We’ll Take What We Can Get

posted by Momo Fali on October 10, 2011

I talk a lot about my son here, mostly because he does the crazy stuff in the family, but lest you forget, I also have a daughter. As a matter of fact, this place is named after her.

Let me start by saying that I’m really proud of my first-born who will be turning…gulp…13 in a couple of months. She is an amazing student, keeps her room clean and I never have to tell her to do her homework, study or read. She serves at church, does volunteer work and likes to help around the house (if she’s getting paid for it, anyway).

But, over the last year…whoa. Something has snapped in her personality and, though I had heard rumors about this stage, I can’t say I was prepared for it.  Now she is short with us, she knows more than we do and I won’t even mention how she treats her little brother. Her usual stance is defensive, with one hip jutting to the side, arms crossed over her chest and eyes ready to roll. And, boy can she roll ’em.

I began to feel that all hope was lost when my son, who was recuperating from pneumonia, started to complain about how tired he was. We were driving home from, nearly, three hours of watching 7th grade volleyball when he said, “I’m so sleepy. My eyelids feel heavy.”

And, whereas a few years ago, my daughter would have said, “Aw, it’s okay buddy. Just close your eyes” (and it’s possible she may have sang him a song) she instead yelled at him and said, “WELL, THEN SHUT THEM!” See? Sweet as pie, that girl. There was no compassion, no appreciation for the fact that he had sat in the stands with his fingers crossed for her every time she served the volleyball.

I wanted my daughter back, because this Cybil in the back seat was not my kid.

I wondered if part of this was my fault. Was I, unknowingly, tossing fuel on the fire? Was she angry because her brother is different? Could this all be caused by hormones? Is it what she’s eating? Maybe she’s not getting enough sleep. Should I take her phone away? Keep her home from the dance this weekend? How could this be fixed?

But, it turned out that my worrying was for naught. My sweet girl is, actually, still in there; because when our family got some bad news…when we found out that my mother-in-law has cancer…my daughter gave her dad a big hug and sincerely apologized for being a crabby mean girl.

When it really mattered, she cared.

And, for a 12 year old, I guess that’s pretty good.


  • Paige from Ohio

    OMG…….you are describing my 13(just turned) year old to a tee!! Cybil is right!!! I am still stewing over our wake up session this morning. What a crab!! How can you have attitude at 6:45am in the morning!!!???
    Well maybe it would help if she went to bed in stead of deciding to straighten her hair at 10:00 at night since she has to be up around 5:30am!!
    Thanks for your post and for letting me vent. It made me laugh and feel a little better knowing that someone else is experiencing what I am.
    Have a great one!

    • Paige from Ohio

      Now that I have recovered from yesterday’s wake up session…….I wanted to say I am truly sorry about your news. I will be praying for all. I personally understand this difficult time in your family. I had lost my father to cancer when I was 23(over 20 years ago). On a good note I have also dealt with several cancer survivors in my family. Please take care and know I am thinking of you and your family.

    • Momo Fali

      In your 13 year old’s defense, even my 40 year old husband has an attitude at 6:45am. 😉

  • WebSavvyMom

    –>I think about my 12-year old self and still think I owe my parents an apology. Damn hormones!

  • SurprisedMom

    She is a sweet girl, but you’ll see more sass than sweetness during the next few years as she develops into an individual trying to find herself, rather than mom’s and dad’s little girl. It’s truly an amazing, wonderful, frustrating and aggravating process to watch as a parent. I know. I’ve been there . . .twice. I always tell my girls that I didn’t have to start covering the gray until they were in their teens. 🙂

  • Monica

    First, I’m so sorry to hear about you MIL. I will be sending prayers in the direction of your family.

    Second, OMG. My son just turned 13, and a few months ago we started noticing the shift. He is such a great kid, except when he is — apparently — in the grips of a hormone surge, during which time he is beyond unpleasant. At those moments, I want my son back too. It’s an eye-opener, isn’t it??

    Hang in there!

  • Zak

    I also owe my parents an apology, I was a wretched teenager.

    Also, I’m sorry to hear about your MIL’s diagnosis.

    • Momo Fali

      Thank you, Zakary. We are hopeful.

  • tela

    I don’t remember being a horrible teenager, but I do remember my parents calling me a horrible teenager. I’m sure I was.

