Family Life

Handle her with care

Getting a whole new perspective on my teenage daughter's Sunday morning breakfast ritual

It’s early Sunday morning and, unusually, our 14-year-old daughter K is up.

I’m so tired I don’t even want to look at the phone to see just how early it is. We’ve been at the Netflix and the wine, my missus and I, and she is as stuck to the bed now as I am.

How do I know it’s our daughter?

Well, dear Watson, the first “clue”  was the full, echoing clack of the main bathroom door being closed behind her. Not for K the gentle easing of the door behind her so as to not disturb the sleeping house.

Breakfast is being made. There is a noise for every step: cupboards are opened impatiently and slammed shut, a drinking glass is banged down on to the worktop, followed by a reverberating cereal bowl.

Perfect cinematic character establishing stuff, maybe not so perfect for slumbering, grumbling parents in the room directly overhead.

Another rummage and clunking cupboard shutting and I can actually hear the Special K flakes being shaken from the bag.

Frozen yogurt and the milk are extracted from the fridge, which has its own fridge thumping shut sound. She just seems to do it louder.

The blender whirrs into action.

She makes a lovely smoothie, does our girl, and this one must have been particularly tasty as there is a loud slurping noise as she stomps up the stairs, and a satisfied belch as she passes our bedroom.

I am about as rested now as a dog with an itch. And one paw sorer than the other.

Each sound thuds into my brain. My eyes are tightly shut but blinking furiously. I am locked into that seething, teeth-grinding, dilemma all parents know: should I say something or save my energy/sanity for a later battle?

Last night’s resolutions to do better with our girl are forgotten now as yesterday’s resentments feed into this morning’s indiscretions.

As is my wont, my little local tale of a noisy unthinking teenager has grown bigger and bigger in my head until she is the lead character in yet another chronicle of Ungrateful Generation Snowflake and the Bastardry of Modern Parenting.

And the words of Steve Earle’s My Old Friend the Blues seep into my weary, sorrowful head.

Earle 2
Guitar Town, where you’ll find My Old Friend The Blues

I don’t know if it’s the saddest sweet song or the sweetest sad song I know, but it floors me and it lifts me every time.

“Just when every ray of hope was gone

I should have known that you would come along

I can’t believe I ever doubted you

My old friend the blues …”

The bedroom door is opened as K leans in: “Mom … Mom … can you drop me to the gym … I told * I’d be there in 10 minutes … Mom …”

A stirs, and confirms she will. The door is shut. Thoughtfully. Gratefully. But still, what the hell! 

I turn to face A beside me and my rant is just warming up, like the day.

“Look through the curtains, it’s a lovely morning … the gym is only a five-minute walk … and she wants to get fit, and she won’t even walk …”

My wife’s large slate grey/green eyes look at me, into me, and something in her expression dissipates my anger, and this dog with the itch hits the paws button.

She speaks: “Isn’t it great that she’s up, and doing something, going out …”

“Hell, yeah, of course it is …”

“It’s only a minute in the car and I’m delighted she’s doing it … she got up, got herself all set up, breakfast … you know how hard that can be on a school morning to have her up and ready and eat a proper breakfast before she goes …”

“ Yeah, I know that, but surely she should walk .. especially on such a lovely morning … she really needs the exercise … why can’t she let you, and me rest … it’s Sunday morning FFS …”

“Look it’s a start, she went last week as well … I so want to encourage her to continue, to do stuff like this … I’m happy to take her down there …”

Then, my wife lands the killer blow:

“Look, I know she is a physically a big girl, and I know how difficult she is … but she’s still a child … our child, our girl … your’s … “

This floored me more than Steve Earle. And then lifted me even more.

Instead of

“hiding my heart in you

My old friend the blues”

I can hide my heart in the truth of my wise and caring wife, and the truth of the beauty and enigmatic character of my daughter K. Our special K.

I get up too and it’s like I am looking at a different girl: she is standing there in the sunny Sunday morning kitchen, make up-free and radiant, her lustrous hair up in a simple ponytail, and looking the part in her grey Coca-Cola T-shirt and gym pants.

She is calm and she is happy. Not the surly girl of too many recent encounters. And I at least part of the reason for that. Surly Dad creates Surly Daughter, who feeds Surly Dad who nurtures Surly Daughter, and on and on it goes …

Generation Snowflake? Why not Generation Brave but Slightly Misguided, or Generation Confused but Coping? On the right road but in need of gentle direction. Or at least the right gym.

