I am an older mother of teenage girls. That sentence alone could sprout all kinds of blog ideas. The fact that I am 52, (almost 53) and have a 13 year old and an 11 year old is an entire series of blogs.
Today I am focusing on my 13 year old. She has always been quirky and complicated. She has run my husband and myself ragged with her need for constant control. It has not been until recently that neither of us know which end is up with her. One day she is on the top of the world with her friends and her activities and the next she is sobbing uncontrollably because her pants don’t fit right and she does not want to go to school.
Puberty? Could be. But, having gone through her stubborn, manipulative and OCD type behavior her entire life, we don’t think so. She was in an alternative based middle school, which we thought would be great for her personality type. It was small and unstructured. That turned out to be a nightmare for all of us. Towards the end of her 6th grade year she became very anxious. She was not sleeping. She was crying all the time. We finally got her to admit that there was some bullying going on. We addressed this with the school, but that seemed to make things worse. We took her to the doctor, who diagnosed her with anxiety and referred her to a Counselor.
There was a little over a month of school remaining and working with the Counselor we decided that she should not finish out her 6th grade year at that school. Once that was an option, we saw a drastic improvement in her mood. We went and toured the regular middle school and she was excited to begin a new year there with some kids she knew from grade school and her younger sister would be there as well.
Summer came and the tears disappeared and she was starting to act like her normal self again. She was the pitcher on the softball league. She had friends that she was hanging out with on a regular basis. She was upbeat and pleasant and we thought that maybe we had figured out what the cause of the sudden change of behavior. The first 3 days of the new middle school could not have been better. She was happy and finding new friends and mastering changing classes. She loved softball practice after school.
Today she could not find any shorts to wear for her softball practice and that was all it took for her to become anxious and step out of class and call home for someone to come and pick her up. Through books on boundaries and talking with her Counselor, we have decided that we need to let her figure this out on her own. We will not pick her up from school when she says she is not feeling well. We will not go buy her more shorts because she does not like the ones she has to choose from. We will not let her moods govern the rest of us living in this house.
This brings me to my title. Is this all her need to be in control? Or is she truly experiencing some sort of anxiety attacks. Or both? Does she stress so much about her silly shorts that it brings on this major mood change? Or, are my husband and myself just finally realizing that we have catered to her quirky demands for so long, that she is using her tears and fake stomach aches to see if we will continue to give her, her way?
In my day, you wore what you had whether you liked it or not. You acted right in the presence of others, no matter how you were feeling. Unless you had a fever or were throwing up, you stayed at school. But, with the labels and medications that seem to be flying around, and notices sent home from school for identifying anxiety and depression in teens, could it be more than just an intense teenager who needs to be in control of every single thing?
Asking for help from modern-day parents or middle school teachers. Is old school not a good plan for teenagers any more? Help.