Posted by: laughs4dads | September 29, 2010

Mothers and Daughters and the Art of Warfare

I wonder if any laboratory conducting research into psychological warfare has studied the unique chemistry between a mother and daughter. I am referring, of course, to the same sort of chemistry that causes that interesting effect when you drop Mentos into Diet Coke.

You’ve seen the videos on YouTube, right? The Diet Coke spouts up into a messy, bubbly stream of stickiness, kind of like the geysers at Yellowstone National Park, only with caramel food coloring.

Put a mother and a teenaged daughter in the same room and before long they’ll both be covered with psychological soda.

It’s as if they’re both one of those vending machines stocked with snack foods. Mom wants the Mounds. Daughter wants the Doritos. They both start pushing buttons. “E14,” mom says. “G10,” daughter shouts back. Oh, they know which buttons to push all right. But the Mounds and the Doritos are going to get stuck, and they’re not going to come out before there’s a lot of kicking and screaming.

There are a number of actions a father can take when such an event occurs, and they all involve being far, far away from said event. There is absolutely nothing a dad can do or say to diffuse the situation. He is the United Nations standing between Israel and Iran. In other words, he is utterly powerless.

The problem is that father will try to arrive at a rational solution. The combatants have long ago forgotten what exactly the problem is, so there can be no solution. And, in any case, rationality was never going to be a factor.

There is no logic when a mother and daughter are going at it. There are only insults and accusations, foot stamping and door slamming. If father is in the vicinity, he will only end up smiling, because the whole thing is so obviously stupid. When he does, both Israel and Iran will nuke him. Then the two nations will march off together, hand in hand, to watch reruns of Gilmore Girls.

Because there’s only one thing mother and daughter can agree on: that dad is completely clueless.

There’s another reason that you, as a father, cannot become involved. If you stay anywhere near the conflict (and by that I mean in the same state), you will become a courier.

“Please tell your daughter that she’s getting a little heavy,” your wife will instruct you. The teen is your daughter now; mom has disavowed any shared DNA.

“Tell mom I hate her,” will be your directive from daughter. “I can’t believe we’re even related. I can’t wait until I go to college!” (This, by the way, when she’s thirteen.)

You, of course, cannot deliver these communications, because you know what happens to the messenger.

So you take the dog for a walk and wait for it to blow over. It had better be a long walk, because you’ve got a long wait.

The truth is, it never stops. Our daughter is 24 now, and she and Barbara can still get a good one going from time to time. It’s a little more subtle now, a bit more strategic, because they’ve got more experience. For instance, “I hate you” becomes “Ohmigod, I’m turning into you.” The result, though, is the same: they both end up in a huff.

I just try not to become collateral damage.

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