Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Change... but not too quickly
Our kitchen has an island, which in many homes equates extra counter space. It's an area which some families might use for meal preparation, baking - for whatever normal people use an extra expanse of counter. In our home, the island is where our junk congregates. Mail and newspapers, wrappers, receipts and various bits of paper gather to bask in the glory of our many, hydro-sucking pot lights. Last week, I decided to tackle the piles of debris in a long overdue attempt at creating order-without (y'know, because they say that's the first step to order-within).
The standard tidy-up routine consists of sorting each piece of crap into new piles according to owner. Wolf's, Kitten's, Mom's, the landlord's and garbage. I took my crap and Wolf's crap to our room and put Kitten's crap outside her bedroom door (where it would stay for several more days) and had in my hand a bunch of crap for the garbage. As I made my way back across the living room, I became hyper aware of one item in my hand. It was a piece of Pale green paper, folded many times so it resembled a flattened tube. I'm a chronic checker (let me just make sure I have my keys... for the third time) which means I cannot throw anything out without first reading it. What if it's important? I unfolded the paper - a 4" square sheet of origami paper, coloured only on one side - and held in my hands one of the sweetest and slightly-less-innocent-than-I-would-have-liked love note. It was signed, in cursive, by the young man who enlivened our home for two and a half days, three weeks ago.
I took a few days to panic and obsess about it before I told Kitten we had to chat. I told her that I'd used variations of a particular parental quip on many occasions but that I had to amend it. In the past, I've said, "You know you can talk to me about anything?" and "I want you to talk to me about whatever!" This time, I said, "Communication is imperative. I need you to talk to me and you need me to talk to you. Because the only other option is for me to assume." I don't like being blindsided. It tends to tweak my anxiety and I get a bit crazy. The chat ended up being more of a mom-ologue (which I tend to be completely blind to, in the moment).
When Wolf arrived home, I brought the whole thing to him. Typical man, he said, "So, what did she tell you?" Allow me to take this moment to look sheepish.
He called Kitten. She arrived with her typical, "Yes, Daddy?" and the conversation truly began.
Wolf: Mom showed me the note.
Kitten: (deer-in-headlights-I'm-trying-to-look-innocent look)
Wolf: Is [he] your boyfriend?
Me: What does that mean?
Kitten: (deer-in-headlights-what-the-hell-are-you-asking-me look)
Wolf: Since when?
Kitten: Since I was eight.
Wolf: Have you kissed him?
Wolf: Have you kissed any boys?
Kitten: Only you, Dad.
Me: So what does boyfriend/girlfriend mean to you?
Kitten: We hold hands.
It was a decent conversation. She's at the tail end of twelve and while there's a huge, screaming part of me that insists she's too young to be using the word boyfriend, I also know that there's nothing I can do about it. She was born into a family which boasts stubborn strength of conviction, for good or for ill. She will do what she will do out from under our watchful eyes*.
I spent a few more days lamenting the death of my 'baby girl' ("If drama was money, I'd be a millionaire" - Kitten) and then it snowed.
Due to recent extremely dire financial straits and a kid who doesn't complain, Kitten needed footwear. She's worn her runners folded at the heel almost since the day she got them. As a result, pinchy-toes have never been an issue. Snow is and there was no way I was letting her play in the snow with her heels hanging out of the backs of her shoes. So, Kitten got her first pair of grown up winter boots. She loved them so much she put them on at the till.
We had one more stop before heading home and I parked in a snow drift. Kitten leaped out of the truck as soon as Wolf had cleared the door. Off she tromped through the parking lot bent on trying out her new boots.
I watched her, independent and self assured, with my heart heavy. And then... I smiled. There was my daughter, a breath away from thirteen, climbing the biggest pile of snow in the lot. She thew her hands into the air and crowed her success at the mountain's summit. And she's still my Kitten.
*which means she must stay under our watchful eyes until we're confident in her strength of character!