Other People's Children

I like to think my kids are good kids. I've raised them right, so far. For the most part, they are respectful, well mannered and good-natured. Of course, the moment I ask them to clean their bedrooms or change their brother's diaper they morph into three-horned demon children, but from all the parenting manuals I haven't read, I expect this is somewhat normal.

The problem with my children is they insist on surrounding themselves with other children. Other people's children. Children I have had no control or effect on how they were raised.

Life would be much easier if my children cloistered themselves within the hallowed halls of our own home and amused themselves with sticks and rocks. I've tried to convince them this is the best solution to survive these teenaged years but my children thus far are not convinced.

Because my children insist on being happy little social butterflies (like their father), flitting from one childhood friend to the next instead of being house-bound curmudgeons (like their mother), I seem to be spending an inordinate amount of time with the offspring of others.

For the most part, I enjoy this. Or rather, I used to. You see, Fric and Frac's friends and cousins used to adore me. Idolize me, you could even say. I was the cool parent, the hip young mom who had no problem getting down in the dirt to wrestle when needed and happily served ice cream for dinner.

Since I haven't changed, (I'm still cool and hip, and darnit, I feel young), it's gotta be the kids who are mutating.

The problem is these children, like my children, have hit puberty. Which means my children are surrounding themselves with a pack of feral, pimply, attitude-laden kids which society insists I'm not allowed to beat.

This is becoming problematic.

It's not so much Frac's friends, as they tend to be boys and boys, no matter the age, seem to be charmed by long blonde hair and big boobs. Frac's friends for the most part are good boys with laid-back attitudes who like to play outside and set things on fire shoot things wrestle in the dirt. These days, I find Frac's friends are still scared to look me in the eyes, mostly because I just caught them staring at my boobs.

If anything, Frac's friends are the only things keeping my self-esteem somewhat afloat as I hit my mid-thirties.

(Let's not analyze that last sentence too deeply shall we?)

But the girls my daughter, Fric, surrounds herself with are entirely different beasties now that they have all hit puberty and have morphed into a pack of menacing she-devils, intent on bringing my daughter down with them into their pits of pubescent hell. Meanwhile, my loving, snarkless daughter is contemplating giving me the finger and flinging herself down into the mud pits just to spite me.

Don't get me wrong; these teenaged girls are good girls. (I think.) It's hard to tell what with them being coated in enough war paint to make a two-bit hooker jealous and hiding their surly expressions behind hair that constantly hangs in their faces.

These girls are smart, athletic and they all have bright futures in front of them if they'd look up from their cell phones long enough to see it.

And I'm sure they are wonderful children when they are under the watchful eyes of their parents. Just as I'm sure my daughter is a perfect angel no matter where she is.

(Parental Delusions for the win!)

But the thing is, when I see these kids, they aren't around their parents. And they can be obnoxious, unpleasant and all around pains in the asses.

(For the record, I was never like that. Ask my mom. I was the perfect child. Dutiful, helpful, polite and I only ever spoke when spoken to. Heck, when I walked into a room, a ray of sunshine followed me wherever I went.)

Okay, okay, I had a smart mouth and a bad attitude at that age as well. But I like to think I at least hid my cheekiness a bit better from the adults around me and pretended to be respectful while thinking the grown ups around me were just a bunch of meatheads.

(If my mother could blog she'd likely tell you I was no better than the she-wolves my daughter hangs out with.)

Parenting a teenaged girl, for the most part by myself since Boo is away at work, is hard enough without having to deal with the combined snottiness of other people's children. These kids are smart. They know there is strength in numbers. They sense my weakness and my daughter has joined forces in driving me crazy.

The thing is, I can rectify my daughter's behaviour. I can send her to her room, take away her electronics, ground her till she's thirty or threaten to cut off her toilet paper supply.

But for some reason, other people won't let me have that same control over their children. They seem to think they are capable parents themselves and don't want my obnoxious interference thoughtful help.

Which is starting to stifle my reputation as the cool mom to be around because I'm transforming into a cranky bag who wants nothing to do with any teenaged girl other than the one the government insists I'm legally required to raise.

When a 14 year old rolls her eyes and talks to me like I'm stupid, I can't help myself. My first impulse isn't to ignore the bad behaviour. It's to call her out on the carpet. Or better yet, beat her. Preferably with a very large stick.

When a 14 year old dismisses me, talks down to me or tries to ignore me even though I'm standing directly in front of her, I kinda lose my mind. Seriously, it starts to seep out my ears.

Puberty stole the sweetness right out from these girls and replaced it with something rancid. And it's contagious, because the more my daughter is around these type of girls, the more she becomes like them.

I'm spending a lot of time re-rolling my daughter in sugar and quite frankly, who has time for that?

I'm trying to cut these girls a break, my daughter included, because I'm not hard-hearted. I remember what it was like to be that age and to be so very misunderstood. I don't want to be the enemy here.

But is it too much to ask for these girls to put their damn cell phones away for one minute when trying to have a conversation with them? Am I asking too much to see their eyes when I'm talking with them? I can live with the Tammy Faye make up jobs, and I'll happily accept the bad dye jobs and insane hairstyles these young whippersnappers are sporting nowadays. I just want to see their faces.

You know, to better see them roll their eyes at me.

I knew this parenting gig would take a turn for the worse eventually. It couldn't all be popsicles and belly laughs forever. I understood parenting teens would test my maternal skills and give me a run for my money.

I knew my kids would test boundaries and stretch to reach new limitations.

But I never anticipated how strong my desire would be to staple someone else's kid's eyelids shut as they drove me batty.