1. Having to dress shop at the mall on Monday for 2+ hours because your daughter “needs a new dress because every girl in my class is wearing one on Wednesday”. She will have to check every single “cool” store first, before actually finding a dress in the store you suggested in the first place. You will also have to make the requisite stop at Starbucks for some type of Strawberry concoction. She will be mad at you because you will not let her get a coffee because she is 12, and you don’t see how a 12 year old needs coffee. She will let the cat out of the bag that she orders coffee when she goes to the mall with her friends, and then stare at the floor. She will give the barista a fake name when she orders her drink, and when you ask her why she did that, she will reply in a whispered tone “Mommm. It’s not cool to give them your real name! Everyone knows that!” She will grin like a champ when they yell her fake name when her drink is ready for pick-up.(For the record, you are the only people in the store, and they still yell.) She will get in the car and take the perfect selfie of her and her Starbucks drink with her fake name prominently displayed and will post it to Instagram. She will spend the drive home telling you how many “likes” she got on that one.
2. Having to leave work yesterday for 20 minutes to run home and drive your daughter to school because someone (Mom) accidentally put the dryer setting on low and the yoga pants she HAS TO wear to gym did not dry in time for school. She will text you at work 7 minutes before the bus is coming to let you know this. No, she cannot wear something else to school! Your daughter will beg and plead to stay home, but that isn’t happening. When you are driving her to school you will hear all about how she has now missed gym but is wearing the yoga pants anyway because that was her chosen outfit for school and she knows you would have been mad if you got home and she didn’t have them on. (She is correct on that one!) Also, she will tell you that because of the dryer mishap this is her first time being tardy in 7 years of school. The streak is broken and she will be upset about it. (Tardiness is a catastrophe that you are unaware of), and now because it is after 9:00, she will not be able to sit with her class at the assembly that is occurring, because she is tardy for that too. All of this will be your fault. You will drive back to work thinking about the million times she has made you tardy for work over the past 7 years. At 3:20 pm, she will come home smiling and say that she was glad she didn’t stay home because she had a great day, but will still be upset at the tardiness marring her permanent record. She will then grab a snack and go up to her room to blast music and scan Instagram for anything she has missed in the last 6 hours, as well as to see if there are anymore likes on her Starbucks selfie.
3. Having to get out of your pj’s on your sick day (there’s no such thing for a Mom) because you HAVE TO drive a very specific outfit over to your daughter’s school (after a series of panicked laden texts, which she is doing while hiding face first in her locker, because phones at school are a bigger no-no than tardiness) because the dress that you spent two hours shopping for, and that she looks so beautiful in is ITCHY…VERY, VERY ITCHY and she “can’t take it for another minute”. When you get there, the secretary will want to know how you know your daughter needs a new outfit if she isn’t in the nurse’s office because they’re not supposed to have phones in school. You will reply that your daughter is 12, 12 is a fun age, and you are part psychic with a $hit-eating grin on your ugly, sick face. The secretary will look less than amused at your answer and will make “the face” at the other secretary who is sitting there listening to your conversation. You will then stand there awkwardly pretending to read the bulletins hanging on the wall while you wait for your daughter in the itchy dress to make her way down to the office. It will feel like an hour, but probably will only be about a 3 minute wait.
4. Your daughter will finally come down to the office to get her specified clothes and will actually give you an unexpected heartfelt thank you for bringing that in, will hug your arm, and tell you that she hopes you get some rest…and you won’t be annoyed anymore. In fact, you will smile as you drive back home.
Yes, that’s what having a daughter is like. (God bless my friends that have more than one!)
When you’re a parent, you hope for a lot of things for your child. You hope your child will be born healthy. You hope your child will grow up happy. You hope your child will be smart and self-confident. You hope that whatever is thrown their way in life, your child will come out of it on the other side better and stronger because of it. You hope your child will turn out to have a life better than yours. You hope that when your child goes out in the world all of those little lessons you taught him or her stick and they do the right things…especially when you’re not looking. You do the best that you can as a parent, but in the end, you do “hope” a lot.
Today, I got to smile at one of my “hopes” coming back to me.
As I set out to pick my daughter up from her after-care program at school, I texted her and said “On my way. Be there in five minutes. Be ready please”. In return, I got her typical “K” response. (Yes, she still does that to me daily.) When I got there, I could see her on the far side of the room, seated with two other kids, playing a game. When I finally got her attention, she gave me her “just a minute” gesture, and I had to stand there making idle chit-chat with the ladies who run the program. That “just a minute” was more like five minutes, and I could feel myself getting antsy because I had things to do. As she finally gets up from the table, I see her pat the boy she was sitting next to on the back as she says goodbye, but I didn’t think anything of it.
When we get in the car, I say “How come you weren’t ready to go today?”, and then I get the whole story. It turns out that she was seated at the table with a boy she has known since she was three years old, whom she went to preschool with. He has Autism. He is beyond smart, but socially and behaviorally, he struggles.When she was three, she had a hard time understanding him but it didn’t take her long to get it and accept it. He has come an incredibly long way since he was three, and I smile whenever I see him because his progress is quite amazing. The problem is other kids, especially those who don’t really know him, don’t quite “get” him or his outbursts. Luckily, my daughter does…and she has always been his friend.
She tells me that the reason she wasn’t ready is because she was sitting with her friend playing a game. She said that this is what she does every time she goes to aftercare and he is there, so he doesn’t have to sit alone or get picked on by other kids. Then she launches into a mini-tirade about how she hates when other kids tease him, and how she sticks up for him…even if he’s not around. She tells the other kids that they are ridiculous and maybe if they would stop for a second and get to know or understand him or his disability, then they’d be ashamed of how they have treated him. (She also throws in lines like “By the way, he’s super smart. Maybe he’s just too smart for you!” Atta girl!!) She proudly tells me that the other kids are finally starting to leave him alone, especially when she’s with him, and she says it in such a staunch manner that I want to stop the car and hug her as tight as I can. Instead, I pat her on the leg and tell her that I am proud of her for being a good person with a good heart. I tell her that I am proud that she stands up for others, even if it goes against “popular” opinion, because she’s saying what’s “right”…and I drive the rest of the way home with a smile on my face, hiding the tears in my eyes behind my sunglasses.
I have to say, in the past 11 years I have been there to see plenty of things my daughter has done that have made me proud…but one of the things I am most proud of is what she did today and what she has been doing…when I wasn’t looking.