: lunchbox, jacket, backpack, scarf, gloves, hat ... This habit of hers will come in handy if she's ever lost in a state park and they bring out the dogs for a search and rescue mission.

She would rather text her friends or play a video game or watch a YouTube video or ... or ... or ... or pretty much anything electronic than actually have a conversation with her mom. Even though, I've dropped everything to drive her somewhere.

The list goes on and on (and on). My own mother reminds me that it's better to have a daughter who presents a kind and considerate self to the greater world at large and concentrates all her thoughtlessness on me. I guess, she's right. After all, I do enjoy those parent-teacher conferences. But, maybe once, maybe on Mother's Day or on my upcoming milestone birthday, it would be such a pleasant surprise to hear a "please" or a "thank-you." Or not be kept waiting. Or not have to wrestle with her laundry or rinse her dirty dishes.

But, if and when that day comes, I know what I'll say ...

"Who are you? And what have you done with my daughter?"

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