This evening while stealing away from Hope for a few minutes to get bottled water out of the car, I called Grammy to apologize for my tween self. It took 4 days for this kid to break me. Grammy howled, as she rightfully should.
I’d just come off of a ridiculous episode going to pick up movies from the Red Box for me and Hope. We slept in this morning and headed to a late brunch where Hope ordered the grossest thing on the menu, decided that she hated it and nibbled from my plate after I took pity on her. After brunch we both took naps, watched cartoons (none of which made any sense to me, and I’m convinced that Cartoon Network is partly responsible for the dumbing down of America) and picked out some movies to watch this evening.
She picked a movie, and I picked a movie. Then we walked to the store together to pick up them up. That’s when things jumped off.
“I told you to reserve Identity Thief!! Why are we getting this movie?” Hope was full of ATTITUDE. Where did that come from?
“What? We never even looked at Identity Thief. It never even came up. Nope, you said you wanted to see this movie (some random spring break themed movie). “
“No I didn’t. I want the other movie. Now! Put that one back and get the other one.” More attitude, including a neck roll, an eye roll and some base in her tween voice.
Say what now? Day four of a nice bonding experience, and Hope has begun the adolescent tripping. Deep in my bones, I know that the whole incident is probably a good thing: you know boundary exploration, how we respond to each other in a confrontation, all that normal parenting stuff.
But, aw, heck naw.
What you aren’t going to do is serve me all kinds of attitude, in public (or private for that matter) and think that I’m not checking for you. It’s not about being right; it’s about understanding our roles, and how we will talk to each other, especially when we are upset.
Little girl, you fittin’ to learn today.
“You did not pick Identity Thief. You chose this movie. We WILL watch this movie. I listened to you closely. You pointed to this movie. We clicked on it, read the description and you said, and I quote, “Yeah, let’s get that one.” Now maybe next time we can get the other movie, provided you actually choose it during the selection process. But let me be clear, the choices available to you will also be dependent on less attitude from you—verbal and non-verbal. I adore you, but please don’t mistake me for a punk because I love you so much.”
Hope’s face when from shock to stone cold shut-down in about 30 seconds. The transition to cold-shoulder sulking was swift. I asked if she wanted to pick up dinner from the hot bar. Mumbled no. I asked if she wanted a Coke. Another mumbled no. Starbucks frappe? Nope. She finally, after much coaxing, settled on a juice drink, and we walked back to the hotel in silence.
I was a mixture of surprise, exasperation, and “did I go too far?” I was reminded that this is the kind of stuff that makes you a parent. You’ll get it right sometimes, other times you’ll stumble. You just try and hope that you don’t screw up too badly and that your kid gets the point. I didn’t care about the movie so much as the attitudinal response to her perceiving that she didn’t get her way.
So, that’s how I found myself in the parking lot carrying several bottles of water with my mom laughing at me from 3,000 miles away.
Shortly after I returned from my water run, Hope initiated conversation again, and we moved on like it never happened. She asked me to help her with an origami box, and we talked about hair. Later when she brought up again how “I” made a mistake at the Red Box, I reminded her how it really went down and declared that line of conversation closed. She raised her eyebrows like, “For reals?” and I laid my one eyebrow raise on her with the confirmation that yeah, “For reals, conversation closed.”
We then watched the selected movie, enjoyed it and followed up by reading our book aloud until she went to bed. I got a hug and kiss good-night and all is well in ABM’s world. Crisis averted, for now.
I love this kid.