Friday, April 14, 2023

Five on Friday: Pro-Tips for Connecting with Tweens

Our twelve-year-old daughter asked if we might be able to have a little girls' trip over spring break with our best friends, like we did last year. I considered it but since I've been feeling the need to try to get some quality time with the baby of the family, I decided it would just be the two of us. We'd drive her brother five hours back to college and then spend two nights together. 

I was pretty sure she would hate this idea. So I lined up all sorts of carrots to dangle: we'd get a hotel with a pool! We could get her nails done (something she's begged me for but I've never agreed to). I wouldn't even make her go to a museum!

When I told her I wanted just the two of us to get away together, she said, "Okay." This stopped me dead in my tracks, I was ready to start dangling those carrots.  So even though I didn't have to, I couldn't help but add, "We can get a hotel with a pool!" (well, I wanted one of those anyway). 

She nodded.

Her agreeability was really throwing me off. Here she was, ready to go and for some reason I couldn't shut up. "You can pick things to do, whatever you want!"

Again, she nodded.

"And go out to restaurants!"

She mulled it over. "Could I . . . get my nails done?"


"And get sushi?"

"Whatever you want."

"Boba tea?"

"Yup. And I won't even make you go to any museums."

Then came the biggest surprise of all . . . she said, "We could go to one as long as it's good."

Our trip got off to a great start. I adequately spoiled her with Starbucks, a manicure and letting her eat sushi in bed while watching a police drama on television. She was pleased. 

I didn't make her go into the history museum near our hotel but I did tell her we'd be visiting the conservatory in the morning. This is where my luck began to run out . . . a bunch of gardens did not count as "good" in her book. Naturally after getting her everything she wanted for two days, she started acting like a real pill about it. 

After several attempts, I managed to get my girl back on track, salvage our trip and hopefully connect a bit with my tween. Here's what I tried (and how well each worked or didn't):

1. Pointed out in advance how much she was being spoiled and how this one thing was for me and that she might enjoy it. (DID NOT WORK)

2. Reminded her as we entered that I knew the conservatory wasn't her top choice but that didn't mean she had to make us both miserable. (DID NOT WORK)

3. Tried  to make corny jokes about the plant names ("Hey, don't tease this one for not having any flowers yet. It's a sensitive plant.")  (WENT ABOUT AS WELL AS YOU'D EXPECT IT TO)

"Do you think he looks like that because the naked baby's constantly blowing the horn in his face?" (EYE ROLL)
4. Caught her trying to stealthily take pictures of pretty flowers so then I started trying to take my own not-so-stealthy pics. 
Two can play at that game, Missy.

(ACTUALLY WENT BETTER THAN I EXPECTED IT TO: She allowed one selfie with the two of us, that she took at a weird angle and quickly before anyone could see us being so embarrassing.)

5. When walking in the tropical fruit and spice room, she declared it smelled like a fart and "No, Mom, seriously, how do you not smell it?" I told her to just go walk ahead of me and sit down somewhere because I was enjoying myself and we didn't need to stick together. "What if I get lost? Or kidnapped?"

I looked my giant baby in the eye (no, really, I can look her right in the eye now without squatting at all) and deadpanned, "Who would want to kidnap you?"

Now this was risky . . . but it made her laugh. So even though the room allegedly smelled like farts, she stuck with me until the end.