I took time off work to hang out with Alison during her Fall Break. I'd pictured us taking advantage of the beautiful weather by biking all over the neighborhood.
Biking to BR Nails for pedicures, then to lunch somewhere in Broad Ripple or maybe all the way up to Carmel via the Monon. She has a homecoming dance soon and I was hoping we'd have some fun shopping for that -- incorporating bike trips to Macy's or Marshalls or the vintage shops sprinkled in between.
I forgot that she's a teenager now.
"Why would we bike?" she asked? "I think I'd rather stay here and sleep."
It was 10 a.m. Maybe 11. I'd just walked back from 55th and Keystone where I'd left my beloved Mustang in the hands of Mike at Edwards Transmission. The car's get up had gone a while ago and I feared a huge problem. Mike was great, theorized a bit and assured me he'd get right on it. His 2010 Mustang convertible had been T-boned a while back and he still had traces of the grief in his eyes. I thought it was in good hands.
So I was energized when I got home. I'd texted ahead and even gotten her to start my coffee. I knew I'd need caffeine when I sprang my plan on her. She's a wily one. But her toes were in bad shape and the dance approacheth.
"Why?," she asked again. "Do we need to bike? Dad left you his car."
I agreed that the car was right there but it was for emergencies. "It's a great day. Let's ride up and then maybe shop for an outfit for the dance."
"I have plenty of clothes," said she. "I don't need to shop. And I'm NOT wearing a dress."
Pete the Planner and the frugal captain might have rejoiced at those words, but this is her first high school dance. The first dance she's ever expressed an interest in attending. She skipped all the catholic "gatherings" and had to be tricked into the father-daughter Girl Scout dance.
Come to think of it, I might have tricked him, too. No matter.
I caved in on the biking to BR Nails, thinking we could drive up to Castleton and spend a few hours shopping. She suggested the Glendale Target instead. We compromised on Macy's for the outfit and Target for some candles.
Off we set, successfully shopped via car, but when we got home, the 3-wick candle I bought would only catch one flame. Then, we discovered one of the garments we bought still had the clunky plastic tag on it. It was late afternoon, though, and we were making dinner, so I decided to move my bike plan to Friday.
You might think it's not easy to bike carrying a defective 3-wick candle, but I managed it. I also stuffed in her still-tagged outfit and the receipts and money we'd need. First stop Target where it was easy to get a credit and then Macy's where the clerks waved off the need of proof of purchase.
"You two were in here yesterday weren't you?" the check-out clerk said. This was not the same clerk we'd rung out with. It's possible I was wearing the same clothes as I wore Thursday, but still, I was a little curious as to why she didn't think we could be shoplifters.
At our puzzled looks, she said, "I remember that beautiful hair."
We smile. Minutes before, in the Target customer service line, a strawberry blond woman with a fragrant toddler had asked me if we were both natural redheads. I just smiled because, WTH lady. I don't ask people if they're naturally chubby. Why be so personal? I don't lie about my hair. I just don't feel the need to confess all to perfect strangers.
So Ali of course, as she always does, tells the nice stranger that SHE, Ali, is a natural but I'm not. The woman is annoyed with me - visibly - for not having corrected her. I'm about to point out that her kid might need a refresh when she gets called to the counter. Anyway, back to Macy's.
Compliments politely acknowledged and tag off, we went back out to the bikes.
I tell Ali that if she had planned a life of crime, she'll have to give it up because criminals have to be able to blend, to be forgettable. With her hair, she'll never be incognito.
"Do you want to me lead a life of crime?" she asks.
"Well, no, I'm just saying."
We ran into Hannah Ogden on our way to another store. It was fun to see her and we chatted about the night's upcoming surprise party for her mom's birthday and off we went to Walgreen's where I planned to buy a gag gift for Karin as suggested by her co-workers. She's always losing her reading glasses so we planned to gift her with enough she couldn't ever lose them.
If you've never shopped for readers at Walgreens, here's a clue. They're at the end of an aisle which offers on one side hair care products and on the other an amazing array of more intimate items. I know this because I was deep into figuring out the proper magnification of the glasses I wanted to buy when I hear, "That's a LOT of condoms."
Right. Trojans have come a long way over the years. Alison read off some of the more interesting specialty items they offer now. Then, she came to the lotions and "Uh, Mom. Is it legal to have something like that in a store like this?"
Walgreens is selling a vibrator now. Right there in the magic lotion section next to the condoms. Just around the corner from the glasses for old people.
"I'm sure it's legal," I said. "Why, were you thinking you needed something like that?"
She was appropriately horrified then said, "I think Dad would have a heart attack if I came home with something like that."
We ended our drugstore shopping with just the readers, thank you. We were heading home with my backpack lighter one big-ass candle so I suggested we lengthen our ride.
"Why?!" she said. "Let's just go home."
"Why should we go home? It's a beautiful day. We're young and healthy. Let's keep riding. Why do you want to go home?"
"Because home is where the TV is," she said, pedaling hard like a field horse who could smell the hay in the barn.
I sighed and gave in again. On Friday, she slept in again. I attempted to get her to run errands with me but she clearly wanted to laze about. I got her into the car and even started out, thinking she'd come around by the time we got to our destination. No go.
Annoyed, I turned the car around, planning to set her free in the driveway.
"Are you sure," she asked?
These days, if I can't fully appreciate the nuances of the 654th episode of South Park for the day, she considers me uneducated. So in she goes and off I go, doing my chores. Alone.
I got home, later than I'd wanted, barely in time for us to get to Karin's surprise party. We go -- she peels off to be with her friends -- as she should -- and we each have a great time. It's impossible to not have a good time around the Ogdens.
On the way home she leans over and says, "I'm glad we came. This was fun."
Sigh. She's still my little girl. Kind of.
Saturday was a rush of getting my car back -- thank you Mike! -- hair appointments and YAT before she babysat. An unsolicited hug here and there. Chinese food on the way home -- eating a few dumplings in the car because we can't help ourselves. Laughing over my driving skills as I get used to a clutch that's working perfectly and causing me to stall out occasionally.
Jeff and I walked Ali to her baby sitting gig here in the neighborhood. Heading back home without her, he said, "You know, it's not going to be too much longer until it's just you and me. Walking just like this like we did 18 years ago."
I didn't choke up. I didn't wail. It's an inevitable truth. And it's not like I don't enjoy my time with the captain. We had a great date night last night.
But this parenting thing is hard. I don't have pets because they die and I don't want to have to face that. How did I ever get talked into being a parent when you raise the little beast intentionally giving it the strength and courage and tools to leave your ass behind? What kind of a sick process is this?!
All I can do is brace myself and hope she'll drift back to me from time to time. In the meantime, I have one more day of fall break.
If she ever gets up, we're going to have F.U.N. Whether she likes it or not. :)