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Kelsea called from the mall with her friends the other night and wanted to go to a sleepover.  All eight girls at the mall had spontaneously decided they wanted a sleepover, and one of the parents had agreed.  I had never met the parents, much less the girl, and even though I know that Kelsea’s friends are all of good character, I said no.  I wouldn’t want to impose on parents who I’d never met, and who had never met my daughter.  Kelsea couldn’t tell me exactly where they lived.  I just wasn’t comfortable.  Pat agreed with me.  So even though Kelsea called three times, and begged, and her friend Joy begged, I stuck by my guns, and nicely told her just to accept “no” as an answer.

Well, everyone else went.  I picked Kelsea up at the mall a few minutes after they had all gone.  And I felt conflicted.  Was I being unreasonable?  Overprotective?  I had called her on my way to the mall and told her Joy could sleep over at our house, if they wanted, since that’s who she’d gone to the mall with, but it was too late – Joy had already gone with the group.

Kelsea wasn’t really mad – well, she was a little, but she was very reasonable.  She didn’t want to discuss it much – she said she saw my point, and she felt that she had been wrong in not accepting “no” as the answer, since I generally say yes.  And she felt bad that she hadn’t said “I love you” back to me when we hung up.  But she said that things have changed since I was thirteen.  Kids make plans at the spur of the moment and parents need to understand that.

Is that true?  I can recall some spontaneous sleepovers when I had been at a friend’s house and we just wanted to keep hanging out, and my parents usually said yes.  But large-scale, multi-girl sleepovers were heavily planned and much-anticipated events that usually coincided with a birthday.  Not just a bunch of us at the mall after school.

Is it that we have shifted to such a real-time mentality that this IS the norm?  Am I truly behind the times?  I trust Kelsea and her judgement, but she is still my daughter, is still 13, and is still my responsibility.  I just wonder when to let the leash out – or to let her off the leash.

Hmm.  Any other parents of teenagers – or any teenagers! –  feel free to chime in to help me figure this out.  Thanks!

When we were coming in the house last night, we were talking about someone she knew, and Kelsea said, “You know, X seems older than us.”  And then she realized what she had just said.  And I realized what she had just said.  And we laughed.  It’s an interesting mix of flattering and worrisome when your 13-year old thinks of you as being her age. 

It’s true, right now, we are close — more sister-like in many ways.  Now before you think what I always think about parents who want to be their kids’ friends, stop right there.  I never set out wanting to be Kelsea’s friend.  That was never a goal.  I’ve always been proud and happy to be her mom.  But somehow, the friend thing has just happened. I still do all the mom-things, like making her do her homework, take a shower, clean up (as best as can be expected), etc.  We still have the required talks about boys, sex, drugs, personal hygiene and just about anything else you can think of.  But at this point, she’s pretty self-disciplined.  She’s got a pretty good moral compass going (she even brought up the concept of the moral compass herself a few weeks ago).

As I rediscover myself as a single person, I am rediscovering a lot of buried treasure – otherwise known as fun.  And Kelsea is fun.  So when you put the two of us together, we have…fun.  It’s just not always the typical mother-daughter fun (whatever that is). 

Last night, for example, we settled in to watch a little TV.  Normal, right?  But what we wound up watching was “RuPaul’s Drag Race”.  Suddenly, the mother-daughter TV time travelled into another dimension. 

As with most kids her age, Kelsea knows a lot more worldly things than I give her credit for.  I have basically given up trying to “shield” her from topics that are overtly sexual or violent or evil.  Between friends, the internet, and her Dad not doing that sort of editing, she seems to know a little about just about everything.  In watching drag queens compete for the ultimate drag queen title, I actually found the opportunity to discuss a variety of topics that don’t come up in ordinary conversation: transvestism, transgender tendencies, make-up, cattiness, fashion.  I had the chance to clarify certain questions that she hadn’t had anyone to ask.  So it wound up being a good thing.

