Teen hermit crab hooked on borrowed items

If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was losing my mind. But since I’ve already lost it or possibly had it stolen, I know that can’t be the true. What is documentable fact is that as the single parent of a teenage daughter I have been living around intensifying crazy-making.

My daughter has been especially challenging in recent months due to her habit of borrowing. I use the term “borrowing” loosely, as it implies initial permission to use something and its eventual return. From what I’ve observed, she has no intention of either.

Two different, full-sized, wooden wastebaskets have walked off from the basement and family rooms, respectively, and ended up in her room, where they keep company with the painted table swiped from the attic, along with a clock she also liberated. Holy hermit crabbery. It’s making me crabby.

I could write a book about the innumerable nail clippers and countless tweezers I’ve never had the opportunity to use before they mysteriously disappeared into the Bermuda Borrowing Triangle also known as my daughter. To ensure I had a brush to do my hair, I had to lash one onto the bathroom towel bar using a lanyard that hadn’t yet been borrowed. No kidding.

The smoothness of her moves brings to mind watching professional ice skaters performing an impressive feat called the triple-axel. When caught “borrowing,” my daughter has developed the verbal dexterity to perform its argumentative, hypocritical equivalent. If butt-covering were an Olympic sport, she’d capture the gold! I call her patented maneuver the “triple-standard,” which consists of a double-standard followed by a half-rotation of blame pointed in the direction of its victim.

“Mom, you have the crappiest make-up,” she recently complained. I found that an interesting comment, as my monitoring various product levels revealed they were going down at alarming rates. How clever to criticize the very thing one is pilfering – to divert suspicion from oneself!

To deter my daughter from my personal care products, I took her cosmetic shopping for her own. She surprised by asking for items identical to mine, albeit a lighter shade of foundation and brighter color of lipstick. Affordable, conservative choices. But more importantly, different from mine.

If you thought, like me, that purchasing my daughter her own cosmetics was a solution to the problem, you’d be wrong. She apparently regarded the acquisition not as a replacement for, but an enhancement to my make-up collection, which she’s continued to use regularly.

When I confronted her about getting into my stuff, she told me I was welcome to use hers. I replied I had no use for hers, but did have a vested interest in keeping her out of mine, as it is rarely put back where and in the same condition she found it.

Not only did she ignore my request to stay the heck out of my things, but she ceased trying to hide it. I started finding my foundation three rooms away from the bathroom, my loose powder in a laptop computer bag and my favorite lip crayon in the car door compartment. The already-challenging act of getting ready in the morning became a full-scale scavenger hunt.

Frustrating doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings regarding this kind of trespassing. And just when I didn’t think it could get worse, she took my make-up with her during a weekend at her dad’s house. When I, the victim of this property violation, discovered its absence and called to confront, my daughter’s response was classic: “You don’t even need make-up, Mom.” As if that statement, even if it were true, somehow justifies heisting my belongings. How silly of me to have had belongings in the first place! Why, I shouldn’t miss them at all!

Did you follow the flawlessness of that triple-standard maneuver? To summarize, first you criticize the victim’s choices; second you take advantage while they are caught off guard by the smokescreen of distracting comments; followed by third, you try to make them feel stupid and selfish for self-advocacy. Triple-standard perfectly executed.

Fortunately, life offers no long-term reward for hustling. You meet your cosmic and cosmetic comeuppance when you least expect it. At least, that’s what I hope will happen soon.

 

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