We’re wrapping up dinner when I make a relatively harmless remark my daughter doesn’t appreciate — full stop.
The mood around the whole of the kitchen table sours as her shoulders drop.
She then shoots me “you’re an asshole” eyes, puts her fork down with the aggression of a gauntlet being thrown, and stops eating.
It looks like she’s about to fling her chair back and flee the scene but I preemptively persuade her to stay. A small victory. That remains the full extent of the recovery as we complete the meal without further incident, albeit in near silence.
It’s unfair that a young woman is deemed a “moody tween” every time she is anything less than bubbly, light and pleasant company.
You might be inclined to think this is the natural behavior of a moody tween, a 12-year-old riding the seesaw of emotions. I do have a daughter in the so-called “moody tween” age group so you may very well be right, although it could have easily been my wife, my 8-year-old, or me with switched-up pronouns to throw you off the scent.
The point is that everyone is moody but tween and teen girls are the demographic most likely to get saddled with the “moody” label. They are forced to wear that ‘M’ like a scarlet letter by a society lacking both grayscale and, apparently, a mirror. It’s not only unfair that young women are deemed “moody” every time they are anything less than bubbly, light and pleasant company, it’s also sexist, ageist, and completely fucking stupid.
We humans are moody a bunch, each and every one of us. Some more so than others, yes, but it’s there inside us all as we experience sadness, melancholy, frustration, disappointment, hurt and, hopefully, some joy along the way. To be human is to experience a full range of moods from day to day, hour to hour, moment to moment depending on factors often out of our control.
Maybe the trigger that activates your moodiness is a dumb joke while polishing off a few limp, lukewarm string beans, or not. Doesn’t matter. You need to recognize that you also have moody spells and you’re a grown-ass adult with coping mechanisms (I see all of those coffee and wine memes you share) not a kid who’s growing, changing and navigating the confusing waters of adolescence.
If anyone is entitled to a pass when experiencing mood swings, it’s them not you.
A version of this first appeared on Out with the Kids.