It also wound up being a politically incorrect hoot.  We were calling each other the choice names we learned from JuJuBee, Raven and the new Tyra for the rest of the night.  I was compelled to remind her this morning not to use those terms during her visit to the Alzheimer’s Memory Center today.  But I found it as funny as she did.  As always when we went to bed, even though we were both tired, we spent half an hour talking between our rooms about dreams, boys, travel.  It reminds me of how my Dad used to lay at the foot of my bed, talking with me about anything, as I was going to sleep when I was littler than Kelsea.

This morning, we sat on the kitchen floor eating breakfast and composing new LOLs with the LOL magnets on the refrigerator door, and speculated on how many other mother/daughters eat breakfast on the floor.  Not many, we concluded.

I’ve written recently about how I’ve been warned by almost everybody (except a very kind blog friend) how Kelsea will turn into the seven-headed unrecognizable demon from the black lagoon at any moment, so I should cherish these times.  Well, guess what?  I do cherish these times.  I would cherish these times even if the transformation was not a possiblity in the offing.  (And don’t worry, I’m waiting for that first shoe to drop.)

So maybe I’m not instilling in her the finest table manners, how to fold a hospital corner (okay, I have tried that) or how not to slurp her soup.  But I hope I’m strengthening her base of knowledge.  I hope I’m increasing her trust in her mother as someone she can talk to about absolutely anything, someone who won’t judge her regardless of the topic, her opnions or her actions.  Someone to whom she can reach out if she needs help or feels troubled or confused.

I’d rather be doing that.  And laughing with her.  And just loving her.

Kelsea came out of karate yesterday pale and in pain.  Class hadn’t hurt her – she had been having terrible pain in her right flank, in short stabs, for over an hour.  I quizzed her, took her home, tucked her in, took her temperature, forced fluids, gave her Tylenol, fed her mac and cheese. She rated the pain a 9 on a scale of 1-10, and asked me if this was what it was like to be in labor.  Of course, I remember labor, but I can’t be in her body to tell what she’s feeling.  Regardless, it was bad pain.  I have come to realize that Kelsea has inherited my father’s legendary high-pain threshold, so when she says it hurts, you can believe it hurts like the devil.

It was still bad this morning – she couldn’t move without intense pain.  And she’d had some nausea.  Time to call the doctor!  Dr. R. agreed with my preliminary diagnosis – it sounded like the dreaded kidney stone.  Kidney stones in kids, while still rare, are dramatically on the rise.  But that meant that our next stop was the hospital for an ultrasound.  I’ve been in the hospital with Kelsea when I had her (contrary to the insurance company’s bizarre statement that I had her at home) and when she had her bad shoulder x-rayed.  Pat’s been there with her when she had an MRI on the same shoulder, and when he accidentally let the shopping cart she was sitting in tip forward, resulting in a parking lot faceplant when she was a baby.  (I’m glad I missed that one and glad she has such a hard head – figuratively and literally.)

But today, when the Hmong ultrasound tech, who mispronounced Kelsea’s name, and scolded me about her having had cereal three hours previously, told me to sit in the corner and watch, it was like an awful movie.  What was playing through my mind was worse. Looking at the complete and total mystery of the ultrasound pictures – is all black bad? or is fuzzy bad? – my mind went everywhere: to her being really sick – like kidney cancer sick, to her being in even more pain, to her having to stay alone in the hospital, to any and all kinds of unknowns that are as bad as they can be.  My thoughts spun out of control.

Despite Ms. Hmong’s protests, I got up and went to stand beside her, to hold her hand, and stroke her hair.  Because that’s all I could do.  That’s all any mother can do sometimes.  It made us both feel better.  Her beautiful blue eyes looked into my hazel ones and we spoke without words.  We both felt that eternally powerful bond of love between us that made us smile.  It was one of the deepest gazes I’ve ever shared with her.  She lay on that table, in that darkened room, looking like a teenager, looking like a woman, looking like my little girl, and being just an amazing, strong human being.

The ultrasound was inconclusive.  We’re waiting for blood work results.  She’s still in pain, but now instead of me, she has her dad and her dogs and cats for comfort. I’m hoping that she’s not an early third-generation victim of the female kidney stone curse that runs through the women in my family.  But if she is, we’ll deal with it.

