My Eldest is, for all generalized needs, a Pretty Nifty Person.
She, for example, is always willing to watch a set of Little Girls for me, or take them to the park to get them out of my hair for an hour or so if I’m inking illustrations. (This process tends to make me lean toward “losing my religion”, which is a great old saying for “choice utterances” that I really don’t like to let fly, ever, and certainly not in front of my kids. They have their father for that.)
She can clean any room of the house just as well as I can, and can actually start the lawn mower, too. Is it a really dreadful thing to confess that I have never, not in my entire mortal existence, mowed a lawn? Or started a lawn mower? (I have raked leaves.)
She’s very good about keeping loads of laundry cycling through when she’s across the room in the Craft Dungeon.
We watch really sappy movies together, and bawl our heads off. (Small Note to Self: do not watch Les Mis and then try to “cheer ourselves up” with UP, ever again. That just did not work well.)
She gripes about the inconsistencies in movie adaptations almost as much as her mother. We just have different stump topics, which is good, because the two of us on the same stump would likely cause some sort of sub-atomic conflict that would lead to the destruction of the known universe. It’s not guaranteed to be that dire, but it could be.
She can often be bribed to change a really gross diaper by the paltry sum of $1. (Her brother, however, is a bigger sucker for this, and works cheaper, so she’ll sometimes sub-contract and make 25c on the deal. She is clever, this young one.)
She will cheerfully pocket my debit card, hop on my (long dis-used) bike, and pedal two miles to the grocery store for vital things like “a nice tomato” or “some decent bread” or “More Milk Again Are You Kidding Me People?” (There are a few family members with a slight Milk Problem. I’m pointing hairy eyeballs at the menfolk here.)
She volunteers me to show stuff like How To Make Pizza Dough to her youth group, and doesn’t mind being seen in public with me.
She shares an affection for really wild knee-high socks with me. (Thus, we look highly decorative when out in public together.)
She’s a girl who asks questions, and isn’t always satisfied with the Easy Answers, so she keeps asking until she has the Real Answers. I love that she’s not lazy in her questioning of Life, the Universe, and Everything.
Also? She bakes. Quite divine cakes, actually.
She is capable, and strong, and 99% of the time, she’s a delightful person to be around. In the grand scheme of Mothering, I was blessed with an Eldest I could really enjoy, and connect with. I’m pretty much in awe of being allowed to mentor her in small ways, and teach her what I know.
However, recognizing that she’s growing older, and knowing that all girls reaching a certain age have certain… emotional needs… her father and I quietly discussed how we could best go about meeting them, whilst keeping our sanity.
That is how it came to be that she has the bathroom as her Eye-Rolling Amnesty Zone, to which she may retreat any time the ignoble strivings of her Idiot Parents get the better of her, and she just needs must roll her eyeballs around in their orbits.
Some days, I worry she might sprain something, all alone in there.
But she always feels better when she emerges, so I’d say it’s working on her end of things, and we’ve not felt the urge to smack her with sticks for being rude with the eye rolling, so it’s working for us.
I like my teenager, and I’m not afraid to admit that.
I’m also very grateful for the Eye-Rolling Amnesty Zone that is our absurdly tiny bathroom.