Confession Time


The call slithers towards me down the long corridor between where I sit and my daughter’s bedroom. It starts quietly, softly, a nighttime whisper hissed from the shadows of the retreating day.

Before I can respond, it comes again.  “Mooommmmmmm…” A little louder this time.

I have just, not more than ten minutes ago, tucked my 12 year-old Little Miss in for the night and retreated to the sanctity of our living room. Enveloped by the golden hues of the streetlamp just outside our window, I’m ready to relax, a good book held in one hand, a soothing cup of Zen herbal tea in the other, and the companionable silence of my husband working on his lap top beside me while our two cats sleep the deep, deep sleep of lazy felines. Ah, the end of a long day.

But I know this call. I’ve heard it before. In the quiet, lonely darkness of her room her mind races. The challenges of twelve-year-old-life loom large when illuminated by moonlight and Little Miss needs to talk. It is confession time.

Words tumble blindly from her lips as I walk through her bedroom door. “Mom? Remember last night when I was with my friends?” Her voice is tense, her speech quickened, and I can hear that tears are ever-so precariously held at bay.

With a tightening in my chest and my stomach performing acrobatics I ask, “What about last night?” Do I really want to know?

Yes, I do. Instinctively I reach for the warm, soft cheek that I cannot see but know by touch. My daughter’s cheek; the cheek I have brushed a thousand times; the single, solitary touch, long established between us, that communicates everything: Mommy’s here; it’s going to be all right; tell me what you need.

“We sent a text.”

And so it starts. Oh, the joy of parenting adolescents in the age of technology. Woe is me. But I am ripped from my momentary pity-party when she continues, rapid fire: “Well I didn’t, but the other two girls did. I didn’t think it was very nice and I told them that, but they did it anyway!”

The whole story, abridged version: Little Miss and two of her friends were hanging out at a multi-family get-together. While all of the parents visited out on the deck, three of the girls were up in a bedroom text messaging back and forth with another friend who was not in attendance. When the absent girl decided it was time to sign-off, the two girls with Little Miss got offended, sent a mildly nasty, highly profane message and then laughed about it. Little Miss, who insisted at the time that she did not want to be part of this, was, and obviously still is, mortified. She knows what mean girls are. She has seen them in action, has been on the receiving end of their antics, and is passionate to a fault about being nice. Guilt is an emotion she cannot stomach.

My first reaction? Kudos to her for knowing her values and our family standards of kindness, and for being true to them. And, if I may wax gangsta’ for just a moment, Mad Props to her for talking to me about it. But this situation raises so many aggravating, gut-wrenching, brain-confounding issues for me as the parent of a soon-to-be teenaged-girl, I would really just like to SCREAM!

First, Damn you blasted text messaging! (Picture my fist pumping the air for dramatic effect.) Our parents did not have to put up with this crap. And along with texting, I lump in Facebook (forgive me), MySpace, Instant Messaging and to a certain extent, email, just for good measure. Damn the whole lot of you!

Second, is it enough for my Little Miss to just say, “I don’t want to be involved”? When is it time to walk away? What else should she or could she have done? What if it was worse than just a nasty text message? Then where would we be?

Third, and this is an important one, she told me this story in confidence. Her motivation was not to get her friends in trouble but to find a way to feel better about the whole ordeal. Do I betray her confidence and tell the other parents? Would she ever confide in me again? Is one nasty text really that big of a deal? Are these mean-girls-in-the-making, or is this just stupid kid stuff? On the other hand, if it were my kid, wouldn’t I want to know?

And finally, (and please forgive me if I sound like Miss-Goody-Two-Shoes here, but it won’t be the first time, nor the last), but isn’t it just unkind to be texting as a group a girl who wasn’t invited to the party? Even if the message wasn’t nasty at all, isn’t that just a little too much like rubbing salt into the wound?

And so, in hushed, quiet voices, long after her bedtime has passed and my moment of blissful reverie is forgotten, we talked and talked and talked. All of my questions were asked but not necessarily answered, and all of her remorse was expressed but not necessarily assuaged. She is twelve. The situations she needs to talk through are just going to get harder. Oh, so much harder. And so I will cherish these long, snaking calls of “Moooommmm” from down the hallway for as long as she cares to make them. At least, for now, I’ll know what sins there are to confess.


Are there any moms out there with raising-a-teenaged-girl angst? I’d like to know. Share your stories and submit your comments.

5 Responses to “Confession Time”

  1. Wow that is so great that your daughter wants to share that with you. Yay for nice kids!

  2. Can’t really share a story because of one of the most important parts of your post: earning & deserving your child’s (teen’s) trust. What is critical in the long term relationship with our kids as they enter the murky waters of teenagehood is that our teens know they can speak to us – not always, not about everything, you don’t need to be their BFF – about the things that matter to them, and that when they do, that we will make space for them as you did here, and that we will not violate the terms of that space by betraying their trust.

    Nicely done – your post & your Mamaing.

    • Hi Earnest Girl,

      Thanks for checking in and for leaving your kind and thoughtful words. You are right: our goal as mothers is to be good mothers, not good friends, and sometimes that is a fine line to walk. As long as we can maintain trust and open lines of communication, we are on the right track!

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