A snowflake is a delicately intricate thing of mesmerising beauty and complexity. When you look at it properly. Not made with sunshine in mind, and so we have to mind it. Or come up with a better metaphor.

I don’t know if what I feel is the saddest sweetness or the sweetest sadness. But it sure feels good to feel hopeful.

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48 comments on “Handle her with care

  1. Just beautiful Enda! I loved so much of this but especially: ‘As is my wont, my little local tale of a noisy unthinking teenager has grown bigger and bigger in my head until she is the lead character in yet another epic tale of Ungrateful Generation Snowflake and the Bastardry of Modern Parenting.’ as it encapsulates me so perfectly. I also love how you so eloquently find something lovely in both your wife and your daughter. #lgrtStumble

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Superb, as always, Enda. A nice little life lesson in finding the positives in a situation, as they almost always outweigh the negatives. And kudos for relating a song from one of the best ever debut albums to your story. Not to mention the passing Travelling Wilburys reference in the title 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Daydreamer mum

    I am a big fan of your blog but this is just bloody beautiful!!! My eldest was working 7-3 shifts last week,so that second the bedroom door clicked at 5am I was awake , laid listening to the banging and clattering half annoyed he wasn’t considering the brother who shares his room and the rest of us but half just amazingly proud he got up and organised and ready for his day without nagging. Bloody parenting!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amazing isn’t it .. so capable and so ####ing inconsiderate. I’m a fan of your blog too .. great minds or fools … bloody parenting is right!!!

      Like

      • Daydreamer mum

        Yeah….it’s like come on ….you’re almost there ….now just remember other people live here???

        Liked by 1 person

  4. A wonderful post Enda. Perhaps there should be a méme. Behind ever surly teen is an even surlier Dad.
    In my house though the teen is nocturnal and keeps his door banging, fridge opening dish banging until those hours when his sister is finally asleep and I am trying to get mine!

    #LGRTstumble

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Alan … our girl is actually a night owl too and the banging usually takes place then … that’s another thing that made her being up and at it on the Sunday morning so unusual!!! And why the missus was quicker than me to see it as a positive. New play: The Importance of Being Surly

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a super post, I loved reading it. I’m sure as parents we all have our moment of impatience but however old our children are, they’re still our babies 🙂 #TriumphantTales

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely! I’m a much older “snowflake” but proud to be! And I loved your description of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. adashofoliveoil

    Love it. MAGGIE

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think I would have told her to walk! I get wound up by people driving to the gym! But I agree that they will always be that little newborn that you would do anything for. I think it gets harder to show love as they get more grown up as you don’t want to embarrass them so small things like a lift say a lot. Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

    • All things considered giving her a lift said a lot … her brother is always getting lifts to training and matches, as she sees it, so …. Thanks for commenting

      Like

  9. Love this post. Reminds me so much of the Tubblet 🙂 And I can’t stop singing Copperhead Road which the same album IIRC. (Can’t be bothered to look it up and the CD is downstairs)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not hugely knowledgable re Mr Earle, but Copperhead Road another album. Guitar Town his first, I think Thanks for your lovely comment

      Like

  10. Mac Glanville

    So easy to see my teen in these words, the morning smoothie, hearing her get up and stomp down the stairs. I could not agree more with your words of how when we are grumpy they are and so on. They are so precious, growing up yet still a child, fresh faced. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing this with #ablogginggoodtime

    Liked by 1 person

  11. emptynestmummy

    What a beautiful post! And I love that Calm Mummy settled down Surly (Hungover) Dad, and thus order was restored to the world. Aren’t Calm Mummies great? #thatfridaylinky

    Liked by 1 person

  12. diynige

    Love this post. Reminds so much of my older children and I have it all come again with the twins fab read Thank you for linking to #Thatfridaylinky please come back next week

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This is beautiful. Thank you. I needed to read this today.
    Thanks for linking up to the #dreamteam

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Ah, so kind. Thank you! I needed to hear that too!

