For instance, at 14, I was pretty low maintenance when it came to personal stuff. Nail salons didn't really exist in England back then; if you wanted eyebrows to look OK, you plucked them; legs got shaved, not waxed, and I didn't enter a hair salon until, I guess 17, which is also the time I got contact lenses.
It's all a little different now. When Fiona announced at age 12 that she needed (not wanted, needed) her eyebrows waxed, my own eyebrows raised so high they almost left my head. Contact lenses arrived at 13, as did the refusal to have her hair cut at any of those places you can just walk in for a trim for ten bucks. Thankfully she's pretty self-sufficient with her nails, and she does shave her legs, but only because the thought of waxing them is just too painful (which is completely true.)
Where I'm truly surprised is the whole personal hygiene thing. I heard all the stories about teenage girls being in the bathroom for hours, doing their hair and make-up and agonizing about what clothes to wear. What I didn't expect was a girl who still has to be badgered into taking a shower, who wears a dab of makeup, but nothing to write home about, (and who looks completely stunning without it,) and who gravitates to her regular daily "uniform" of skinny jeans, Converse, tank tops and T-shirts. She has one bra that is the only one she will wear, even though she has several, and I have to literally pry it from her hands to throw it in the washing machine whenever I can. Same with the clothes that she wears again and again, that I have to steal away to wash when she's not looking.
I'm sure high school will bring more changes, but anyone who has a teenage girl knows how different they are from boys. And a heck of a lot more expensive too. I look around at friends with boys and, yes, they have to buy clothes, get haircuts and go to orthodontist appointments, but the ongoing maintenance expenses just aren't there. Here's what parents of girls pay for that doesn't even register to parents of boys, starting from the top of the head. Haircuts at salons - with washing, tinting/color and copious amounts of blow drying, eyebrow waxing, makeup, face cream, bras, manicures, tampons, pads, razors and shaving cream for legs, (yes, I'm aware that boys start shaving their faces at some stage,) and pedicures.
Add all that up over the course of a year, and it comes to a lot. And the icing on the cake is that it all comes with a hefty dose of teenage girl attitude. You know exactly what I mean if you're the Mom of one. Dads get off a little easier, but being the mother of a teenage girl means donning a bullet proof vest each day to soak up the impact of the zingers, the eye rolling, the being embarrassing just by being alive, and the insults that are designed specifically for each of us. Girls instinctively know what's going to hurt the most.
For example, a friend of mine who also has a 14-year old, said that her daughter once threw at her that the only reason she still lived at home is that she knew she'd inherit all the money when her mother died. Ouch. Fiona knows that this one would never work on me, since I have no money, and would just laugh. Her weapon of choice therefore, is one she knows will pierce my heart. "You need to get a real job! All you ever do is give up jobs! And this book you're doing? It's not exactly The Twilight Saga. No one will read it!" Ouch, ouch and ouch again. What was that old saying about sticks and stones? Boys use the sticks and the stones. Girls use words, and I tell you, they can hurt.
Still, what goes around comes around, right? I was pretty horrible to my mother when I was 14, and if she was still alive I'm sure she'd be nodding her head right now, only too willing to give me some choice examples.
This too will pass... but at least Fiona's eyebrows look great.