Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mama Drama

I apologize for my absence. My husband and I somehow got computer viruses on our two home computers and they proceeded to DIE on exactly the same day. One of these computers is very old--we bought it my husband's first year of grad school. It was one of our first "BIG" purchases as a married couple and we were so proud of it, so we have been careful over the years to take care of it. We were very sad because we thought it had gone to the Giant Harddrive in the Sky, but one of my husband's old high school acquaintances was able to bring it back! Yea! So now I am sitting here typing on it. This pleases me.

Anyway, I am writing this short post because I need to, because if I don't, I might pull out all my hair, or acquire a drinking problem, or become one of those people you see in grocery store parking lots talking to themselves and eating fried chicken off of the bone. As you may know, I have an 11 year old daughter. If you also have (or have had) one of these beings, you are shaking your head in agreement right now because you know what I'm going to say. If you haven't, allow me to explain. Having an 11 year old daughter is like waking up every morning and staring at a blender. Some days you make yourself a nice smoothie with strawberries and chocolate soy milk and bananas and life is good. And some days you stick your hand in and turn the thing on. You don't know why--it just happens. And just when you think it couldn't get any worse, you wake up the next day and have to face that same damn blender again. And again.

So it goes.

I adore my daughter, I really do. I'm not one of those parents who honestly wants to ship their child off to boot camp or something. My daughter is amazing--she's a straight A student, she is easy to get along with (mostly) and she is caring and kind. 95% of the time, I stare at her, and I'm just giddy thinking that when I was a kid her age, I would have loved to hang out with her. But 5% of the time, living with her is like living with the cast of Days of Our Lives. Especially during that summer when Stefano cursed Marlena so she was possessed by the devil and had those green eyes and then John was possessed by it too, and Kristen had something to do with it too, but I can't remember what, and then I had to go back to school for the school year and never found out exactly what happened. SO MUCH DRAMA. Something is always going on in this kids life--someone she knows is being wronged, she has been wronged, OMG OUR CHEERLEADING UNIFORMS HAVE NOT COME IN AND I CAN NOT FACE ANOTHER DAY. Mostly we just ride the wave and occasionally share eye rolls among the other (sane) members of the family, but this week it has just reached fever pitch. Because of two events: the County Fair and a hair appointment.

I'll start with the fair. The fair here is a BIG DEAL. One of the local counties lets their students out of school early just to go to the fair. People plan their lives around this thing. Me? I hate the thing. It smells bad, the ground is muddy so I have to wear sneakers with jeans (THE INHUMANITY!), the rides are manned by people who have, at best, 3rd grade educations. Seriously. Go to the fair and count teeth, folks. You'll end up in the double digits at best. ANYWAY, Gabby has talked for about 3 months about it. How all her friends are going, what rides she will ride, who broke their arm at the fair last year (hint: it was more than one person!), what they will wear. She informed us that she absolutely positively had to go on Wednesday because that is Ride Unlimited night (for the low, low price of $20 per kid) and that is when all her friends are going. We kind of tacitly agreed to take her. But then she has dance on Wednesday, so my husband quietly asked her if maybe it wouldn't be a better idea to go on Friday night. This is when we became The Enemy. In fact, some day, if Gabby develops, God forbid, some sort of addiction and we are all on Intervention, this is when the Black Screen of Judgement will come on and say, "When Gabby was 11, her father suggested she attend the Fair on a Friday. She wanted to attend on Wednesday. Things changed." She proceeded to tearfully recount why this is the WORST IDEA ANYONE HAS EVER HAD THAT DIDN'T INVOLVE INVADING RUSSIA DURING THE WINTER (my kids are interested in Napoleon lately for very strange reasons). We ended up having this huge Conversation where she ended up sobbing, I ended up biting my lips, and my husband ended up raising his voice and blinking a lot.

And the hair appointment. My daughter has very, very long hair. She loves it. No one else does. Along with it being very long, it is also thick, sometimes a bit coarse, and very easily tangled. We have tried all kinds of remedies on it--from Aussie Three Minute Miracle to Aveda smoothing glosses to Moroccan oil. It remains hard to deal with. However, when she was 7 years old, I got it cut right before picture day and she hated it, so she refuses to cut it more than an inch at a time. Because she is very busy with after school activities, and she is getting older, I can not honestly take it any more. So I made her an appointment for us both to go and have a girls beauty night out where we would both get our hair cut and then go out for dinner and hopefully have a grand old time. Except for the fact that when I told her about it (we had been talking about getting it cut for a while now), she threw one holy fit and said she would not get it cut shorter than about two inches off the end and that I would "RUIN [HER] LIFE" because she would be "SO UGLY." I was floored. Matt said that after that, I should just take her to a cheap place in Wal Mart and have it all chopped off. Uh, yeah, I'm not going to do that. The truth is, I don't know what to do. Any time I mention the appointment now, she cries. Like crazy. I have tried explaining that I'm not going to get it hacked off, that I am going to let the stylist find a great cut for her that will be shorter, but not necessarily short and that will work with her lifestyle. She doesn't want to hear it. She has started saying that Friday (the day of the appointment) will be the worst day of her life.

So I am utterly at a loss. I don't want to indulge her behavior, nor do I want to do something that will seriously upset her (i.e., taking her to Wal-Mart to hack off her her hair). We ended up letting her have her way with the fair (Matt and the kids are there as we speak--Al and I are chilling at home as Al does not like to have Guns and Roses' greatest hits blasted at her from all directions), and the whole afternoon, Matt has said, "We shouldn't be doing this." But we are. Because ultimately, I understand that a lot of this is hormonal. And because she is my baby, and I want her to be happy. But I worry. I don't want to be one of those moms that just indulges their child willy nilly and ends up with some sort of sociopathic crackhead (see Lohan, Lindsey). I want her to know there are limits to what we will do to insure her happiness, and I want her to know that those limits are in place for her own damn good. But it is hard. Parenting is hard. And it is hard not for all the reasons that people bitch and moan about. Yea, changing diapers is not that great (especially when your cloth diapered baby has recently discovered an obsession with grapes--ick), and kids are a bit expensive (although not as much as many people think with inventions like the internet and Craigslist and coupons and the like). But the real trouble happens when you just don't know what to do. When your head tells you to do one thing, but there stands the kid, and my God, she's so beautiful and you only have like seven more years with her before she goes to college and has some professor who tells her that you did everything wrong and that her parents are just horrible, horrible cogs in the patriarchal, post colonialistic, post modern hegemony-wheel. Sigh.

Anybody out there got a beer? Could you send it my way? Thanks.


  1. Oh wow, I totally got a flashback to when I was 11. Have you ever seen pics of my hair before I got my first pro haircut? I could sit on it. I was so proud of it but my mom was constantly trying to get it cut. And finally in 7th grade I relented because Tiffani Amber Theissen had a cut I liked. That was the only way my mom could get me to the salon. Well, the haircut was a disaster but I soon cut it off to a bob and ended up with hair around shoulder length (or shorter) then for the rest of my school days and loved it. I did sob hysterically when my Kelly Kapowski looked more like a member of Foreigner, but in the long run I survived and so did my mom.

    Man, I read these and think, Emerson doesn't even have hair to brush yet but I will blink and next thing I know she will be 11. :)

  2. You're such a funny writer! I love this post, reminds me of being a young pre-teen all over again :)