It is a peaceful morning at the Cowboy’s ranch.
The sun is shining. There is a slight breeze blowing. No tv or music playing.
It is just quiet.
My daughter and I a few minutes ago, sat down to the coffee, bacon and waffles the Cowboy made for us before leaving for an appointment.
We had slept in, rolling in early this morning after a much later departure than I had hoped for last night.
This is the start to our spring break this year ..
Well, I wish this were the start. I like this start better. We are instead going this morning, with .. the ‘do-over’ I wrote about a few posts ago.
“Mom, can I have a hug,” my daughter asks as we were still lying in bed this morning.
She’s lying on her side, looking at me with one eye. The other eye is buried in her pillow. We are mirroring each other in that respect.
I give her a hug. “I love you, honey..” I say.
The hug rounds out one of the first big fights we have ever had.
Well, actually, that she had with me last night as we were trying to get the car packed and actually get out of town. I had a long time on the drive here last night to think about what set it all off. And, we’ve talked about it since. But ..
This was truly the first, and quite honestly, impressive (not in a good way) rant I’ve seen from her.
Normally we might have some pouting. Some name calling. Some assertiveness and being bossy. She hasn’t been terrible about that. She’s usually a pretty great kid and under control. But this was a no good knock down drag out throw every nasty name in the book and do what I can to hurt mom kind of fight. That was before the threats to throw yogurt all over the car (I almost doubled over laughing about the thought of that one as she threatened while I put gas in the car), dump my coffee (gasp! she knows my weak spot) and pinch me as hard as she could.
The “I don’t love you anymore I just want my dad the rest of my life and I wish you were never born,” kind of fight.
And it all started with me simply asking her to clean the cats litter boxes before we left.
“I tried,” she fussed at me, as I went to pour in more fresh litter and discovered there was still a lot to be cleaned.
I went to look for the scooper.
It was hiding in a corner, freshly snapped in two.
“Child (insert name)?” I ask .. “How did the scoop get broken? Did that just happen?”
“No. And .. It just broke,” she replied.
“It didn’t ‘just break‘ honey, what happened? We have others coming to care for the cats and now the scoop is broke?” I say, increasingly frustrated at this point. Frustrated my child (my fault at this point) isn’t better at handling a few simple chores. And that we’re not already on the road.
“Why are you being so mean to me,” she asks.
I try and take stock of how I’m talking to her .. thinking, uh oh, did I push her too far? Am I that frustrated trying to get out the door I’m taking it out on her? Or, is it that I’m holding her accountable for one of two relatively simple tasks she’d rather not do, that’s has her so upset. But it’s too late. She’s in a full fledged rage, screaming bloody murder as she scoops the last of the clumps out of the litter box with half a scoop saying she doesn’t want to go with me now, and just wants her dad. I keep doing what I’m doing, trying to stay focused and let her have this moment, hoping meanwhile that the neighbors aren’t getting concerned something else more traumatic is going on. Next thing I know she’s unpacking all of her things from the car. And on the phone. To dad.
Now.. thank goodness he and I are in a place where .. even in divorce .. this no longer even remotely pits the two of us against each other. If anything, her growing up and trying to play either of us has us talking and getting along better than we perhaps ever have. And he knows she has called me at the slightest point of upset on his end. It’s good to know we’ve got each others backs here.
(If I have learned anything important to pass along through my own divorce, it’s that .. if there is even a chance as a mom or dad you can present a united front .. despite separate homes, it makes a huge difference. Not always in the moment, but in the big picture. That’s for just about anything that may come up.)
But it was brutal. For quite some time. I let her keep going with it and ignored her for the most part, wondering how long she might keep it up. And I was generally impressed with the steady stream of insanity that flowed from her healthy vocal chords. I didn’t realize she had that in her to be honest. At a few times I had to hold back a smile. Which upset her even more.
It only ended as we were finally on the road about 20 minutes from home and she was furious I hadn’t started to cry. My 10-year-old took off her seatbelt and threatened to open the door and jump out because it would be better than staying in the car with me. And then she went for the gear shift and power button. (Yes, my car has a power button.)
It was time to put this to an end.
She begged me to stop so that she could go to the bathroom and I told her that was perfect because she had gone on long enough and I was concerned now about both our safety. And lucky for us, I knew that State Patrol headquarters was right next to the string of restaurants and gas stations we were heading for.
“If you can’t get this under control for yourself,” I said .. “perhaps we need to go and talk with the police. Because I’m worried you’re going to hurt either yourself or both of us and can’t let you do that.”
Snap. She’s out of it.
“Are you hungry?” I ask.
We pull up to Culver’s and get out.
“I’m so sorry, mommy…..” she says as she walks around the front of the car toward me offering her arms for a hug.
“I think it’s puberty. I’m pretty sure that’s why I’m doing this. Can I have some ice cream?”
I pray this is not a regular occasion.
But I also know, I gave my own parents a few doozies when I was her age. Probably not to the extent I got last night, because I knew there would be a hand on my face at the first utter of some of the words she chose last night or a hand mark on my behind. But I’m sure my words at that time, cut close.
I’m not proud of that.
In fact, and my daughter and I have talked about this already this morning. If I have any regrets from a life otherwise well lived .. it is that I ever said some of the things I did to my parents. That I know had to have stung .. just a bit. In particular, to my own mother.
She used to say .. “I can hardly wait until you have your own kids…” with a smile on her face.
I am learning, day by day .. what she meant..
It is still quiet here at the ranch this now Saturday afteroon.
The dishes are cleared and put away after a late brunch..
And I’ve had a few wonderful moments to sit and write again after a chaotic week…
I can hear the truck coming up the drive ..
The Cowboy is has returned.
And we’re going outside to learn how to ride a bike ..
Which, she also doesn’t want do.
Let’s see how this one goes..