The Reverse Midas Touch

So here’s the thing.  I might like elementary age/middle school age parenting more than baby/toddler parenting.  This has potential to be the greatest revelation I have received in quite sometime.  I just never knew.  I always thought I was a tiny baby loving kind of mama, a chubby toddler loving kind of parent, but it turns out, that might not be the exclusive reality.  Maybe the real truth is, I like most, whatever stage of parenting we are currently in.  Because it’s not that I didn’t love parenting my kids during the younger ages…obviously, but goodness gracious that was a lot of work.  I feel a little guilty saying that because we live in an age of washing machines, dishwashers, and indoor plumbing.  When we traveled to Zimbabwe last year, I saw how my friend Judy raised all of her children in the African bush during wartime.  Okay, so maybe that was harder.  But still.

Last week at dinner I was reminiscing about those times of no sleep and nursing babies through the night.  Kev looked right at me and responded, “I’m gonna be completely honest with you.  I don’t think it was that rough back then, and I really don’t remember you loosing much sleep.”

If I didn’t know Jesus, I would have had so many things to say to him, or throw at him.  You know what I’m saying?  But Jesus said something like, “Thou shalt not kill your husband and bury him in the backyard.” So I instead replied, “Sweetie, you were unaware of my lack of sleep because of all the sleep you were getting when you would place a pillow over your head as soon as a baby began crying in the night.”

Whatever man.

But now we have a daughter in middle school, and it’s a whole new world of experiences and life and independence and I just think the whole thing is fun.  When your oldest child becomes a sixth grader, it causes you to mentally relive a little of the past you haven’t thought about in 25 years…or that which you have spent the past 25 years trying to forget.  Same difference.  One change that has taken place with this new generation is boys and girls no longer speak to one another.  It’s not that I care, I just didn’t know this would be the case.  You don’t think about this stuff until it’s happening, and then you kind of relearn the rules as you attempt to help and parent your kids through new stages of life.  Make no mistake however, the boys and girls are still aware of each other, but verbal interchange between them is unacceptable.  Enter in texting.  Texting is acceptable, and so begins the story of how I ruined Ella’s sixth grade year.  And it’s only November.

Admittedly, my kids have been somewhat sheltered.  Two years ago Ella came home traumatized from a weekend at church camp because her roommate “cussed the entire weekend”.  “Wow.  Really?  Like what were some things she was saying?” said this confused mother.  “You know, the ‘s’ words.  Stupid and shut-up.”

Oh my dear Ella.

We aren’t really that uptight around here, I’m not sure why she thought those were cuss words, but it kind of proves my point.  And then we pulled the girls out of school to homeschool, and I’m thinking somewhere in those years the “sheltered situation” was unintentionally magnified a bit.  And then my friend Cambre got Ella hooked on The Duggars, so now she has vowed she will not a kiss a boy until her wedding day.  We are good with that…thank you Jill Duggar for arguably being one of the only female role models on TV.  Ella is a rule follower, she’s strong-willed and determined, mature for her age, and she is easily frustrated when others around her will not follow the rules.  So when a boy began texting her and asking if she liked him (because he liked her), you would have thought it was the equivalent of a marriage proposal via iPod Touch.  She lost her mind, seeing as she translated this to be a threat to her Jill Duggar vow.  Lord have mercy.

I’m talking tears people.  “Why me?!?!?  Why is this happening?!?!?  This is the worst thing that could happen!!!  Ever!”

And because I have never raised a teenager before, and because it’s the most ridiculous conversation I have ever listened to thus far in parenting, and because I hate iPod touches, I told her to get a grip and just ignore it already.  “Ella, this is not that big of a deal.  I think this is just what some kids do in middle school, and all you have to do is ignore this and it will go away.”

She didn’t believe me, so she called my older sister who has ‘brainwashed’ Ella into believing she is the wisest of us all; but she heard the same advice there and was therefore satisfied.  So we ignored the kid with Justin Bieber hair and wearing a bow tie and seersucker pants in his Instagram profile picture.

A week later, he texted again.  Same question.  Same hysteria.  Same advice.  I talked her off the ledge, and convinced her to again ignore the text.  “This is not a big deal Ella, it will go away, I promise.” said this naive mother.

And then this week Mr. Justin Bieber hair texted again.  Bless his little persistent heart.  She brought me her iPod touch and in full Scarlett O’Hara drama exclaimed, “I can’t deal with this anymore.  Will you please tell him to stop texting me.”  I agreed it was probably time she responded, seeing as all the ignoring wasn’t working.   Now, I will also agree my attitude was somewhat flippant.  Being involved in such silliness is not how I intend to spend my time; but somehow, something was lost in translation because this kid replied back with an ambiguous comment that made both Ella and I think he didn’t understand, or worse yet, thought she was saying she liked him (even though it was me texting, but he didn’t know that).

Are you confused yet?

Ella began squealing, “Mother, what did you say?!?!”

And now I’m squealing, “I have no idea!  I thought I was clear!  How have I been sucked into this situation?!?!”

My heart began racing out of guilt as I reread the text.  I was starting to realize my wording wasn’t the best, and in my attempt to keep it simple and let the kid down easy, I actually kept it too vague.

Now there began the loud wailing, and next everyone in the house was awake and rushing to the scene.  Kev enters just as the final blow came through via text from the boy who was making my life difficult, “So I guess this means we like each other.”

Y’all.  There was not enough sedation in this world to have calmed Ella in that dark moment.  Kev laughed for a solid 20 minutes at my ability to enter a situation and cause death and distraction when I was armed with nothing but good intentions.  We call it the reverse Midas Touch.  It’s a curse.

Oh these poor firstborn kids.  They’re nothing but Guinea Pigs to parents trying hard to do the right thing, but cluelessly fumbling along the way with them.  Lesson learned.  But regardless of what Kev’s memory of the past is, I still say a crying 12 year old at 8:00 pm is less torture than a screaming infant at 2:00 am.  Hands down.

Have a great weekend


Amy Heywood