As a Mom, you never want your child to hurt, to suffer.  You’d do anything to spare your child pain.  And it’s heartbreaking to feel helpless when you can’t fix their pain.  When I can’t fix her pain.

Perhaps this is more of a Mom-Rant…I don’t know.  I only know that I have some rants (or peeves) and it’s high time to express them.  So, let’s start with the pick-up/drop-off lanes at Kelsea’s school.

Why, why, WHY is this such a cluster **** every morning???

The horseshoe-shaped drop-off zone has “Hug and Go” signs from one end of the horseshoe to the other.  The door to the school is in the middle of the horseshoe, about 20 yards from the curb.  The first car that enters the horseshoe should pull up to the far end, keep the motor running, give their child a kiss, let him or her open the door, get his or her backpack, close the door, and then the parent should drive away.  Sounds so simple.  (See the picture of the horseshoe drive below?  This is Kelsea’s actual school.)

BUT…and this is a big but…

That’s not what happens.  Parents drive up to the exact center of the horseshoe so that their child will not have to walk any more than the absolute shortest distance to the school door.  And then they obviously discuss in-depth philosophical issues with said child for about 5 minutes prior to child exiting the vehicle, which in itself requires that the child open all car doors AND that the parent shut the car off and exit the vehicle to assist the child, OR (as occurred this morning) to CARRY the child’s backpack into the school WITH the child.  Additional discussions between parent and child once both parties have exited the vehicle are also required.

Once the child has turned towards the school door, the parent (if not physically accompanying the child into the school)  MUST re-enter the vehicle, watch the child until he or she enters the school and the door closes firmly behind him/her, then check their cellphone, put on make-up and deodorant, shave, adjust mirrors, start the car, wait for it to warm up, and then immediately pull back out into the horseshoe without looking to see if any cars are in the (theoretical) driving lane of the horseshoe.

Other parents are behind, jockeying for the next closest post position, or just sitting, waiting until it is their turn to pull up to the primo spot and perform the aforementioned ritual.

I seem to have some time warp issues with getting Kelsea to school on time.  We’ve discussed it.  We’ve tried all kinds of things to resolve it – leaving earlier, getting up earlier, packing up the night before, you name it.  It’s just a maternal failing that I freely own up to.  So we usually pull up to the horseshoe with minutes (or seconds) to spare before she’s tardy.  I’m sure the front office can tell when she’s staying with me vs. her Dad, just like her friends can tell based on the quality of her packed lunches.  (They take pity on her and share their lunches when she’s been with me.)

The dialogue (or soliloquy) in our car in the morning goes something like this from the time we approach the turning into the school parking lot:

Me: Why are you going so slow?  WHY are you going 5 miles an hour?  This is a 20 mile per hour zone.  And it’s NOT a four-way stop.  Don’t be so polite! Quit waving everyone else in!  Maybe YOU don’t have to be someplace else but I do!  ****** idiots!  GO!  GO!  MOOOOOVE!!!
Kelsea:  It’s okay, Mom, I’m already late.
Me:  It’s not okay!  Why do these Rock Creek moms have to be such idiots?  This is stupid!  It’s not that complicated!  You just puuuulllll up, there you go, allllll the way up, there, see?  This guy knows what he’s doing!  He’s doing it right.  Now see, I’ll just pull up behind him.  Look, what a good drop-off parent – wait, oh no, no, he’s getting out of the car – what?  He’s going into the school – he’s just LEAVING the car there! Now I’m blocked in.  **** him!!  ******* dumb-ass!! I’m going to ….
Kelsea:  Bye, Mom, I love you!
Me:  Bye, honey, have a great day.

So by the time I do get out of there, my blood pressure has soared, steam is coming out of my ears, and (depending on the day) I’m close to tears.  I will say it distracts Kelsea from her customary morning grumpiness, so that’s a minor blessing. 

And we just have to look for the little blessings in all of those things we can’t change, now don’t we?

 

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