For all my talk about living each moment as if it’s your last and loving and hugging and playing and blah blah blah, I spent this morning completely infuriated by my daughter.
First, let me explain something. One of my friend’s daughters said, "You want me to be like Caroline. Caroline is perfect." And her mom responded, "Oh, no she’s not, honey. I read her mom’s blog." It was funny, but it’s also so illustrative of who my daughter is. Perfect? Yes. To almost everyone. Kind. Smart, cute, athletic, good sense of humor. Good listener. Helpful. Tremendously self confident, social. Polite. She’s truly amazing.
But then, at home, the dark side emerges. The dark side that is (gulp) JUST LIKE ME. Try that on for size...your kid mainly takes after the NEGATIVE parts of you! It’s true; we have some of the good qualities in common, but she is, genetically, a smart ass. She’s a button pusher. She’s stubborn as a mule (oops, me too) and cannot stand it when she doesn’t get her way (also guilty as charged). If you take a stubborn, smart-ass, button-pusher daughter and have her in conflict with a stubborn, smart-ass, button-pusher mom, well, all hell will break loose.
This morning, I tried to be a good mom. Mondays are hard, and I know that. So I made breakfasts early (I’m no slouch – we’re talking omelets and sausage and toast and fruit and juice. And cheese balls, but those weren’t sanctioned). So breakfast? Check. Lunches? Packed, with cute jokes written on the napkins, just the way the kids like. (My all-time favorite napkin joke: why did Tigger stick his head in the toilet? He was looking for Pooh.) At 8:00, I asked (nicely) for the kids to turn off the cartoons, get dressed, make their beds, feed their pets, etc. That gave them a full thirty minutes to do all those things.
8:10. Jack is dressed, including his shoes. Caroline stands up from the couch.
8:15. I get out of the shower, Jack is finishing making his bed. Caroline stretches.
8:20. I’ve dried my hair and gotten dressed. Jack is feeding his fish. Caroline is looking up the weather report on the computer to see what she should wear.
8:25. Caroline comes into my dressing room in her bathrobe. I look at her like she’s sprouted horns and say (not so nicely), "GET DRESSED!" She smiles and triumphantly whips off her bathrobe to show me that she is, in fact, dressed. (Damnit. She got me.)
8:29. Jack is standing by the door with his backpack on. I’m walking down the stairs. Caroline is dressed, yes, but she’s not wearing shoes or socks. Her hair isn’t brushed. Her teeth aren’t brushed. Her bed isn’t made. Her guinea pig is squeaking at the top of her little guinea pig lungs because Caroline hasn’t given her a leaf of romaine lettuce. "We’re leaving in ONE MINUTE. CAROLINE."
8:30. Jack and I are ready to walk out the door. Caroline says, "Hey, look, I found all this change. Can I keep it?"
8:31. Holy mother of God. Does she live to torture me?
"Well, while you were on your little treasure hunt, Jack and I were getting ready. You weren’t. So goodbye. We’re leaving."
8:31 and ten seconds. She takes a deep breath and closes her eyes, like I’m the one being unreasonable. She plasters a condescending smile on her face and says, "Mommy, can you please come upstairs and help me with my hair?"
8:35. "I can’t find my shoes."
8:36. I’ve had it. I tell her we’re leaving and she can walk to school by herself.
8:37. She yells, "My shoes are wet!" to my back as we head down the driveway.
8:38. Jack and I are only just across the street, hiding behind a tree, because really, I do have to make sure she’s okay. I just can’t let her know I’m secretly waiting on her.
8:40. She strolls out of the house. Jack and I walk. She catches up to me, says, "Just so you know, I’m not talking to you." Then she falls behind about ten steps.
8:45. We get to school. I kiss Jack and say goodbye. He tells me he loves me. Caroline stands still, silently, long enough to allow me to kiss her and say goodbye. Then she flounces into school.
Seriously, Caroline? What if I get hit by a sniper on the way home? (Not totally unrealistic, you know.) What if I get hit by a truck? What if I get cancer TODAY??? Don’t you know every moment could be your last? Or my last? Or that you’re supposed to say "I love you" a lot?
It’ll never happen. In fact, were I to say any of that, I can just imagine her response:
"If you get hit by a truck, can I have your shoes? Mine are wet."
Yup. I know, because that's exactly what I'd say, too.