Sunday, August 14, 2016

The ripple effect

Sometimes I worry that I'm the worst influence in Alison's life.

It was from me that she picked up her love of cursing. Something she does -- almost always -- out of our earshot but I know she's a sailor-in-training. I sometimes commit minor traffic violations in her presence, and when it's just her and I and she asks if we can lay around like dogs watching TV with carryout for dinner, I almost always say yes.

I even blew off a parents' back-to-school night meeting to watch the Olympics with her. But I have landed a couple of solids in the good column, too, I discovered this week.

She was waxing poetic in the car coming home, telling me about some friends of hers who were complaining about their parents. One was unhappy that her parent(s) were too busy working and couldn't get her to something she wanted to do. Shopping or movies; something fun. They were terrible, awful people, not able to take five minutes off for their daughter. (Yeah, I know there's more to this story, but this is what I know.)

Alison said she listened for a while and then said, "You know where your electricity comes from, right? Food and water and stuff like that? Your parents have to work to pay for that stuff."

To another parent basher, she questioned the level of abuse they were actually suffering. "I'm pretty sure they're not that terrible," she said, pointing to another friend who was actually victimized by physical abuse. "Is it that bad? I didn't think so."

She shifted to talking about some friends complaining about the pain and agony of menstrual cramps. Apparently it's quite the topic of conversation and Ali herself has commented more than once about a girl who "saved my life" when she shared a chewy, double-chocolate brownie just in time.

Ali used to reject chocolate out of hand. Lately she's been carrying an Altoids tin that she's stuffed full of chocolate chips. Just in case another crisis erupts.  Somehow during the course of this latest hot topic, she turns to me and says, "The first thing you ever mentioned to me about it was that I'd better never try to be a "B" and blame it on my period. If I did that, you said you would have no sympathy for me."

I disputed her recall. I'm pretty sure we talked a lot about puberty and all its wonder pre, post and during. But then she reminded me of the day I'd made that impression.

We were in Target and there was a girl who was just ripping her mother a new one right in the line to the cashier. It was uncomfortable and the mom eventually caught my eye, shrugged and excused the behavior with, "She's on her period."

It was likely then that I whipped around to Ali and intoned the message that she'd better not take that incident as behavior she should emulate. Apparently I was a bit more forceful than I had intended.

I will move Heaven and Earth to keep Ali from being unhappy or in pain. And I know that periods play different levels of havoc on all who suffer through them. But it's not a blank check to be a bee-yatch to your mother or anyone else.

Side note: I'm fully aware that I, myself, am sometimes bitchy. You might try to trace it to a 28-day schedule, but sadly, sometimes I'm just cranky and I fail in my struggle to keep it from spewing like a broken water main.  Or I'm busy and I give my co-workers the virtual or actual hand.

This is a bit of a "do-as-I-say; not-as-I-do" kind of scenario, I know. But I struggle to overcome. If I can keep her from having this challenge in her repertoire , I'll be happy. And possibly make up for teaching her bad words.

Regarding my driving, Ali and I were on our own Friday as Jeff went to a friend's bachelor party kind of thing. I asked her how she was coming with her mission to convince the Captain to let her get her drivers' learner's permit.  She said she was still working on it and I offered to take her out to teach her to drive a bit.

"No offense, Mom, but no way," she said.

As I've been down this road with her in the past, I was not surprised, but I've really been thinking that she'd relent the longer she goes without getting behind the wheel when 16 is coming fast.

"Come on! It'll be fun," I said.

"Mom. You are a TERRIBLE driver. You know it. I know it. Miss Amy knows it," she said. "I really think I need to learn from Dad."

I argued back for a while but she was having none of it.  The ungrateful wench.

In reality, it's probably a good idea that I don't teach her to drive. There may be a few curse words she doesn't know yet. Better to keep it that way...

I leave you with her discovery that she is now the same length as our yoga mat, which is problem. Apparently she can no longer create a human sushi roll. Guess we need a longer yoga mat...

No comments: