It appears that my girl child has settled for flying under the radar. Getting by and doing the bare minimum. Turning in a paper into which she put absolutely no effort. A failing grade. A paper she only mentioned in passing at home and I got to hear about at parent-teacher conferences.
I, being the calm and wise parent that I am, settled Girl Wonder at the kitchen table to have a little chat. At which point I flew into a pure D Italian hands a-flying angry mamma. And that is not a pretty thing. I yelled about the half truths I’d been getting. I yelled about all the chauffeuring I’d be doing (there has been so much of it lately I’m close to painting my truck yellow and sticking a taxi sign on the top). I yelled about the money I’ve spent on notebooks, soccer snacks, soccer parties, concert fees, and music lessons. I yelled about respect. I yelled about honesty. I yelled about hard work and integrity and trust. Which are all good things but not so much when they’re coming from a ticked off lady in stripey pajama pants, wearing pink slippers and waving a wooden spoon splattering tomato sauce everywhere.
She sat at the table. Wide eyed. Shameful. Teary.
I offered to let her pay rent, pay for groceries, gas and clothes. I spat out stories of living in a van down by the river, eating expired vienna sausages from a can and sleeping under a dumpster stained Snoopy sheet. This is what happens when you don’t care. When you give up. When you don’t believe in yourself. I waved my hands at the rusty blue van, tires sunk deep into riverbank mud, I’d conjured up in my maternal imagination. This! This!, I shouted, is where your going to end up! And I can’t save you from that. I can’t always pull your van from the mud!
She sat at the table. Crying. Hunched over. Right foot beating her frustration on the chair leg. And my anger snapped back at my face like a live wire. Jagged words. A spoon like a finger in the face. Volume and temper drowning out what I really meant.
I worry. I want you to see all the brilliance and brightness I see when you look in the mirror. I’m scared that you if you don’t dig deep and pour out all the awesomeness you have – you’ll end up like me. Unsure, dreaming without confidence and only climbing mountains in your mind. I think you’re worth a thousand gold stars.
And then I took a deep breath. Put down the spoon. Sat across from her at the table. Lowered my voice so she could hear my heart. And this is what I said (or at least something similar):
I love you. I want to help you. I mean what I said about honesty and integrity and having to work hard. I just didn’t say it right. You’re brain is big and mighty. And you should use it. Because not using it is like covering roses with rocks. There’s still awesomeness there but the world misses out on a chance to see something amazing. I believe in you. I care what happens to you. In a “I’ll slay the dragon, walk on hot coals and walk through a desert without water” kind of way. So you’re going to put on your big girl panties. You’re going to re-write that paper. You’re going to give 100%. And your paper will show it. And you’re going to believe that you can do it. If I have to duct tape you to the kitchen chair to make it happen.
Franny who mucked up her parenting job this week