How can I shut up my ranting teen?
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London - Your toddler first beginning to talk is truly one of those magical moments that flood your life with joy.
This, you murmur through your sleep-deprived haze, is a greater miracle than Spanx.
It’s a cherished first, like all the others: the first feed, the first smile, the first bath.
I remember sitting in eager anticipation, like a disciple waiting at her guru’s feet, when the eldest of our four began to speak.
It started with one word: “do”, which meant “mine”. She said it so much we nicknamed her “littleDo”.
How things change. Today when she starts to talk, I sometimes want to shout the opposite of “do” and Sellotape my ears shut.
For since she turned 13, she has developed a skill I notice all teenagers possess - they are champion monologuers.
Like the baddies in Bond films, they can’t just get to the point. They have to burble on, treating us to a self-indulgent, long-winded backstory.
During our half-term holiday in Cornwall we have been a captive audience, sitting through ever-more nonsensical teen spiel that meanders loosely around a subject but veers off wildly from the starting point - it’s quite a skill.
Listening to her chat with her siblings is like being trapped in some kind of bizarre, immersive theatre experience. I am beginning to wonder if I should start a YouTube channel to broadcast them.
You can’t walk away because you’re often waiting to know the answer to the question you asked two hours previously, setting it all off.
My favourite monologue this week was one that began as an explanation for neglecting to do any art homework.
She rambled through why modern art is a waste of money (something to do with losing her sketch book) and ended commanding me: “So just go to your Zumba dance class and stop asking me about it.”
I have never even been to Zumba, whatever that is.
But in the same way you’re advised not to wake a sleepwalker, you shouldn’t interrupt a teen-girl monologue; they have to get whatever it is off their chest.
I guess this is their way of practising being a grown-up, plus they love the sound of their own voices - like politicians.
In fact, what she says is often so nuts it leads me to wonder if Donald Trump may be channelling a teenage girl whenever he steps in front of a lectern. A group of armed robbers could break in, burgle the house, tie me to the sofa and set me on fire and it wouldn’t distract her from getting to the end of a tirade.
Even if I shouted: “Look, there’s a white Siberian tiger in the garden!” she would push on through. My four-year-old could perform a miracle, such as eat a green vegetable, and the eldest would still make it to the end of whatever mad sermon she’s giving.
So I have to just listen to her earnest, indignant and confusing revelations.
As we know, teenagers take themselves very seriously. You cannot mock their pontificating because it’s more damaging than shouting at a baby, according to the parenting experts I have read on the subject.
Every minute of every day is a big dramarama in the mind of a teenage girl, if you ask me.
When I questioned her being late home and expressed my fears about her travelling around London without giving me notification of precise movements in these worrying times, I was treated to a long explanation of how the anti-terrorist squad works.
It was so detailed I wondered if she’d signed up and been on some kind of training course. I nearly asked to see her badge.
This No Man’s Land between childhood and adulthood is a testing time. Your offspring have grown up and, thus, look physically capable of surviving in the real world alone. Occasionally.
My eldest, who is already taller than me, is a sensible, smart and capable girl. She’s practical and reliable, and things look promising on the “coping alone” front. We have to start letting her go.
During one of her rants she made a devastating plea: she “wants out” of family holidays. She no longer wants to come to the Cornish village we have been visiting every year since she was born.
It’s boring. The teenage need to be anywhere but where your parents are has suddenly hit her hard.
Somehow this was the one monologue that made sense. And it broke my heart.
* LORRAINE CANDY is editor-in-chief of Elle magazine.