Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Ungrateful Child

This morning began like most. I wrangled my preteen from her precious slumber about four hours earlier than she would have liked and began my usual morning dialog that she listened to with her eyes still closed. She was probably still asleep. "Here's your uniform, your shoes are downstairs, get dressed, it's already 7:20, we need to leave, so hurry up." Ten minutes later, I would shout from midway up the stairs: "You'd better be up!" and she'd return a muffled, "I'm coming" that I knew meant she was still in bed, face down, where I left her.

It's teacher appreciation week at our school and since I dropped the ball yesterday and forgot to send in flowers (as outlined by the woman in charge of how we should show our appreciation), I mixed up some cookie dough last night, baked a double batch, found an idea for a card on Pinterest (from my friend Tracy), and put together some bags of oatmeal/chocolate chunk cookies to make up for the flower-less Monday.

After the cookies cooled and I had them bagged and tagged, I placed them into a small basket for my girl to take to school this morning. She took a look at the tags before she went to bed and mentioned that she doesn't like being called Amelia. That Mia would have been better. I tried not flipping her the bird as she sauntered upstairs.

This morning, we also had to remember the bag of coins to donate to the American Cancer Society fundraiser, the envelope of gift cards for the Teacher Appreciation drawing, and the $5 for pizza lunch on Thursday. As we were driving to school, she huffed and growled at having to deal with so much stuff in addition to her backpack and lunch box and, under her breath, she made a snarky comment again about the tags. This time I think it was in reference to the 'being so sweet' line, and it took all my willpower not to reach over, unbuckle her seat belt, and give the brakes a robust tap. Actually, if it weren't for the dog perched on the console between us, I might have done it.

I responded by launching into a speech about how she had no idea what it must be like for some children whose mothers do nothing for them, who don't even show them they're loved. I stopped short of telling her that if I felt she'd survive without physical harm, I'd gladly drop her in the deepest slum of Dallas or Ft. Worth for a few days to see how other kids survive with so very little. It's a scenario I've plotted many times in my brain.

And then part of me thinks that maybe this is more about me. She didn't ask for me to bake cookies for her teachers. I don't have to wash her laundry, make her lunch, fix her breakfast, lay out her clothes, or even remind her to bathe and brush her teeth. Eventually she will get hungry and stinky enough that she'll do it herself. She doesn't have to have a cell phone, a Kindle, five pairs of shoes, contacts and glasses, and horse riding lessons. She can survive and thrive on much less. She needs food, love, shelter, medical care, an education, church and books. And a dog.

My mission going forward is to help her grow independent from me. And if she can somehow view me as someone who is loving and giving toward others, then that's an added bonus. Maybe the next time I bake cookies for her teachers, the tag will read: Thank you for tolerating my daughter! ♥ Pamela 

Maybe next time she'll think to bake them herself. Even better.

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