Thursday, 6 November 2008

The Generation Gap Part 1

These were written when daughter was about 16 and I felt about 127, and were published as part of a series of articles under the title 'The generation gap', in a woman's magazine.

Letters from the trenches
The mother's view
A battle is being waged in our house. Quite separate from the everyday rucks and mauls, this is a war of subtlety where the main tactic is Wearing Down the Resistance.

The first blow was struck a couple of years ago although at that stage I didn't realise it was a war. Anna wanted to have her ears pierced. I held out until I felt she was old enough to make such a decision and then quite happily accompanied her to the shop. In fact, I went one step further and had my own ears pierced as well!

So that was that I thought. But I hadn't taken fashion into account. Next it was "Mum, can I have another earring in the top of my ear." "No definitely not."

I honestly can't remember agreeing to it or even when it happened. It must have been battle fatigue numbing the brain. Suffice it to say, Anna now has a second earring in one ear - not that you can see it under her hair anyway.

So one boundary has been exceeded and a new one created.

"Can I have my nose pierced?" "Absolutely and positively NO!" The trouble is, I can't really think of a good reason why not. I only have the parent's favourite "Because I say so" to fall back on. Which brings me to today’s dilemma — to bleach or not to bleach? Anna has dark brown hair which she would love to transform to white. My gut reaction is that “It’ll ruin your hair and it will all fall out.” Of course, as I have no actual scientific backing I have to do a lot of waffling. I suspect a compromise is around the corner and that we will allow her to bleach some streaks before she sets off for Greenbelt otherwise I fear what she might take it into her head to do while there.

But now, of course, the cracks in Mum's armour have shown. It has been proved that I am quite likely to crumble under pressure. I've always tried to be consistent. If I said no I meant no.
Surely I'm not so weak that I can be bullied by my children not to mention the dog...or the cat?
Ah well, if all else fails, I'll have to call in the big guns...."Michael".

The daughter's view

And so began the Bleach War.

Battles such as this, with my parents as the opposition, in the past have had a 50/50 success rate to either side. Admittedly, the Ear War in 93 (I wanted the top of one ear pierced) resulted in me being grounded when I won - they denied everything. That was my one proud win.
However, in 1995, the tables turned and I lost (for now). I am not having my nose pierced on the grounds of “I say so”; or at least not til I’m 18. I think they’re hoping that I’m going to turn into a boring sensible person overnight on my 18th. But you see it’s become principle now. Even if I do change my mind about having my nose pierced (and I haven’t yet) clearly, they’ve left me with no choice.

And now we’re into a new one. War III, thus smashing all world records. The chances on either side are equal....

The only reason I’m struggling on is that my parents have agreed to allow me to bleach streaks in my hair. What I’m hoping for is to bleach all of it. But I wouldn’t leave it white; that would look horrible. I want to dye it pink on top, so it comes out really bright. I’m going to a music festival, Greenbelt, and I need to be outrageous for it. It’ll be worth my hair falling out! (Which, by the way is my parents’ sole argument. My hair will fall out if I bleach it. Yeah.... right. Personally I think they’ll just be too embarrassed to have a daughter with pink hair). I’ve found the dye and rung the hairdressers about the bleaching - there’s only one problem to overcome.

The Other Side.

I tried the Mature Persuasive tactic, the calm, reasonable argument.

I used the Other Parents tactic (other-people-let-their-children-be-responsible-for-their-own-hair ).

I even resorted to the sulky “I’m doing it anyway” tactic, and the “what will you do if I do it?” and even foot-stamping in order to get my way. All plans to stay calm have flown the nest by this stage, and all the early childhood methods have come back into play. You see I’m very organised really. If all else fails, cry.


Winnie the poohi said...

oh wow!!

I love it!

Anonymous said...

:0) really enjoyed reading that

leslie said...

*grinning broadly*

I remember when my older daughter was only 12, she wanted to lighten her blonde hair. Of COURSE I said, NO!"

But then one day, I looked at her and said, "You DID it anyway, DIDN'T YOU?"

She went ahead and did it on her own!

Thank goodness her hair didn't fall out. lol

Then there was the nose ring....


smilimano said...

wow! :) enyoyed reading! :)

Palm Springs Savant said...

how fantastic that you have this, you are an excellent writer Liz

Always smiling said...


Thank goodness my daughter did everything she did when she had left home!
As for my step daughters I am so much older and the world has changed so much I helped one to dye her hair and screamed with delight when I saw her nose stud, 'I want one,' I said!!
Thanks visiting my blog and our marrow was a marrow!! We stir fried all our courgettes, ' The we is royal as my dh loves to cook and stir fries are his forte!


my daughter's only 6 - now i know what i will have to go through!

david mcmahon said...

There were only boys in my family for three generations!

However, Liz, these are just ``discussions'', not wars!!

Sandi McBride said...

And now am even more thankful that I reared only boys...that was hard enough...girls are crazy, lol...thanks for the insight!
congrats on Post of the Day from David!

Anonymous said...

And on and on it goes. there is truly nothing new is there? I rebelled, my daughter rebelled and now she is going through the same thing with her daughter. It does all end up well, honestly, if you can just stop her doing anything too way out then you'll be laughing in twenty years when she has the same problems.

Hilary said...

Ahh daughters! Makes me glad I have sons. One of which pushed those boundariess all the time.

The way I see it if it's a temporary situation, as hair-dyeing is (it'll grow out probably long after she's sick of it), or of minor scarring (ear, nose, bellybutton piercings) then let them learn that their must-haves are boring after a short while. If they're passionate about it and are happy with those decisions, they perhaps they're more settled in their tastes than we give them credit for. Either way it's a win for both.

I'd put my foot down at larger, permanently-scarring things such as tattoos and riskier piercings. I honestly think thirty isn't even settled enough to make that lifelong decision (tattoos), but it's their own mistake to make once they're legal. Good luck!

I'm here from David's - congrats on POTD. :)

CrazyCath said...

Omygosh! I am glad I have boys now. Brilliant post. I'm over from David's at authorblog. Congrats on POTD.

cheshire wife said...

Congratulations on your POTD. I think that my mother got off lightly with me. I had a brace on my teeth and that was enough metal. No need for piercings.

Femin Susan said...

Your blog is sparkling. It has a great appeal. How where to able to cope such a lot and it is too good for words. Great blog....

Louise said...

God help me with the two girls that are coming up in my house!

Hilarious (in a scary sort of way) post! Well done!

Over from Authorblog.

Deborah Gamble said...

Here from David's site. When D1 was 9 I told her she was too young to tweeze her blonde eyebrows. So she shaved them off. Completely!!

Leslie: said...

Congratulations on making David's POTD!!! Very worthy!

blogthatmama said...

Hi Liz

Thanks for the visit to mine, I'm in the exhausting process of generation wars now, wears you out, doesn't it!

Eki Akhwan said...

an interesting read that makes me reflect on mine. i enjoyed reading it.


PS. Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog.