Why Do They Have to Change?

“Miss Susan, don’t you just love cleaning up?  I could work and work and work all day!” five-year-old C. said to me.  She was so cheery, I expected her to break out whistling like one of the Seven Dwarfs.  I was hanging out with my two pint-sized buds while their mother took their baby brother to do errands.  The girls’ room was a disaster after they had emptied every drawer onto the floor.  The older one, C., asked me if I would help her put everything back in order.

They start out so sweet, don't they?

“I love helping Mommy,” C. said.  “When she comes home and sees how clean our room is, she will be very happy.  I like to make my mom happy.  Did you like to do that when you were a little girl?”

I thought back to earlier in the morning when I chatted on the phone with my daughter.  My thirteen-year-old granddaughter had just been grounded for the weekend and would miss the end-of-the-year school party at a friend’s house.  My daughter told me, “She said she didn’t care.  She didn’t want to go to that party anyway.” Hmmm…don’t think my granddaughter cared a hoot about making her mom happy.  And I know for a fact that she doesn’t like to work and work and work all day.  She doesn’t like to work for five minutes!

Does someone up there just pull a switch when kids reach a certain age?  Where does the manual say that when a child approaches teenager status, she turns from an agreeable bundle of sweetness to a snarly, pouty, mouthy young adult?  In fact, where is that manual anyway?  I think some enterprising parent should keep notes as the kids are growing up and write down all the scenarios that could arise and the best ways to handle each.  It wouldn’t help that parent, of course, but think of the bucks young parents just starting out would pay for a foretaste of what’s to come.  I’d do it myself, but I’m still trying to black out some of those moments.

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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14 Responses to Why Do They Have to Change?

  1. Erika Simone says:

    My parents might leave a different comment here, 🙂 but I don´t believe I ever “flipped the switch”. Ok, maybe in my 13th year I wasn´t always fun to have around. But all throught my teenage years my best friends were my parents (though, somehow they managed to keep their authority clear even as they listened to my problems). I just thought you might find the teen´s point of view interesting. I´ve always been proud to introduce my friends to my parents, we never had fights (though I KNOW there were times when I did my chores in a mighty grumpy manner!) and I still confide in my parents.

  2. huffygirl says:

    I’m enjoying my three-year old granddaughter so much – not looking forward to the day the switch flips and she changes too. Last visit we had fun climbing rocks, flipping our sunglasses up and down and playing hide and seek. Why do they have to change (just like our own kids did)?

    • comingeast says:

      I have a friend who has a daughter who is married now, but they never went through a rough period. I know that’s unusual, but there are kids our there that don’t flip that terrible switch. Plus, I think it’s different between grandmothers and granddaughters. My 13-year-old granddaughter can be such a pill to her mother, but we still hang pretty tight.

  3. Olga SE says:

    I prefer to hope that my three-year-old daughter will remain as hard-working and thoughtful as she is now and will always love to make her mother happy. 🙂

  4. I would have paid for that manual! Thanks for your comment today. I don’t want to wish away these years but sometimes I wish they didn’t last so darn long.

    – Emily

    • comingeast says:

      Oh, my darling daughter. I am not minimizing how hard it is. On the contrary! Wonder what wonders the Hare will bring! By the way, take a look at the comment Margie (gogreygirl) made on this subject. I like her idea!

  5. Margie says:

    When I realized that grounding for a fixed time didn’t really work for our family, I switched to grounding until a particular task was done. (Trying to teach the lesson that each action has a consequence.) That year the groundee painted the fence and most of the outside of the house before she decided that the actions that got her grounded weren’t worth the consequences.

    • comingeast says:

      Wow! I love that idea! I will pass that along to my daughter. You’re so right; if you ground the child, they can just sit and pout and lose a privilege until the time is up, but they don’t have to do anything.

  6. Julia says:

    It’s so true that teen brains, and consequently behavior and thought processes, are different! I read recently that teen brains function completely differently and that they still develop into the 20s…. I first read about it last year in Parade mag, and amazingly this morning I could find the link:

    http://www.parade.com/news/2010/11/28-inside-the-teenage-brain.html

    I wonder if the mom of those sweet little girls (or your daughter) would want to be prepared…. not sure if a manual (or this info) really helps or is just another point of understanding like it was for me.

    • comingeast says:

      I was just kidding about the manual. I don’t think anyone can be truly “prepared” because all kids are different (though they have many things in common!) and families are different. I knew about the brain studies because we made sure our teachers were aware of them to help them be better teachers. I’m going to visit that site, though. Thanks for the link and the comment, Julia.

  7. I have several friends who had teens now. Whenever I dare whine about some of my kid’s behavior, they always laugh and say ominously, “Just you wait until they’re teens.” Gives me the shivers! I guess it’s payback for my teen years?

    • comingeast says:

      You mean you reap what you sow! I miss living close to my children, but I don’t think I have the energy to deal with teenagers anymore. But I did when I was going through it, so I guess we’re given the strength to deal with them when we need it. There were many, many wonderful times when they were teens, though, so don’t fret. It’s all worth it!

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