Friday, October 17, 2008

Being Fair to the Spare

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored with High School!" I'm your host, Frazzled Annie. So glad you could join me today.

It's tough to be a Spare, I think. Those of you who grew up with older brothers and sisters (Heirs) will probably bear me out on this. But my daughter The Spare has it tougher than most. Her older sister was a shy, anxious wallflower who obsessively did her homework, helped with the housework, hugged me all the time, and brought home report cards chock a block with A's.

To make matters worse, I was the older sister in my childhood too.

So it's really hard for me to deal with The Spare, a social butterfly who hates homework and lives to AIM, who steals my makeup and silk scarves and jewelry and doesn't return them. Who snaps back when I scold her and pushes back when I prod her. In other words, the normal kid.

I don't quite know what to do. So far The Spare has laid off sex, drugs, and booze. She's a good, pro-union Democrat. A terrific actress and comedian, pretty as a movie star. And I know that we love each other ... it's just hard to know how much prodding and pressing and pleading is enough, and how much is too much.

If your grown children have become rocket scientists or otherwise can pay their own way in the world, your advice would be greatly valuable to me.

If you too were a younger sibling, your advice would be greatly valuable to me.

If you know of the best bored Goddess to take these matters to, please share her! Your advice would be greatly valuable to me.

If you are satisfied with Republican politics, keep your damn advice to yourself. It will fall on deaf ears.


Anonymous said...

Ask Mrs. Palin, the new representative of American values, which now include premarital sex without protection, quiting high school to get a job and support a surprise baby, and hunting witches from airplanes.

Anonymous said...

As a social failure, strict Republican and the youngest of two, I would like you to know... Wait, that didn't sound right...

Really though, I am the youngest of two and my teenagehood sounds remarkably similar to the Spare (at least, with the Heir's music taste.) Unfortunately I grew up to run away from home at 18 for a boy I met online and then moved to the USA (dumped the guy btw, he proved idiotic) to work nightshift at Walmart.

Wow, now I do sound like a failure! LOL! I did pick myself back up though and moved again (to the other side of the USA) and married a guy (also met online) and we have a son. I am a stay-at-home mom but I also have a craft business. It is not a rocket scientist but it makes me happy, which I think all we can hope for our children.

Now where did things go wrong? My parents, wanting the very best for me (after all my brother was in Manchester Law School) tried to form (pressured?) me into being someone I could not be. Eventually I snapped and left home.

So my advice, let her follow her own interests and be supportive of them. Make her do her homework of course, but let he choose her own way as far as her future goes. Support holds up a home, pressure crushes it.

Just my 2 cents though!

Nettle said...

My sister and I have about the same age gap as the Heir and the Spare. I was the younger one, but I was the booky introvert with odd tastes while my sister was the cute blonde with a social life.

What bothered me the most was when people would treat me like a younger version of my sister - as though there was no point in getting to know me since I was whoever she had been a few years before. Since we were (and are) wildly different people with almost nothing in common, this often left me feeling invisible and unappreciated. It was also a source of disappointment to those who expected me to be like her, which left nobody very happy and resentment all around.

So my advice is to remember that whatever you learned from guiding the Heir through teenagerdom is useless when dealing with the Spare. She's a completely different person and this is all new territory and any comparisons with her big sister are useless.

I suspect that you've already figured this out (my respect for your parenting skills is boundless - you have two nice kids! they're teenagers, yet they're nice people! I didn't even know that was possible!) but it's what I remember the most about being part of this particular dynamic.

Lavanah said...

Anne, your family set up sounds very much like mine (except I think that my girls are 2 years older than than your two.) And, yes, they are really really different from each other. The first year that the older one was away at college was very difficult, here at home. But you know what? Younger daughter and I (eventually) figured it all out. It took a while, but now we get along perfectly well (well, for mother and 17year old daughter...). You and the Spare will figure it out, too.

Terra said...

I also have two daughters, now 22 and 19. My sun and my moon. Ms. 22 was tidy, straight A's, teacher's pet, just graduated from CSU and turned out just fine. Ms. 19 was sloppy, forgetful, prone to daydreaming and caused at least one teacher to burst into tears. She somehow managed to get herself a scholarship to Berkeley, and is also turning out just fine.

Love them, teach them, talk to them, let them be who they are and trust that their lives will unfold as they are meant to. And let them know that you are always there to help them when the unfolding gets tough.

Anonymous said...

Actually my eldest sounds like the spare and my youngest is like the heir. Not sure how I pulled that one off ...

If you figure it out though let me know cause most days I walk around pulling out hair and muttering ot myself.

yellowdog granny said...

I had 2 boys 18 months apart then when they were 7-6 I had the the time she came along I had the rules down, and i was the sherrif/alpha person in the house. she came along and kicked all the rules out the door and made her's been bumpy and at times it was a me or her life...but she's 35, lives and works in san francisco, and is fairly normal..sorta..
you have to judge her on her own...not compare, that's the best i can do...good luck it don't get any easier..

Pom said...

Your Spare and my Mini-Me sound incredibly similar (though Mini-Me is NOT looking forward to 'Twilight' the movie as it's based on "a tiny insignificant" part of the book - no matter how "hot" the lead actor is supposed to be).

All I can say is that you're not alone. The one advantage to growing older is realizing how little one knows (they call that wisdom) - the disadvantage is living with a teen girl who knows EVERYTHING (I think in my case it's called revenge for grandparents)!

I bounce between wanting to hold on tightly and giving her a swirly!