Our daughter was skipping merrily about the basement while my husband and I rearranged totes on shelves and cleaned house. In a sing-song voice she chanted “I sorry. I very very sorry. I sorry. I very very sorry.”
“What are you sorry for?” my husband asked.
My daughter stopped and grinned a big Cheshire cat grin. “You’ll see.” And then she skipped merrily along again.
Now, if she had indeed committed some act that was deserving of repentance, my husband and I did not discover it. I suspect though, she was merely preparing us for her teenage years.
She’s three. Going on thirteen. As I wrote last week, she is testing every boundary, thoroughly.
This week we had the misfortune of a meltdown in a local restaurant, which resulted in a “time out” in the ladies room. I do not know what perceived trauma caused the meltdown, but as I sat with her in the ladies room counting quietly for her time out, she told me emphatically to “Go away!”
I laughed, and as I laughed I couldn’t help but think that as frustrated as I was with her behavior, I just simply loved this little upset girl who was struggling against me.
“Dear. I’m your mother, and I will not go away. I am like a bad apple that just keeps turning up. As a matter of fact, your teenage years will go considerably more smoothly if you just surrender right now.”
With that remark one of the other ladies in the restroom started laughing.
We laughed. But it’s no laughing matter. I’m her mother; I love her, and she is stuck with me. My husband is her daddy; he loves her, and she is stuck with him.
So here is an open promise to our daughter:
We promise to meet your teachers at the beginning of the school year, to go to parent/teacher conferences, and make sure you do your homework.
We’ll probably get to know the principal and other school staff and administrators too.
We promise to turn off the TV and the computer and chase you outside to play.
We promise to play in the dirt with you: to plant flowers and vegetables and watch them grow with you.
We promise to learn your friends’ names and meet their parents.
We promise to encourage to you reach for your dreams.
We promise to teach you how to earn what is worthwhile in life.
We promise to help you find Little Star every night.
We promise to encourage you to do difficult things.
We promise to make sure that one of us knows where you are every hour of every day.
We promise that your father and I (particularly your father) will personally meet and greet any young man who comes to pick you up for a date.
We promise that if you come home late you will be greeted by the sound of angrily clicking knitting needles (if I haven’t already convinced the Governor to mobilize the National Guard—don’t underestimate me),
And I promise that the sound of those needles will haunt you for the rest of your teenage years.
We promise that, while your father and I will not allow you to escape the consequences of bad decisions, we will help you through them to the best of our ability.
We promise to “have your back” if anyone tries to hurt you.
We promise that we will not hesitate to ground you for life, take away your cell phone, driving privileges or whatever else is fitting if your conduct warrants it.
We promise that you can come to us with any question or problem you have, and we will help you.
We cannot promise that you will always like the help we give.
Most of all, we promise that you will always, always have a place in our hearts and that we will always love you.
© 2010 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.