    That said, even though this was about your daughter, the thing I took away was that your son crossed his fingers every time she served the ball? Are you kidding? That.is.adorbs.

    In other news, I’m thinking about your family and your MIL. I pretty much hate cancer. Also, I’m wondering if they have hormone replacement therapy for teenagers…

  • Colleen

    Having lost both my parents to cancer in the last 9 months, I am sorry to hear about your mother-in-law’s diagnosis. I pray that she is one of the many many many people who battle and CONQUOR this disease. Be there to be her advocate. Speak up if something doesn’t feel right.

    As for your daughter…it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Our eldest is almost 20 and we are just now feeling like we can say we may possibly survive her teen years. As for advice? Liquor. Particularly during year 15 and 16. That’s all I’ve got.

  • meleah rebeccah

    Oh yes, they change into monsters they day after they turn 13. My son only “cares” when it really matters too. And I guess that’s better than nothing.

    I’m SO sorry to hear about your Mother In Law. My thought and prayers to you and your family.

    • Momo Fali

      Thanks, hon.

  • Alexandra

    Yes, we had a day like that here, yesterday.

    My normally sweat 14 yr old just went nuts with rudeness and name calling.

    Trying to remember that he is a teen and we have a SAFE HOUSE, as in: he can express himself but apologies are expected.

    VERY unlike my childhood home, where fear ruled it, with a side of intimidation.

    So, I tell myself: he feels safe blowing a gasket here.

    Good thing, I guess.

  • Alexandra

    ooops..should say “sweet”


  • Melisa

    She was sweet the entire weekend she was in Chicago. Just sayin. 🙂

  • Liz

    Like, Melisa said, it’s how she is with “other” people that matters. Hang in there!

    • Melisa

      Can I “like” this comment? haha

  • BusyDad

    Fury is 9 and the transformation has already begun in earnest. When he was 5, the random sarcastic comment was greeted with laughter (and a blog post!). Now? I count the days before we will get into a bonafide fist fight. And like you, when I think the world is ending, he shines a little light into it. The other day, when I picked him up from after school care, he had in his hand a Brobee (Yo Gabba Gabba) doll that he had saved his school bucks for to win at an auction for his baby sister. He’ll grow up to be a jerk, but a lovable one.

  • Shea

    Wait, this is supposed to happen around age 13? So all of you are saying technically that my seven year old twins are six years ahead of schedule!? The hand-on-hip-foot-tapping-eye-roll is something I should be seeing later on?

    I do have to admit that they have their momement of tenderness like everyone else’s kiddos. Those are the moments when I feel like there will be hope at the end of the long, dark, haunting tunnel otherwise known as puberty.

    **Sorry to hear about your MIL. Positive thoughts to you and your family.

  • Tom

    My prayers are with you and your family for your MIL.

    But… teenagers. Worse: Teenage GIRLS.

    You poor, poor, poor, poor, poor lady.

    Lately, in the house of Michael, I have come millimeters from wringing one particular sister’s neck on a daily basis. I knew it would be bad… but there is no preparation for the ferocity that is a 16-year-old with self-imposed angst.

    My advice? keep your bar well stocked until the storm passes.

  • millicent frick

    so sorry about your MIL 🙁 Glad to know your girl is still in there!

  • Stormy

    I’ve been a reader for a while but never a commenter. My mother used to refer to the teen-young adult time as “the stupids” and that you have to get through the stupids to learn how to be a kind and compassionate member of society. Actually, I think the stupids hit a lot later than early teens…….I also think a lot of the commercials on today show obnoxious teens which doesn’t help matters. One particular pudding one makes me bonkers. In reading all about your family, your kids are awesome! and you will survive this! and prayers and health to your MIL! and all of you as you go through this process!

  • AlisonH

    Oh honey, I’m so sorry about your mother-in-law! Mine is in the final stages of it–30 years after the initial round, and after four rounds of it coming and going. Hang in there. (And she just turned 80, after all these years of fighting it off. Go Mom!)

    This stage of motherhood is where you learn how the patience and wisdom that people ascribe to getting older; it’s not the age, though, it’s the experience. Any time you can turn aside a growl with a chuckle, everybody wins. Hang in there! (Said the woman who had four teenagers at once, ten years ago.)

  • DeAnn

    Too funny! I have boys instead of girls but I can relate! Thanks for the laugh this afternoon. 🙂

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