I feel way too young, and yet way too old, to be dealing with teenagers. One is full-blown, another one preteen; but just as my children started the “terrible twos” at one, teenagehood seems to be setting in early.
The other day, they were complaining that I have favorites. Of course, I favor everyone except for the one who is complaining at the time. But, interestingly enough, they all got together and voted on it. They decided that I love my youngest the most, followed by the next youngest, and then the second-to-oldest and then the oldest. They didn’t even realize that they went in order.
I will admit, at times, I don’t like them all the sameWhat I didn’t try to point out to them was that not only was this the order of their ages, it was also a perfect ranking by attitude: smallest to largest. And while every good parent will say, and most definitely put in print, “I love all my children equally,” I will admit, at times, I don’t like them all the same. And yes, it is a lot easier to speak sweetly to my little girl who thinks I am the best thing on the planet than to the one who sometimes wishes I wasn’t even on it.
As I write this blog, it is almost one in the morning. Not that this is particularly late (or early?) for me, but what is making this moment unique is that I am getting nonstop e‑mails from one of my darling daughters. She is angry at me, and won’t go to sleep. But she doesn’t want to talk. So instead, she is sending me e‑mail after e‑mail depicting in great detail what I have done wrong, along with pictures of me that she manipulated in some program to make me look oh-so-beautiful.
While I do not want to deal with the waking of my sure-to-be little monster in the morning, for now I am greatly enjoying our exchange.
Because there is a distance between us and she doesn’t see me, she can be more open. She is also actually reading my responses, whereas she would most likely not be willing to listen to my words. And, as angry as she is pretending to be, she is loving the attention she is getting and the back-and-forth we have going. You see, she is saying things that she honestly wouldn’t dare say to my face: no doubt, smart thinking on her part. But because it is in e‑mail, I am finding it funny rather than insulting as she intends. Even more so, I am able to write what I wouldn’t have the patience to say. I definitely believe that when we least feel like saying “I love you” is exactly when it needs to be heard the most. So, for every e‑mail I am getting (and I have received another five since my last paragraph), I am able to write back telling her how much I love her, how sorry I am she feels this way, and how I will try harder next time.
And guess what is happening?
No matter how hard she throws her punches, I’m not going anywhereShe is calming down, starting to joke around, and realizing that no matter how hard she throws her punches, I’m not going anywhere. Specifically because we are not talking, we are actually communicating. If we were having this conversation face to face, she would have been sent to her room a while ago, angry and upset, and I would have been frustrated. Instead, she has been able to unload what is bothering her, get my attention (albeit through the keyboard) and receive love notes for every bit of anger mail that she sent. Whether or not she wants to believe it, she is reading it. And every time I tell her how much she means to me, it goes somewhere into that brain and little body of hers and plants a seed.
Well, after 27 e‑mails, it appears she has forgotten why she was so mad at me in the first place. Now if only I could get her to go to sleep . . .
I just had 'words' with my daughter and in retrospect email would have been better.
It was silly. She was involved in her 'stuff' and did not yet ask about our trip so miffed I remarked on her omission and miffed she said she was going to ask. Better to sit on it or write it out first and maybe that haste would not introduce the hurt.
Los Angeles, CA
I thought it was because of my inability to articulate properly but now I realise that perhaps my written word brought out more truths then they all wanted to face.
SAN JOSE, IL
To this day, our daughter has no idea that we ever fought, and now I can even say that my ex and I are good friends and a great parenting team.
I recommend email communication to anyone who needs help expressing themselves. The internet is a great neutral mediator!
W Hartford, CT
Thank you for giving me some hope.
silicon valley, CA
fort irwin, CA
It was not the funny-ness of it - and I laughed heartily through much of it.
It was not the outcome of the story - which, Thank G-d, was good.
It was not that you chose to say "I love you" to a teenager who can't - and, from experience, won't - appreciate what this means until her child does something similar.
It was how you talked to the root, to the essence of what it is: Communication was still open, despite it being closed.
And this is not just a miracle of a mother-child, but of the internet and email.
It was truly a beautiful piece!
But isn't a little dangerous that we hide behnd our phones, laptops, etc to be able to express to others how we truly feel?
Will the art of communication and real sharing of emotions be completely lost if the only way to say "i love you" is through text?
I'm worried that it cheapens relationships if its so easy to write what you feel and if it comes out wrong just add a smiley or wink face and all is good..
I'm a victim of this as well and have even developed beautiful meaningful friendships through text but i question how true and real it really is..
North Miami Beach, Florida
It was wonderful meeting you at Chabad of Cobb and you never cease to amaze me in your terrific insight. I have a 26 year old son who still lives at home and I agree with you about the electronic communication!!I shared it with him on facebook. Now I hope he reads it.
I find it a little hard to identify with this as I had only one brother and was often not talking with him. Oh well, we live and learn.
Long Island , NY