We had a recent dinner-table exchange that was, I hope, very instructive for those who needed it and thought might be very helpful for those who are raising teenage daughters but have never been one.
It started just before dinner, when our youngest daughter (13 and in 8th grade) posted on FaceBook “like this if you want me to wear a cape to school tomorrow.” When her older sisters (Senior, almost 18, and Junior, 16) saw this, they began firing off comments that amounted tried to not-so-gently pursuade the youngest that this would amount to social suicide, regardless of how many “likes” she got. Middlest daughter even went into youngest daughter’s room while she was at the computer and hid the offending cape (a cheap Halloween hangover of purple with black and silver spiderwebs–not even a really cool cape*, in the eyes of the sibs). Now, I don’t generally side with the room invader, but in this instance, when no one looked, I sort of giggled.
At the table, Oldest daughter, said something akin to “if you wear that cape, you will become weird-cape-girl. Donny Wilson (name changed to protect the fact that I can’t remember the name of the kid) danced weird at the 8th grade formal and he is still known as Donny who danced weird. Seriously, you don’t want to do this.”
The conversation went on in this light for a while, older sisters giving younger sister some hard-learned and strongly-worded advice. Most of which came down to “seriously, you don’t want to do this.”
And then their father chimed in with: “What’s going on?”
“Youngest one,” I said, “posted ‘like this if you want me to wear a cape to school’ on her FaceBook and her sisters are …” and my sentence was drowned out by:
“You are not wearing a cape to school.” And then, with the method that never works and yet for which he has become known, he stated the same thing, shaking his head, about three or four more times. We all watched him. I was looking right at him with eyes wide, doing with my eyeballs what I could not do with my hands for fear the girls would see me, which was giving him the “stop talking NOW” look (which is when I dart my eyeballs sideways very quickly in an effort to not do the slashing the throat with the hand move that most people take as a queue to “stop talking NOW). But he didn’t. Stop talking, I mean.
And then he took a breath and popped a potatoe in his mouth and oldest daughter looked at him, then at me, then back at him with a smile and said “Jeesh, if you say it one more time, I’M going to wear the cape to school.”
Lesson learned? Probably not, but it was rather funny to see him get it in a way I’ve never been able to impress upon him.
By the way, she decided, after careful deliberation, to NOT wear the cape. “Maybe closer to Halloween.”
*Lest you think we are an “anti-cape” family, I’ll assure you there was much discussion at the table about what would be a cool cape to wear and what would just be pathetic. We talked about how their blankies would still make great super-hero capes, but they all decided against that, as well.
In all seriousness, the issue raised my eyebrows and concern more because she has had some issues of unwanted attention lately that I cautioned against amplifying with the cape-wearing. We’re monitoring this as closely as we can, at this point, as we all know how dangerous unwanted attention at this stage of the game can be.