She's sixteen and she thinks I don't understand her ... and sometimes I think she may be right about that. My girl, most like me, without the wild streak which propelled me towards audacious acts of stupidity. At her age I was spending quite a bit of my time figuring out how to not get caught ... or what to say if I did. And then my best friend, my older brother, died and I stopped.
On facebook my high school buds have started a remember when page. Mostly sweet, sorta outrageous ... everyone is playing nice, our kids are watching. It's surreal to see these lives again ... thirty to forty years later. I'm surprised that we could find so much thin ice to skate on in that blazin' hot South Texas heat. I am surprised at how few fell through the cracks. My girl, all five of my kids, are so much better on every perceivable scale then I was. I tell them they are next-gen technology ... smarter, stronger, faster, braver, prettier, nicer ... all the ers, better in every way. And they have to be, everything is harder now then it was back then ... everybody is more saturated by more temptations ... more pressure ... more crap. The seductive ride on a downward spiral keeps on getting tighter and tighter and one slippery mis-step seems almost beyond recovery. Seems like there is no room for the goofiness that I ran with.
This is what I understand: at some point the apron strings have to be cut. A mother can cut those anytime she wishes to. My parenting style doesn't come with sharp objects. I don't cut anything. I believe those strings are best cut by the child ... when they are ready ... and that is usually around 16. It hurts. I know that. The relationship is changing. It's harder for this one then it was for her older siblings because she knows we are very much alike. She thinks she is rejecting me ... and it must create more dissonance because of our similarities. It's easier to say "Uh-Uh" to not like me. I feel the cut more deeply too ... this one can hurt me, and she does. This morning she tells me, with her actions, that I am not doing my job ... making her lunch is the flash point ... she is overloaded with Spanish II vocab, and studying at the breafast table ... and curtly ordering her little sister to hurry up ... she's going to make everyone late ... and I say, "Let's leave the prompting to me ... we will offload the parenting to me." It's almost funny now that the house is quiet. The parenting she wants, is me in the kitchen preparing her lunch ... and if I won't do that, then I am neglecting my responsibilities ... and to underline that point, she goes to school without her lunch. If I make it ... then no, that's your other child who likes black olives and why didn't you give me more grapes ... Geez, Mom ... eye-rolling ... and I'm standing there thinking if I dared roll my eyes at my momma she woulda slapped them right out of my head!
I tell her ... "I know you don't like me very much right now, and that's okay. I really do understand a lot more of this then you think I do. And I love you. And ... no matter what you think or say or do (but please don't roll your eyes at me child of mine ...I think it is the ultimate in dismissive disrespect), I will always be thinking of your best interests ... I am here for you ... doing what I think is best for you."
"Thank you for breakfast ... love you Mom", Three calls out as he runs out the front door on his way to a third day of college. I know what he is thinking. On Wednesday he hung up the phone on me when I told him to figure out how to catch the bus, or walk the fifteen minutes home from his last class. Hung up ... yeah, really.
When I talked with him about it later, he said, "Well, we were done talking and I just didn't know what to say".
"Say goodbye ... hanging up is just hateful".
Now the house is quiet.
I'm gonna put on some music from the seventies ... And I'm gonna play it really loud.