10 things to NOT say to your 13-year-old daughter in public

A One Minute Word (OMW)

I am not squeamish, and I am not a prude. And I sometimes over-share. Just ask my children, who correctly maintain that I am not to be trusted with information that I might consider worthy of discussion and of interesting contemplation. I have been removed from more WhatsApp Groups than I care to acknowledge, and my wife has forbidden the children from forwarding me messages in case I use them for nefarious purposes.

The list of people who don’t speak to me over an article that I might have written (or not written) grows daily and I often have to really strain to recall why it would be that I would be persona non grata amongst a particular cohort.

On my daily morning show on ChaiFM, I have a slot called the One Minute Word. The idea is to give people 60 seconds to convey a message. Mmusi Maimane, leader of the DA, Rev Kenneth Meshoe, leader of the ACDP, South Africa’s Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein have been a few recent contributors. And now my 13-year old daughter Abby has been added to that list. I blame my producer for not telling me and for the conspiring to shame me as it did.

I had no idea this was coming until it was way too late. Abby, it turned out, used the 60 seconds allocated to her to compile of list of ten things that I should never say to my daughter in public. You can listen to it below:

Here are a few items that stood out for me;

  • Never again should I say that “We don’t do cleavage in this family!” In my defence, I only said that once. It was the Jewish fast day of Yom Kippur and I was not myself. I was standing outside the synagogue talking to some friends and nursing a caffeine withdrawal headache from hell when Abby walked up to me to say hello. Clearly, she had left the house unsupervised and her dress was, to say the least, a little low in the front. The look she gave me after the words escaped from my mouth, and as my friends melted away in haste was not one that could have been misinterpreted. Mom was going to hear about this. And it was not going to be pretty.
  • I apparently also should not have told her “If anyone ever kidnapped you, they would probably bring you back.” Yes Abby, I am aware that that’s not how it works. But I was trying to lessen your anxiety about walking home alone. That makes me a good parent, not a bad one. I think. Truth be told, there is an element of responsibility that I would feel for the unwitting kidnappers. I would want them to know that we tried to raise you to be a bit gentler, and they shouldn’t judge us on your attitude alone. They would see that if they rather kidnapped one of your brothers.
  • According to Abby I am not a body language expert and should not go around saying that I am. Turns out, according to my daughter, I am not “famous” either (not that I am in the habit of telling anyone that). She obviously wanted to nip that little notion in the bud before it gets out of hand. The fact that I run classes on body language and the power of perception, have been asked for commentary on been on local and international TV and radio simply does not impress her. And it’s best that I know that. Well, now I do.
  • I should also never comment on things I know nothing about. Once, she claimed, I said that “Tinder is the new Facebook.” To be fair, I don’t even recall saying that but it does sound like something that I would say. And that I would contemplate. Going to leave that one up in the social media air. Let’s see how that pans out.
  • A big rule, according to my 13 year-old daughter is that I should not cough uncontrollably when telling her she has adorned herself with too much perfume. But I am asthmatic dammit. I have a doctor’s note to prove it. I have Ventolin sprays in my gym bag and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to not want to die at the hand of something made by Loreal. I just don’t. Especially because I have paid for it.

People often discuss what it takes to be a good parent. Ideas include all sorts of things that might or might not be valid. My view is that all you need to manage a 13-year old girl is a great sense of humour, nerves of steel and the self esteem of an Egyptian Prince. Anything else and honestly, you won’t last a day.