This is a warning to the mothers of young children. People talk openly and frankly about the terrible twos. But no one is honest about the Terrible Twelves. I believe this is because older and wiser mothers want you to think that hard part of parenting is over at a young age so you hang in there. The alternative of you running, screaming down your driveway, passport in hand, is something they don’t want to be responsible for.
I, however, am here to tell you the truth. The absolute truth.
The Terrible Twelves are a horrible phase for any mother to experience. Oh, and Terrible Twelves is a misnomer since this phase usually lasts until age 15. I’m just calling is the Terrible Twelves so you won’t give up. Trust me, you will want to.
Let me start by explaining, in motherly terms, what is happening in the twelve-year old adolescent body. Hormones are running rampant. The body is jacked up on a cocktail of these hormones combined with the junk food kids seem to favor at this age. Hormones+sugar+salt+caffeine=disaster. There is an internal battle between young child and young adult, and it changes from day to day who is in charge of the pubescent body.
Remember when your kid was two and learned to say “no” and use it effectively? Imagine that cranked up a million times in a 12 year old body. Also add in the ability to argue. Oh, sure, they don’t argue effectively. But they can argue and they will. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t matter if you remain completely calm. It doesn’t matter if you agree with them. They will argue about everything.
For example, I used to say that Jermaine would argue with me about anything. If I said the sky was blue, he would spend precious time arguing that it was green. I could whip out my Pantone color book and show him the color of the sky and he would still argue–and provide visual aids as well–why I was wrong.
While your child might not argue about the same things, they will adopt a few of the same 12 year old tactics: eye rolling, speaking slowly (because you are mentally challenged), yelling (because l0uder makes them sound smarter), and a host of other gestures designed to demoralize and confuse you. Sometimes you will doubt your own sanity. Sometimes you will question your intelligence.
Go ahead and question yourself, but get right back in the saddle, because the war isn’t over. Understand that you really aren’t the stupid, moronic, imbecile your child is insinuating that you are. You are the sane one. Your pre-teen monster child is the villain in this game!
This is also the lying stage. Twelve year olds will lie about anything and everything. Do you see your child standing there, covered in chocolate, denying that he stole the last of your chocolate stash? That’s what I’m talking about. Even when confronted with evidence and stellar witnesses, the 12 year old will argue to the death about his innocence. Sometimes they even slip up and lie about good things. It’s a reflex at this age.
So what’s a mother to do? Because of space and time constraints, I haven’t been able to reveal everything you will experience when your child enters this psychotic child stage. Also, it varies slightly with individual children. But there are things you can do to survive this.
It’s easier said than done, but you must remain calm. That way when you finally lose it (and you will) they know that you mean business. Plus, you need to reserve your strength. Don’t give in too soon or you’ll just wear yourself out. You must realize that your calmness fuels their crazy-ness so you have something to laugh about later.
When you do break and lose it, do so loudly and wildly. Swinging arms, poking fingers, and red-faced screams will make you feel so much better. It won’t affect your child, except to reinforce the idea that you are a moron. But you deserve this release. Embrace it.
Find a sympathetic friend. You need someone you can vent to and receive validation from. It’s normalizing to find that other mothers and children are experiencing similar behavior.
Have an escape plan in place. Sure, you probably won’t use it, but have one just in case. With the twins I had mine mapped out to San Diego where my brothers live. With Aaron I think I’ll flee to England to be with my cousin Cindy. Where will you get financing? What will you take? Will you let them know you’re going or let them flop about a few days until they realize it on their own? Once you realize how exhausting it is to plan your escape, you will give up and just take to your bed. That’s cheaper and easier. I always got hung up on who would pay the bills and care for the animals.
Tell yourself that this will pass. This is harder with the first one, because you will be convinced your child is demon spawn and you got a really really bad one. But there is an end. At that exit from demon-hood, your child will emerge as a raw version of their soon-to-be-adult self. You will have decent conversations again. You will laugh with each other. You will say a prayer of thanksgiving.
I know there is so much more to share, but I have to go see what Aaron’s up to. He’ll be terrorizing the twins soon and I hope there’s no blood today…
I’d love to hear your Terrible Twelves Survival Tips!