The ups and downs of parenting a tween in Chicago

We need a mood swing set at our house for both me and my tween

I knew well before my daughter hit tweenhood that middle school students are a bundle of emotions.

I always thought the descriptor of them as “hormones with feet” was spot on, and I’ve always believed that middle school teachers are saints.

Like with most things in parenting, I thought I was prepared, and I was really, really, REALLY wrong about that fact.

Okay, maybe not three really’s. I was fully prepared to establish a mood swing set in my backyard. What I was unprepared for was the fact that I would be the one doing the swinging.

Parenting my tween daughter results in me feeling proud, angry, confused, sympathetic, amused, annoyed, unappreciated, happy and at least a few other emotions. These can all be felt often in one day, and, at times, in one hour.

I’m pretty certain that my mood swings are not the result of hormones but more the effect of the emotional roller coaster of parenting a tween. The fact that this child has known me for more than a decade and knows just how to push my buttons doesn’t hurt.

That in-between status is tough. I get that it is hard on kids, but it is also hard on the grown-ups surrounding them. They can act like they’re 2 or 22, and you never know who is walking through the door.

In addition, I fully recognize and remember from my own experience that navigating middle school is tough.

Whatever sympathy those social hardships elicit, however, evaporate pretty quickly when I trip over the backpack she’s left on the floor. The very same backpack I asked her to put elsewhere at least twice.

I know I should calmly remove the backpack and let her suffer the consequences as I carry on in a zen manner.

The experts who advise such rational reactions are clearly not as prone to yelling obscenities as I am, especially when falling on my face in my kitchen. There may also be yelling with a toe stub. While that’s not as justified, well, it happens.

Then my tween has the audacity to go and do some charming. Or sweet. Or adorable, even. The nerve! Doesn’t she know that the emotional shift that requires is tough

Apparently not.

So, I’ll work on being the one who stays even keeled around here, but that will be a whole lot easier to do if there are fewer obstacles on the floor. I can navigate the emotional obstacle course much better when I’m not dealing with a physical one as well.

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