Argument


It’s a gorgeous first day of spring.  Seventy-five degrees, with a gentle breeze that carries on it the perfumes of the budding trees and flowers. A girl approaches with her camera and snaps a close-up of a cherry blossom.  The clouds are etched into the blue background of the sky.  Here and there, though, darker clouds muscle their way to the front.  And far over there, in the western horizon, the sky is a cake, layered in white clouds of frosting so thick that no blue can get through.

My daughter crosses her arms.  “Every girl in my class is going on senior week.”

“You’re not.” 

She demands to know why.

I have no ready answer.  It just feels wrong.  I return to my own childhood, the way my parents raised me, a place I often retreat to when I need parenting advice.  “Some things should be saved for college.”

“You can’t stop me,” she tells me.  “I’ll be eighteen.”


I tell her she’s right.  I tell her perhaps she should look into an apartment; perhaps she should pay for her college tuition on her own.

I hate these arguments in which she is pulling away and I am holding her close, not, as she believes, because I don’t trust her, but because I know all that can go wrong.  And I don’t know how to navigate this next step in parenting, the letting go part.

I head outside to attack my flowerbeds.  I yank mums that have strayed onto the path that winds through my perennial garden.  I cut back brave daylilies making a path of their own.  I dig up wayward ivy.  I wonder if I’m trying to control my daughter as much as I’m trying to control my garden.  I wonder whether I should just let the bed go; grow in its own way; accept it as it is.

I wonder how to let my daughter go. 

I consult other parents, trying to garner support for my position.  But ultimately, the decision is my husband’s and mine.

I do not yet know which is the right decision.

She asks if we can discuss it.

I tell her she’s going to try to convince us; to try to change my mind.   “My mind is made up,” I tell her.

“You’re going to try to change my mind too,” she tells me.  Again, she brings out the argument.  “I’ll be eighteen.  I can do what I want.”

I think of all the dangers.  I think of the excess.  I think in five short months, she’ll be in college, making her own decisions.

In five short months, she’ll be making her own decisions.

She softens her tone.  “What if I went for just a couple of days?”

I look to the sky, as if I can discern the answers there.

Sometimes parenting can be a gray cloud upon a darkened sky.

Sometimes answers are etched with perfect clarity.

And sometimes, parenting is a beautiful cake, lovingly layered in thick white frosting, sweet and good.


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Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Argument

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Argument


It’s a gorgeous first day of spring.  Seventy-five degrees, with a gentle breeze that carries on it the perfumes of the budding trees and flowers. A girl approaches with her camera and snaps a close-up of a cherry blossom.  The clouds are etched into the blue background of the sky.  Here and there, though, darker clouds muscle their way to the front.  And far over there, in the western horizon, the sky is a cake, layered in white clouds of frosting so thick that no blue can get through.

My daughter crosses her arms.  “Every girl in my class is going on senior week.”

“You’re not.” 

She demands to know why.

I have no ready answer.  It just feels wrong.  I return to my own childhood, the way my parents raised me, a place I often retreat to when I need parenting advice.  “Some things should be saved for college.”

“You can’t stop me,” she tells me.  “I’ll be eighteen.”


I tell her she’s right.  I tell her perhaps she should look into an apartment; perhaps she should pay for her college tuition on her own.

I hate these arguments in which she is pulling away and I am holding her close, not, as she believes, because I don’t trust her, but because I know all that can go wrong.  And I don’t know how to navigate this next step in parenting, the letting go part.

I head outside to attack my flowerbeds.  I yank mums that have strayed onto the path that winds through my perennial garden.  I cut back brave daylilies making a path of their own.  I dig up wayward ivy.  I wonder if I’m trying to control my daughter as much as I’m trying to control my garden.  I wonder whether I should just let the bed go; grow in its own way; accept it as it is.

I wonder how to let my daughter go. 

I consult other parents, trying to garner support for my position.  But ultimately, the decision is my husband’s and mine.

I do not yet know which is the right decision.

She asks if we can discuss it.

I tell her she’s going to try to convince us; to try to change my mind.   “My mind is made up,” I tell her.

“You’re going to try to change my mind too,” she tells me.  Again, she brings out the argument.  “I’ll be eighteen.  I can do what I want.”

I think of all the dangers.  I think of the excess.  I think in five short months, she’ll be in college, making her own decisions.

In five short months, she’ll be making her own decisions.

She softens her tone.  “What if I went for just a couple of days?”

I look to the sky, as if I can discern the answers there.

Sometimes parenting can be a gray cloud upon a darkened sky.

Sometimes answers are etched with perfect clarity.

And sometimes, parenting is a beautiful cake, lovingly layered in thick white frosting, sweet and good.


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2 Comments:

At March 28, 2012 at 7:47 PM , Anonymous Elizabeth Young said...

I sure sympathize with you! If I had a dollar for every difficult conversation I've had with my children I would be a rich woman, and the beat goes on..... I found Brenda Moguez's Grrrl Guide post very helpful this week, the link is on my blog if you're interested in reading it, it really helped me a lot and I had a definite 'eureka' moment. If you're as desperate as I am you'll take all the help you can get! Hang in and trust your gut instinct, lose that and you're sunk. Remember also that the other kids are watching to see what this daughter gets away with and will be more than happy to read it back to you when they reach the same age!
www.bethanywrites.com

 
At March 30, 2012 at 7:37 AM , Anonymous jaum said...

I wonder if few have posted because the unresolved conflict strikes too close to everyone's life. I loved the philosophical way you end this blog. (last four sentences)

 

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