It was a bad idea, and I knew it. My attempts to convince my teenage daughter of it seemed to have no effect. Our conversation quickly turned angry. She was using her teenager’s frustrated voice and I was using my mommy’s authoritative voice. I told her I thought it was a bad idea and she said she knew it was a bad idea. I asked, “If you know it’s a bad idea, why do you want to spend good money to buy it?” Her answer was simple: because she wanted it. It was pretty. Further arguing prompted, and I am not lying or otherwise making this up, “I KNOW, Mom — I know EVERYTHING!”
The issue at hand was whether or not to purchase, from eBay no less, a flimsy and whimsical polka-dotted, rabbit-eared case for her very expensive touch-screen phone. Granted, she purchased the phone with earnings from her part-time job. And she was also promising to reimburse me the $4.99 plus shipping for this atrocity she so desperately wanted. But the Otterbox she’s using (on loan from her sister until she can buy one herself) is highly protective of the large purchase, and practical, albeit plain, while the flimsy baby blue polka-dotted bunny is neither protective nor practical. It’s only benefit is its apparent beauty. I thought I was seeing reason. My daughter just saw red. And this is the argument that led us to screaming at each other.
“So, you want me to buy the pretty case off eBay so you can do what exactly? Set it on your dresser and admire it occasionally? Because it will do no good whatsoever….”
I was interrupted from my reasonableness.
“Gawd, Mom! Just BUY it; I’ll pay you BACK! It’s MY money; I should be able to do whatever I WANT with it!”
I’m reminded of how often I, having once been a teenager myself, thought I actually knew everything. I’m comparing that internally with how often I actually did. I’m definitely coming up short. But how many times did I actually come right out and tell my grandmother, “I KNOW, Mamaw! I know EVERYTHING!”
You know, regardless of how many times I may have thought it, I never once said it out loud.
Upon her bold utterance, my daughter wheeled around and left the room. Half-way up the stairs, I heard a muted “Whatever!” I imagined she was about to use her expensive new phone to send an outrageous text to one of her friends with all sorts of accusatory remarks about her hateful mother.
Now the argument I’m having, as I sit here alone, is with myself. It is her money. She should be able to do whatever she wants with it. Almost. I do believe I should, as any good parent would, monitor her purchases and make sure they’re not harmful. In that regard, the pretty little case is not harmful – as long as it sits on her dresser to be admired occasionally. But if she actually puts it on her phone, and then drops the phone and it breaks…
Some of you may say, “Well, it is her money; and it is her phone that was likewise purchased with her money.”
I was thinking that way, too, until it occurred to me that if she did drop the phone, and it broke, she’d probably be looking to Mom for a bailout. At that point, would I be afforded the rightful opportunity to refuse? Maybe I would say, “See! I told you! I know EVERYTHING!”