One of the benefits of being the parent of a teenage daughter is that you never run out of topics to argue over. This keeps the air nice and tense, the vocal chords perpetually warmed up and the white hair coming. Issues with ulcers may also flare up, but I’ll keep that to the privacy of the closed bathroom door.
A sense of humor is indispensible to surviving this stage of your child’s life.
Remember, this is the child [most of you] chose to have.
Hell, if you are like me, you planned it, right down to the romantic lovemaking by the fireplace.
So don’t go telling me you want to give her up now. You asked for her, you got her.
Plus, you know you’re going to be a bundle of nerves when she leaves for college, which isn’t so far away now. You know this. She reminds you constantly:
“Mom, what are you going to do when I go to college?”
I’m gonna blast “Born In The USA” without anyone rolling their eyes at me?
I’m gonna watch E! and follow it up with The Insider because I can, because I do wanna know who wore it the best and why Michelle Obama has had enough?
I’m going to do a heck of a lot less laundry?
She’s not waiting for those answers. She’s waiting for the true response. The one that I avoid. The thought that when my daughter will be gone, in three and a half short years, it’s going to be awfully quiet and argument-free around here.
I’m not really sure what I’ll do with a war-free zone.
As I said, everything is up for grabs right now, now that we are in the thick of it. My trench is dug deep and I try to make every effort to stay tucked in there, head down while the bullets fly over.
Today the artillery of choice is football.
Not fútbol, football.
Fútbol, I can grasp. Growing up in Venezuela, my ears rung with accolades for the soccer greats, Pelé and, the more colorful, Maradona. Sure, Venezuela is a country that favors baseball over all other sports, but still, it has always been equally infected with the South American passion for fútbol, and hearing the sportscasters battle over the loudest and longest goal announcement during the World Cup was always a source of amazement and joy.
But their impressive lung capacity amounted to yet another colorful anecdote I’d tell once I moved to the States as an adult.
Football, I got nothing on.
No understanding, no interest, no desire.
The few times I’ve tried to watch a game, I get restless and frustrated and distracted.
“Why are they stopping every two seconds?” I’ll demand to the poor sucker who is trying to convert me to the sport. “Where’s the double scissor? Where’s the hip fake? Why aren’t there any Chilenas?”
Remember now, this is way before Beckham came to the U.S. to spread the soccer love.
The poor sucker trying to educate me on the wonders of football is usually my husband. Which explains why he hides out a lot in the tiny room off of the garage. The one with a TV and a small fridge stocked with beer.
“Are we going to watch the Super Bowl this weekend?” my daughter, the General, attacks.
Don’t let this innocent question fool you, this is an attack.
“Hmmm?” I say, drawing out the m. I’m not an imbecile, I am strategically stalling. I’m sure it is in all the military handbooks.
“The. Super. Bowl. This. Week. End. We’re watching it, right?” She asks, with a triple serving of eye rolling.
I’m at a crossroads here. A delicate moment. I know, good God I know, that my teenage daughter, who has never watched an entire football game in her life and has no friend, brother, or boyfriend connected to football, has absolutely no interest in watching the Super Bowl this weekend. I’d go so far as to say that she’d most likely get restless, frustrated, and distracted sooner than I would.
I’m sure there is something more fast-paced to Tweet, Snapchat, or Instagram.
But she stands there defiantly; head cocked up, and takes a step closer to me, waiting.
“Hmmm, well…I hadn’t really…ummm…your father is out of town this weekend…so…I…just..ahhhhh.”
I talk like this on purpose, you see. All discombobulated. Helpless. Distraught.
It’s giving her an imminent sense of victory, this confused, flustered mother she has to contend with. Between you and me, it’s really my Trojan horse.
My daughter is a bit thrown off now.
She loves a good battle with her mother (what teen doesn’t?) but it is no fun for her when her mother doesn’t battle back. And on such an obvious topic! Mom hates football! This was supposed to be a no-brainer!
She gives me a few more seconds to gather up my motherness and start my rant:
Absolutely not! I won’t stand it! I can’t bear to see these guys pile up on top of each other! And for what? A bunch of undocumented head injuries that catch up to these poor fellows twenty years later? My goodness there are better things to do! Read some Proust! Make your bed! Figure out why the left light bulb in the bathroom won’t stop blinking!
She waits. She is an extremely impulsive girl, but, for this, she has the patience of a Siberian tiger waiting quietly to pounce on its prey.
I give her my most overwhelmed look.
My daughter has a heart of gold.
Did I mention that?
Did I tell you how she baked cupcakes and sold them on the street corner when she was a wee bitty kindergartener? She made a whopping $75 and turned around and gave it all to the Red Cross to help the people of Indonesia after the devastation the tsunami brought. And now? Now that she is a hormonal teenager with the required list of teenage drama, did I tell you she still pays close attention to others, making beautiful video collages of family members for their birthdays, picking out the most personalized and thoughtful gifts for friends and teachers, calling her grandparents overseas just to say hello?
She is a treasure, this obnoxious, battle-hungry teenage daughter of mine.
So when she sees me stumble, she can’t help herself, she helps me up.
“It’s okay, Mom. We don’t have to see the whole game. Maybe just the commercials? They’re supposed to be the best part.”
I want to hug her in that second. I want to hold her and count all ten fingers and toes, like I did that fateful day I was blessed with her almost fifteen years ago. But she is so big now! Bigger than me! And every day she reminds me she will soon be gone.
So I do the second best thing. I climb out of my trench and join forces with her, because two generals are better than one.
“How ‘bout I fix up some wings, we plop down in front of the television, and see how it goes?”
She smiles and I’m not sure if it’s because we will see the game after all or because I’ve thrown food into the mix.
“Okay, mom. But I get to blast the volume and put the couch where I want it, right up close to the screen.”
I could fight that, I could. Remember, you never run out of topics to argue with a teenager daughter: it’s bad for your eyes, we don’t move the furniture around, nothing is going to get blasted.
But I’m calculating something I thought I’d never find myself calculating before: we only have four more Superbowls to argue over before she leaves home.
Christ, you’ve been so good, what with the steamed tofu, the insurmountable amount of roughage and no bread! No bread!!! Congrats on all that, really. But ditch it for now. If people judge, tisk, mumble, “those extra pounds are never going to lose themselves,” go ahead and tell them: “The chicken wings made me do it.” And then give them one of these. They’ll understand.
- 3 lbs. frozen chicken wings
- 2 teaspoons cumin powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup distilled white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- I usually decide what I am going to eat three minutes before I want to eat it. With this dish, it’s better, not critical, but better, if you have a bit of foresight and let it sit in the fridge overnight. If you don’t, the world will still rotate on its axis and Senators will still get caught saying stupid things when they don’t think anyone’s watching.
- In a bowl, toss the wings with cumin, curry and salt. Let sit. Preferably overnight (in the fridge.)
- Preheat oven to 400° F
- Place wings on an oiled baking sheet (or better, place a strip of aluminum paper on the baking sheet and grease that.)
- Bake for 10 minutes.(Note:If you didn’t do the overnight thing and have frozen wings, bake for 15)
- Turn the wings around and drizzle with ¼ cup vinegar.
- Bake 10 minutes (15 for frozen)
- Flip wings again. Combine remaining ¼ vinegar with Worcestershire sauce and drizzle over wings.
- Bake an additional 3-5 minutes.
Note: Things may get smoky, alarms might go off. This is a perfect opportunity to get a little workout in! Do jumping jacks with the kitchen towel near that damn smoke detector. It’ll all be worth it in the end, and plus, with a good cardio in, there’s less guilt about the 3 lbs. of wings you are about to inhale.