We have TWO children, really.

Sometimes people ask me why TeenHer doesn’t get monthly letters, and isn’t the star of many stories on the web log. I want to assure you that her absence from the spotlight isn’t because she never does anything funny or worth retelling. You see, the thing about ToddlerA is that she’s a baby, and therefore as yet incapable of being humiliated or offended by me turning her life into a big joke and splaying it all over the Internet.

That, and interaction with TeenHer lately often leaves both of us plotting imaginative ways to dismember people.

Isn’t that how you know you really love someone?

It’s puberty. Puberty is the elephant in the room. Puberty is payback. Puberty is purgatory. For all of us, don’t get me wrong; I remember with painful clarity how much puberty sucks. So you’d think I would be able to hold back a little; be more understanding and compassionate. You’d think I wouldn’t want to break dishes every single time I get that snappy retort or blank stare while I’m giving a lecture on the importance of putting ALL the dishes in the dishwasher when you clean up the kitchen, not just the ones you yourself have touched. It would stand to reason, having been a tween once myself, having gone through the angst and ridicule and insecurity and inner conflict that is puberty, that as a parent I would be solidly equipped to deal. I rehearse. I do deep breathing. I channel my anger into other things (hi, Internet!). Poor kid, so does she! We practice coping skills. We take breaks and count to 10.

But none of that matters when your baby who is now bigger than you stares you down or worse, screams at YOU for getting mad at her because she didn’t (pick one)x x or x. None of that matters when the realization comes crashing down on your old, fuddy-duddy, uncool, boring, mean head that this child doesn’t fit in your arms anymore. That now she is out there, on her own, and you can’t protect her. Not even from puberty.

So to answer your questions, Internet-yes we do love our first born, so much that sometimes I think I might simply die of emotion when I think about what our journey has been like, and when I allow myself that 5-count of fear to imagine all the ways that she might be taken from us.

For now, I respect her private wish to be invisible because she is 12 and doesn’t yet understand how incredibly funny it was when she had that crazy rash on her leg, or the way she flutters her eyelids involuntarily when she’s lying.

But you really should have seen that rash.

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