Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Carved in Wood and in Her Heart

In my oldest daughter's bedroom sits a wooden dresser. It has been painted countless times over the years, and it has seen me through childhood and adolescence and now houses the clothes of my own girls.

This weekend I was organizing the clothes for winter, storing the summer clothes and cleaning out the girls' drawers. When I emptied the top sock drawer, I smiled. Etched in ballpoint pen on the wooden base of the drawer is the careful I Love Brandon. I wrote that 25 years ago, and to this day, I can remember how strong my crush was on this boy. For two years I was his friend, and watched in agony as a girlfriend of mine "went" with him (do you remember? "Will you go with me? Circle yes, no, or maybe"). I remember being transfixed by the way his shoulder blades moved through his t-shirt when he would use his pencils as drumsticks on the top of his desk. On the last day of school, our junior high homeroom teacher awarded two leadership awards, one for a boy and one for a girl. Brandon and I were chosen, and I recall feeling the happiest I'd ever felt as an angst-ridden pre-teen.

I scooped the rest of the socks out of the drawer, and underneath my memory-rich scrawl was another message. In writing nearly the same as my own, I read I Love Jake. I smiled. My oldest, in seventh grade, is nearly the same age I was when I wrote my declaration of love. My smile faded, though, as I thought of how she must feel. The difference between my daughter and me at this age is vast. She is lovely. She is ethereal and flawless and has absolutely no idea how stunning she is, only that she hates that she doesn't look like her friends. If Bob and I were the type of parents to allow our daughters to "go" with a boy at this age, she would likely be with this boy. But we're not. Remember, she has good reason to believe that we're conspiring to "turn her Amish." Our hard and fast rule is no dating until junior year in high school, as long as NHS grades are maintained and at least one activity per semester. This may as well be a hundred years away for our daughter.

Then, last night, as I clacked away on my computer in my office, I felt a presence outside my door. I looked up to see tears running from crystal green eyes, her blond head shaking in the hall light. She is filled with anguish that this boy she "loves" is dating a friend of hers. Worse, this so-called friend is filled with glee that she has something my daughter doesn't, and makes efforts to point this out during school as often as she can.

I listened as she poured out her heart, both thrilled that she trusted me and miserable with my inability to fix things. I thought of how mediocre this friend of hers is, how she will likely become like her family, scratching away a life with little purpose, flat expressions on all their faces, apathy toward children that need to be supervised and guided. This little girl is "lucky" because she basically raises herself and her younger brother. The level of independence and lack of supervision is stunning. She is rough, with thick features, a mean streak, and always looks dirty to my mom-vision. She is one of the most popular girls in the class.

I want to tell my daughter this. I want to tell her this young girl will likely peak in a few years, and that she will forget her pain of the moment and go on to have a wonderful life (I hope, oh how I hope). I want to be mean-spirited myself and predict teen pregnancy for this girl, or STDs or a future of housecleaning. But I don't. I just look at my daughter and then hold her and murmur, "It will get better sweetie. I promise."

My heart hurts. But probably not as badly as hers.

34 comments:

Noe said...

:(
I understand her pain... and also yours.

Mary Alice said...

Ahh, Jen - that was beautiful. It does tear us apart to see the same painful situation, but now from two different perspectives...that initial childlike perspective and now the perspective of a mother. I remember my own mother once saying under her breath, something about early bloomers, going to seed early as well - I remember thinking she must be crazy, muttering sentences that made absolutely no sense........sometimes it just takes a few years to understand things.

Joanie said...

Thou shalt not post things of this nature when I am premenstrual. Please keep a calendar with this information next to you computer for your immediate and constant reference. I am off to find kleenex now......

Sarcasta-Mom said...

Awwww. I dread the day my daughter grows up enough to fall in love. I can't imagine how frustrating it must be to stand by and not be able to go lock her little friend in a closet somewhere. lol

KC said...

Oh wow, parenting gets harder doesn't it? What a difficult position to be in -her and you. When "love" at that age is so underdeveloped but so very real. And having the vantage of seeing a better future for her.

slouching mom said...

Oh, that's just so hard. Sigh. Why are mean girls always popular, anyway?

Circus Kelli said...

I had a couple of those crushes myself... oh, how my heart hurts when a hug and kiss from Mom can't right what's wrong.

MamaLee said...

And it taskes me right back. there is nothing like a young heartache.

I'm sure you are a wonderful mama - it's so wonderful that she came to you. I hope it's the same with my girls.

Nancy said...

You and I both know "that girl" would probably trade places with your daughter in a heartbeat. For a family, a home, boundaries and security ... but your daughter would never understand this, until she is grown.

Shannon- TN said...

You are such an amazing person. I learn something almost every time you write about your parenting situations. I have a 4 yr old son and 15 month old daughter. My heart aches to even think about things like this with both of them. I don't know if you realize this, but you are a great teacher of many things! I admire you. I also admire how you handle your children. I wish more parents were like you. God bless!

Mrs. Chicken said...

