Even before a carpet of white landed with a thud on our elongated spring, my daughter had been snowed-in for days. Tethered to a mountain of quilts with unlimited access to WIFI, she had hunkered down in her room like a weather-weary ground hog.
She ventured out for meals (if you can call scrounging the kitchen for snacks "meals"); and phone calls; and twice-daily showers, one of which served to provide deep-conditioning treatments for her ever-lengthening locks and to clog up the drain with aforementioned "gunk."
I don't want to give you the impression she is self-sufficient.
She'd find me and make requests for provisions. We are out of celery! And shrimp! And those chips that taste like bacon!
I smile a tight little smile and lift my shoulders and hands in unison. "Oh well …"
I try to give her space.
Time ticks forward. Her brother takes up her space with a double volume of noise.
But every now and again I miss her voice and pre-teen presence (as shocking as it seems,) so I wander into dangerous territory to make contact.
I stood by her door and listen for sounds of life.
Mostly I hear teenaged voices narrating the opening of packages and the excited recitation of the things that are within. I gather she is watching videos, and has been for hours.
She scoots over when I walk in, clearing room for me to sit down. She shifts her tablet to the center. For better viewing.
"OOOOH ... this is AHHHHHHMAZING! I love the colour!!!!" A disembodied voice says from behind the camera.
I gag at the pronunciation of European spelling.
Or maybe the sour taste in my mouth was from the flavor of bacon macaroni-cheese potato chips she had offered if I'd just close my eyes and open.
It all leads me to believe that most of what we think of as growing up might be based on a dare.
But she doesn't expect me to understand ... Because I am old. And set in my ways. And have no need for make-up to accentuate my otherwise ghastly appearance.
I've peeked over her shoulder on occasion and found bubbly blondes in blemish-free surroundings gushing out superlatives.
“What am I watching?” I ask my daughter.
She just points to the screen, and, as if on cue, the vlogger explained:
“The rule was that we could send each other ten cosmetics that would cost a total of about $25 … or we could send more or less. Or it could cost more or less … it depended on the translation of the dollar … or something. I don't know. I'm so exCITEed!!!!”
I look at her. My tight little smile returns.
She looks at me. Her eyes prime for a full summersault.
"I just don't understand. Do people really enjoy watching other people open boxes and describing the contents? It seems like watching paint dry."
She just smiles my tight little smile and lifts her shoulders and hands in unison. "Oh well ..."
Are we at an impasse?
Is shutting off the internet all I have left at my disposal?
I think not.
I pull out my phone ... and in seconds I find her.
A pretty girl, sans makeup, giving a tutorial about how to make backpacks for Syrian refugees using three tools and yards of reclaimed materials out of the rafts they swept in on.
It's just a small thing. But it makes a big impact.
"See ... this is a girl thinking outside of the box."