“What’s that face about?”
Not surprisingly, she wouldn’t answer.
Still, I persisted.
“Come on. Tell me. Maybe I can help.”
Also not surprisingly, the result of my insistence on prying into the nature of her downturned mouth and razor-sharp glare was to reinforce her desire to clam up.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Did something happen at school?”
“I said I don’t want to talk about it.”
“On the bus?”
“Which part of “I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT” isn’t clear to you?”
“Is there something I can do?”
“Yes, you can NOT TALK ABOUT IT.”
Of course, to a parent, this is an impossible request. How could I NOT talk about this elephant she’d walked into the room on a leash woven from her woe-begotten demeanor? How could this beast she named “IT,” but refused to speak of again, not hijack the entirety of my attention? I had no idea what this IT was, but the mystery and not knowing was killing me.
Am I not her mother? Doesn’t she know my sole purpose on this Earth is to help guide her through the trials and tribulations of teenaged angst? Boiling frozen ravioli on demand is just a bonus.
I was once 14. Many, many, many, many, many ... many years ago.
“Yeah, but you were my age before the Internet, and Snapchat, and Pretty Little Liars.”
“Is it your friends? Middle school can be the worst age of all. You read ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid.’ You know.”
“That’s not at all helpful.”
It’s odd how we sometimes have perfect understanding without really saying a word.
Not that we haven’t had moments of misunderstanding.
Like the time I told her that she could always use me to get out of uncomfortable situations.
“You know ... if your friends pressure you to do something you don’t want to do, just blame me. Tell them I won’t let you date boys … or drive in cars with people I don't know.”
That seemed simple enough.
... Until she told one of her friends “Sorry, I can't go to your sleepover because my mom doesn't like one of the girls attending the party.”
“Why on earth would you say that?”
“You told me I could use you to get out of peer pressure situations.”
“Yeah, but this is not what I meant. You can blame me for general strictness, not for specific meanness.”
“You could have said 'I'm grounded' or 'my mom doesn't let me sleep over other people's houses' or even 'my mom is making us go to some lecture on the History of Walking as a Sport that day. Sorry'.”
Just as I realize my circular explanations of infuriating human behaviors tend to get tangled in the hairball of my thoughts on how to best address these rocky relationships.
“You know what I mean right?"
Translation: I’m lost in my own desire to help.
She shakes her head.
“Yeah, I get it.”
Translation: “Let’s not talk about this anymore.”