This is so poignant - there is nothing quite like the ache in a preteen heart over a boy. Especially a boy stolen by a trusted friend.

jakelliesmom said...

Heartbreaking.

I don't look forward to this for my children, but we still have a long way to go.

It must be a very difficult balance, providing comfort and support without giving her all the benefit of your experience.

Oh, I know how she feels.

flutter said...

Poor, sweet thing. I just want to hug her.

amanda said...

My heart breaks for her and for you...

Rimarama said...

Oh, how I remember those days. And I remember my own mother telling me something very similar to what you were thinking about your daughter's friend. Of course, I didn't believe her.

I wish it didn't take so much hindsight for us to know how beautiful we were at that age. . .

Jessica @ A Bushel and a Peck said...

That is so well said--its funny how clearly some of the memories from back then still stand out. I hope when my turn comes with my daughter, I can handle such situations with as much grace as you showed.

Kristi B. said...

Serious tears in my eyes and as I read this, and my youngest saying "why are you crying Mommy?" Oh, the innocence (she can't even read!) let alone fall into unrequited love!

Jen, you are the best. Absolutely the best. Your daughter is so lucky to have you. Hopefully, she will realize that soon. And that other girl? maybe you should adopt her. Hee hee. You don't have enough children to manage. You could use another one! And man, would she benefit from you in her life!

I too had the loves of my life scratched into my furniture. Oh, my poor girls. They aren't even allowed to hang stickers anywhere, let alone write things on their dressers! We, too, plan to raise Amish little girls!

My love to you as you navigate these years---especially with your first. Remember, you'll be a veteran soon!

dawn224 said...

I remember this too. I think I had the same "friend" too. That's lovely that she came to you.

theghelertertwins.blogspot.com said...

Jen, you are such an awesome mom. It doesn't hurt that you too experienced what she is going through right now. You don't need to worry about your little angel. She's going to do great things. You wait.....

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Oh, how I remember this kind of pain. I'm still friends with my friend who 'stole' away the man/boy from me. We really do laugh about it now.

But, I'm dreading when my girls (and son) go through this.

crazymumma said...

Oh sweet sad angst.

How good of you how wise I should say, for you to just listen and comfort. Not preach.

I am taking notes.

Sophie's Mom said...

So sorry your daughter is doing through a difficult time. Tks for your comment about my pup. We already have pup #2 (pictured in the header), she's from the same litter, just smarter and not as naughty! She looks more like a rotweiller, than a mastiff. Thanks for stopping by!

Caren said...

Beautifully written! She is lucky to have you, though she may not realize it for many years. My daughter turns 7 in November and I am glad we have a few more years in which boys have cooties.

The book I am reading is called The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A. J. Jacobs. Thanks for the comment.

Dorky Dad said...

This was a beautiful post. Heartbreak in those years is just so common. It is what makes us who we are, but boy it sure doesn't feel like it at the time ...

Sarah Lee said...

Big hugs!

You did so well to hold together your thoughts and simply give your daughter what she really needed at the time, a whole lot of love.

You may not feel it, but you really are inspiring. I read your post and think of myself in ten year's time and hope I can hold myself together so well.

Steffie B. said...

Yes....I am having to allow my daughter to spread her wings and have some (only some) independence as well. It is hard.

I thought your post was beautiful. I'll be sure to check her sock drawer thsi weekend for any scribblings or love notes! ;)

Jennifer said...

That was BEAUTIFULLY written. And so relate-able, unfortunately. I think we've all been there. Hugs for your daughter as she begins to navigate these fun yet often hell-ish years. And excellent job mom, you're doing great!

Sarah said...

Jen, Wow. I didn't get a chance to check in yesterday, so just read this post this morning and so wishing I had known when we were talking last night. I want to fly out and give both you and Maddie a big hug! You handled it so beautifully, and how poignant that this occurred just after your reminiscent discovery in the dresser drawer and the realization that she is walking on the same path you were at that age...beautiful beyond words!
TWITA, Sarah
By the way, Joanie's right...check her calendar.

thailandchani said...

I'm glad for the answer you gave her. It never ceases to amaze me that kids will find a way to take pleasure in each other's pain.



Peace,

~Chani
http://thailandgal.blogspot.com

Beck said...

Oh, now my heart hurts, too.
Poor girl.
My oldest has a bitchy, poorly supervised best friend too and it's horrifying.
Question: what is junior year? (I'm Canadian, where we say grade 9, 10, 11...)

painted maypole said...

Beautifully told, and so familiar.

mjd said...

I teach seventh grade and hear of these sorrows on an almost daily basis. It is very difficult being a kid, but so is being a mom. Take care, Jen M.

Annie said...

I think mine is hurting a little bit, too - thanks to the snapshot of the kinds of things we will undoubtedly face in the future. None of us likes to think of our kids hurting at all and especially in matters like this.

suburbancorrespondent said...

Oh, how I wish my teen daughter would come to me with her problems! You are very lucky....