My oldest daughter had to fight for everything: getting to see a PG-13 movie before she was thirteen, going to the mall alone with friends, getting a Facebook account. My youngest daughter gets to reap the benefits of the battles her sister fought.
Beth Falkenstein: Just last week, as I was shopping with her for back-to-school items, I found myself suggesting she consider some eye shadow in the Urban Decay section of Sephora. She's starting 6th grade this fall. I didn't even wait for the battle; I was surrendering before it began.
It's not that I'm negligent -- although there may be an element of combat fatigue somewhere in here -- it's that I've learned that some of my greatest concerns as a first-time mother were a lot of wasted energy. When my oldest daughter finally got to wear eyeliner, I found that it did not make her also want to smoke, swear, and hang out with sailors. (Besides, after about a week, she got tired of having to wash it off and stopped wearing it for a couple more years.) And when I caved in and bought her the indulgent cell phone she had been begging for, I justified my weakness to myself by saying it was only so I could reach her at school in case I needed to. Imagine my surprise upon realizing that I could now reach her at school when I needed to!
Furthermore, I discovered that there can be strength found in throwing in the towel. For example, saying yes to watching "Degrassi" at twelve gives you a little more bargaining power to say no to "True Blood" at thirteen.
So now my youngest already gets to wear makeup, video chat, and drink Starbucks. So far she has continued to get good grades, do her chores, and has not ended up in juvie. There is just one, teensy-weensy drawback:
Her older sister is royally pissed off.
|Beth Falkenstein was a sitcom writer and freelance contributor to "Self," "Redbook," and "YM" magazines before taking a full time job in her kitchen. She loves her new bosses (ages 13 and 10), and is grateful that they approve of inter-office romance, because Beth thinks her co-worker (Jim, age 45) is really hot.|