Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fast forward and back again

One of the things I enjoy most about our annual school auction, which was last Saturday (hence lack of posting), is chatting with some of the parents I don't see that often at school as we pass on different work and car pool schedules. I always enjoy talking to parents whose kids are a few years ahead of mine. I like to know what's coming up—good and bad. So I can't say I wasn't warned. From a woman who admits that, like Sophie and me, she and her girl are the best of pals: "The disdain. The eye rolling. That's hard." I try to imagine what that would be like. I'm so used to the adoration. 

Last night I got a taste of things to come. And I wondered if is this what life with a teenage is going to be like: She hurts me; I want to hurt her. We both dig in. She tries to move forward, I pull back. Thank goodness she does not give up. But some day she might, and when I move back to her, she might not be there waiting. 

This is what happened. I was unloading groceries, making dinner, and helping Sophie research the Panama Canal—a normal multitasking evening in our house. Husband came home from work and wanted his pruning shears. Where were they? I had used them last. He needed them now. If I had just put them back where I they belong, he wouldn't need to be asking me to find them right now. Honestly, sometimes I think I live with two children. I'm sure in his mind making me this mad is his way of ensuring that I will correctly replace the pruning shears next time. Brilliant. I turned off the stove, rinsed my hands, and stormed out into the garage muttering "Fucking idiot!" Which of course Sophie heard. 

Later when the pruning shears had been found and I had cooled off, Husband came into the office, where I was Wikipeding the Panama Canal, to inform me that Sophie had told him I called him a fucking idiot. So now we have another little fight. I am sorry. Husband goes on for a while. We work it out. 

But my girl had betrayed me, which she has never done before. She tattled. And she did something she knew would get me in trouble. And I thought maybe she's not my pal; she's just my daughter, and this is what mothers and daughters do to each other. For the next hour I was uninterested in her cheery chatter ("Look, Mama! This purse had a special place for a water bottle!" "Fine.") and rebuffed her attempts at making up. I was finally able to hear what she was really saying: It hurts her when I hurt her daddy. I agreed to try not to do that. She agreed to talk to me if she does not like something I am doing. 

"But," I said, "you know, sometimes he really is . . . " 
"Yes, Mama, I know."

I've got a few years to get this worked out, right? Or maybe not. 


Cid said...

Good for you for hearing what she was really trying to tell you. Wouldn't life be easier if we could all just come right out and say what we mean? Like "you fucking idiot."

Purple Flowers said...

Good Luck. From what I hear from my friends who have daughters nine and up, it's a balancing act. At some point, the mother should only be a Mother, other times pals. She does love her Daddy, and doesn't want to see either of you hurt. I don't think she wants to feel as if she's in the middle. You're a great Mom, and husband is a great Father, I'm sure. It's family stuff that has to get worked out through effective communication.

lisagh said...


Sabina said...

Guess it's time for you to start journaling all your inner angst. Or else it becomes an ugly free for all. Eye rolling has already begun here at chez nous...be delighted in her naivete, because the alternative works your already exasperated nerves. Excellent parenting reporting.

NJDecorator said...

It is times like this that make ou a good mother ...and will help in the long run.

ANFQ said...

I am glad to know that I am not the only one who lives in a house of children (despite spouse's age)-- but good lesson learned for all of us to hear how it hurts them when we aren't nice to one another.

But I SERIOUSLY loathe when I have to find something that he did not put back in its place. Which really? Is pretty much everything.

KatieGirlBlue said...

Maybe the start of the evolution from child/friend to friend/child?

Those tense times - when the pruning shears or ski waxing tools or dog treats have gone missing - can be so unproductive, can so rapidly deteriorate.

Thinking of you!

Jen Yu said...

Coming from a family that screams at you when they're in the best of moods, I am amazed at how well you and S talked through it all. I think it says a lot about you, and a lot about her. She's a pretty awesome little kid. But yeah, asking a child to take sides or keep secrets is something to avoid, me thinks. Great that you two can talk these things through. You're gonna tackle the teenage years just fine. xxoo