In Which We Attend 8th-Grade Promotion
Last night lovely lady, 13, went through her 8th grade promotion. My baby girl is in high school.
Excuse me while I catch my breath.
I don't know how this happened. Not the high school thing, even though I'm a little short of breath over it. The hair and the shoes and the black eyeliner. I'm not sure how I became the mom of that kid. The girls I saw in school who were a little rebellious and different. The girls I'd see outside the high school when my lovely lady was little, and I'd think, "No way, no how. What are their parents thinking? Maybe their parents don't really care much about them."
Heh. Life has a way of handing us our assumptions, our "not-my-kid," our "No way, No how" on a silver platter, eh?
There she is in all her pink-haired, wearing black, life is-dark, skull t-shirts, Converse-wearing glory. I paid for the hair and helped her lace up her boots. And I adore her to the ends of the earth.
I've learned from this challenging young lady to pick my battles, and more importantly that there don't need to be battles. That it's important to find ways to say "Yes." To honor her idea of who she is instead of my ideas about who she should be, no matter how cute I think she'd look in that baby pink polo. That a daughter with the confidence to be a little different is more important than what other people think.
In Which I am Shocked, or A Lesson in Appropriate Clothing for Young Teens
So, the other reason I'm not the least bit bothered by the pink hair and etc. I was shocked by what the other girls were allowed to wear to the graduation. I thought I was pushing the envelope by allowing my lovely daughter an above-the-knee dress that shows a hint of cleavage. That sparkly pink dress is conservative compared to the outfits of many of the other girls. The little black dress with a plunging neckline worn with three-inch heels was a popular choice. There were a couple girls whose dresses made me want to run out with a robe to cover them. Excuse me folks, but they're fourteen. Perhaps we could leave a little to the imagination, at least until they're in their twenties and old enough to decide for themselves if they want to dress like....well, they're only fourteen, if that, so I'll be kind.
Let's just say that the pink hair and Converse is looking beautiful to me right now.
In Which My Daughter Really Does Need Me, or Adventures in Autism, or Ways to Connect
I've shared my struggles with my lovely lady and the ways in which her disability impacts our lives. Take the surliness and emotional turmoil of a typical hormonal teen girl, throw in a good dash of My Mom is the Most Embarrassing and Unreasonable Person on the Planet, and remove the social filter, and I've got quite a parenting challenge on my hands.
Over the past spring we've had lots of grumping and fussing and "Leave me alone." A deep need for some peace and solitude after a long day of social interactions. It's heartwrenching when a young person so embedded in my heart doesn't want to have much to do with me and makes it crystal clear. I was genuinely concerned for our relationship. Until the morning the phone rang, around noon, and it was my precious lovely lady. "Mom, I was thinking about my trip to Arizona. Do you think I need a new swimsuit?" I ventured that I thought the one she had was probably just fine. "Oh. Okay. Thanks, Mom. Bye."
I realized that increasingly over the past few months the phone rings midday, and it's my lovely lady. She'll ask me a question or share a pressing thought or ask advice over a little concern, then off she goes about her day. All issues that could very well wait until she gets off the bus.
A quick connection. A "Mom, I need you." A way to reach out and preserve our relationship and still get the quiet she needs at the end of the school day.
And so I can be patient. That little phone call was all I needed to refresh my spirit and renew my faith that deep down in there, my baby still needs her momma. Pink hair and all.