A couple of weeks ago I was all in angst about Alison and her unwavering commitment to growing up and being her own damn person.
I know every parent and every teen goes through this peak and valley kind of thing, so what makes our problems so much bigger than everybody else's? In my best Ally McBeal paraphrase: "They're ours."
And, I'm happy to report that we're out of the valley and approaching what I hope will be a big, long peak.
Alison is the biggest user of our data plan so when we get messages from AT&T that we're in danger of eclipsing our plan, the Captain heads straight to the redhead. By biggest user, I mean her Internet, Spotify and movie downloading generally uses 3/4 of our limit. So her surfing wings have been clipped until the new cycle begins.
I asked her to look something up for me on our way home from school. She asked for my phone. In response to my inquiry, she said she wasn't using hers unless she was on a wifi network. I said I thought we had a little room. She declined and used my phone.
"Dad's gonna kill me if I use any more data," she said.
I laughed. "Oh come one. The worst he'll do is take your phone and iPad," I said.
She looked at me. "I know. He's gonna kill me."
The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a blur with both Jeff and I crazy at work. Ali had mid-terms. She thought she did well on them, and I'd have to say that high school so far has been a great success. Parent-teacher conferences were due but work kept both of us away.
So I emailed all of her teachers, explaining we weren't deadbeat parent; just busy ones. I gave them each a bit of what I was experiencing from her and asked if they'd reply via email - at their convenience - if they had concerns, issues or accolades to offer.
Here's a great thing about Herron High School and it's teachers: "their convenience" was nearly instantaneous, within hours at the latest. I was really expecting something over the next several days as most other parents would have made a way to have these visits in person.
Alison's teachers are finding her "a delight" "a hoot," "a sarcastic wit" a welcome presence in class and a great kid to have around. Except when she doesn't get her work done in class. She might need to be challenged in Honors Algebra -- she didn't get that from me -- but all in all, she's having a great freshman introduction.
She's making great new friends and her independent nature is being fed quite well. She had an unusually low test score in one class that I wanted to talk about more deeply than she did. I let it slide over dinner then came back to it. She ended up going to bed early and I was conflicted about whether to see what was up. I let it go.
She went to bed, Jeff went to work downstairs and I went to watch bad TV in my bedroom. It wasn't 10 minutes before she came rushing in, crying and laid across my lap. It took me while to even understand what she was saying. "I've been so mean to you! I'm sorry. I'm sorry."
I was taken aback because we were well beyond the occasion when she came slightly close to being mean and even then, it was just being 14, not malicious. She had spent a large part of the day with Hannah Ogden, and I don't know what all they talked about but I suspect it might have covered some of our somewhat troubled ground. (Remind me to send Hannah a gift.)
Also, she'd been listening to a play list that happened to include, somehow, "You are my Sunshine." I used to sing that (badly) to her when she was tiny. It is, apparently, some sort of guilt-laced trip wire of past gloriousness. All I know is, she came in to snuggle a bit before going back to bed, apologizing for sins I'm not aware of nor need to be.
Last night, we went to a Pumpkin Slashing party hosted by the Horlanders, who've had the party for years for the boys in Ali's CKS class. Last year was the first time Alison had been invited -- she was the only girl to ever be invited and they had had a great time.
She wore her father's Army hat and jacket with green pants and a camp tank top. Costume of the night, though, was either Tom's Star Trek uniform or Drew as a knight with real chain mail and period helmet.
It was a fun night and from all appearances seemed like nothing had changed among the group except for everyone being a bit taller.
"That's just wrong, Mom," she said later. "I'm supposed to be taller than some of them and Rylan's voice got deeper too. It's just wrong."
This morning, she slept in while Jeff and I ran to the Broad Ripple Farmer's market where we were at the Lee Orchard apple stand chattering away. I stepped back a bit and saw a guy I knew I knew but couldn't place.'
We chatted a bit. I petted his puppy and recommended he try the apple cider ice cream at the Lic's booth. After a while he said, "I don't know if you remember me but I'm Clay Taylor."
I confessed. "I know we've met, but..."
"I was on Coach Reed's basketball team," he said and instantly I placed him. When Jeff and I were first dating, he coached for Immaculate Heart of Mary. His group was largely the same over three years or so and we had the best time with the boys and the parents.
It's not uncommon for us to be some where and hear, "Coach!" and it's one of those boys from those or their parents and it's alway something that stays with you a while.
Ali wasn't born yet when Jeff was coaching so the "boys" are all grown up now, so I think I should be forgiven for not recognizing Clay right way. He introduced us to his wife, for goodness sake, and he's about to join his father's dental practice. He's a man! They're all men. But the photo below is how I will forever see them.
Clay is at the top. The Miller boys are the twins. One of those poor boys is the one Jeff made run so much that his mother protested. He has flat feet, she said. He shouldn't have to run so much. "Ma'am, he may have flat feet, but if he's gonna play ball for me, he's gonna run," Jeff responded.
At some point during their seasons, we got married and word trickled to me that the team fully expected to attend our wedding. "Of course they should!" I said. Some of the moms were appalled and thought they had overstepped.
I thought it was an enormous tribute to the coach and they were among the highlights of the event.
Speaking of the coach, the captain, Jeffrey Merle Reed: he had a birthday on the 29th. We celebrated - sort of - at a work event at Hotel Tango and of course our traditional morning present drop. We'll do more later tonight. And I think we'll be checking back in to HT early and often in the coming weeks and years.
Today, leaving the market, he said to me, "I got a thank you card and letter from my sister."
"A thank you note? I said. For what?"
I usually know what's going on in the family, and I was pretty sure if anyone had done anything remotely worth a thank you for Jen, it had not been the Captain.
"Listen," he said. "Sometimes when the words don't make sense, you should just go with it."
Hmmm. Words to live by. We're off to Halloween stuff now. Alison's actual Halloween costume will be revealed later. I'm still trying to decide if I should have hired bodyguards for her. She's off with Herron friends, Asher and Asher's friends.
I'm a little spooked.