    Like

  15. I love everything about this post. Such a beautiful piece of writing. Thanks so much for sharing with #TriumphantTales, hope to see you again on Tuesday.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I very much loved this post! Loved, loved, LOVED it! Your wife sounds like a gem and so wonderful she’s able to pick up on your weak spots of parenting, as I’m sure you do hers. I remember being a teen who blissfully stomped around in the morning driving my father nuts as my mother requested I make waffles (my father’s absolute favorite). I realize now she was the bridge between the two alike creatures she lived with! #BlogCrush

    Liked by 1 person

    • How lovely of you to say such nice things. A writing compliment from someone as talented as yourself means a lot. Yes my wife is a gem! And how astute you are in observing, as my wife often does, how alike K and I actually are, and jow this is at least partly a root of the sparks that fly between Dad and daughter

      Liked by 2 people

  17. Aaw, this is beautiful! Really sweet, with so much love in your words. Thank you for a great little read! #ablogginggoodtime

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I felt as though I was there with you on this one! Every single noise and cereal bowl clank. All so very true and indicative of these little ladies. And of course, the ride to the gym. The gym in itself is a triumph. I always say there are those that go and those that don’t. Some kids (mine included) seem to take exercise quite lightly. The sheer mention of the gym would certainly have me up and out of bed and ready to deliver to the doorstep. But why can’t they walk! Lovely piece and thanks for sharing with us at #tweensteensbeyond

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Nicky. Thanks for commenting. Ultimately it’s good she is going as exercise is something she rarely gets. Even if she gets a lift! And thanks for your kind words

      Like

  19. Alice Letters to my Daughter

    I’ve been pondering the power of perspective a lot of late, it’s amazing how powerful it can be. Someone recently said they left a note for themselves after setting their alarm for a painfully early start, to “flip the conversation”. So in the morning, he saw the note and instead of being grumpy at the early hour, he was grateful to wake up and grateful that he had the privilege to go abroad for work (hence the early start). I think it gets easier with practice to see the positives first, but a well placed post it can do wonders to get you started 🙂 #BlogCrush

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right … often, if we can catch ourselves in time, and count to, at least three, then we can change the conversation around and pick out the positives rather than harping on the obvious negatives. And avoid a spirit-crushing argument!! Win, win. Thanks so much for your for your very wise commen

      Like

  20. Oh Enda I had a similar moment with my 16 year old this week. She had got up and made herself a cheese salad bagel to take to school and rushed out of the house leaving chaos strewn over the worktops for me to clear up. As I was clearing it away I thought of all the FB posts I’ve read about how we are spoiling the next generation by clearing away after them and thought maybe I was being a doormat Mum. Then I thought 1.) She’s up and got herself ready for school with no nagging or cajoling from me, 2.) She’s made herself an extraordinarily healthy meal which has not only saved me money on school dinners but which provided her with her 5 a day 3.) She has prepared aforementioned meal HERSELF 4.) She has left the house with a big smile on her face leaving me devoid of worry about how she is doing and able to get on with my day 5.) She is in the middle of A levels and quite frankly has far less time for kitchen chores than me right now. So…yes I will continue to clear up after her and if that makes me a producer of a snowflake generation – so be it. I really don’t care! Thanks so much for sharing your fab post with us at #TweensTeensBeyond

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah definitely it’s good, for whatever reason, to pause sometimes before we routinely nag them for what they do wrong, and forget to catch them DOING THINGS RIGHT. This time my wife saved me from getting it wrong – again. Thanks so much for your comment and kind words Sharon

      Like

  21. This is brilliant! #globalblogging xo

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Back for another read (and a tear or two) from #LGRTstumble xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  23. The journey towards independence still requires a bit of help from mum and dad! My youngest has just returned from a Geography field trip and complained that I had forgotten to pack her sun cream which is why she came back looking like a tomato with a carrot top (the Irish genes of her father!). I found it in the bottom of her bag which I couldn’t bring myself to remind her she had actually packed herself in her quest for doing it herself. Initiative is good and should be celebrated. Your daughter is half way there by the sound of it. #TweensTeensBeyond

    Like

    • I can so identify with that vignette: we get blamed if we are too “mother-hen”, checking on them all the time, or if we are too “hands-off” and therefore not interested enough in what they are dojng! It’s such a difficult time for them, caught between wanting to leave childhood behind and the magnitude of all that leaving childhood behind entails. Thanks for commenting,

      Like

  24. Gosh, this resonates with me, so much. My tween is in this stage too. I think I will have to share this with my other half, so he can read it. Beautifully written!
    #tweensteensbeyond

    Liked by 1 person

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