While I don’t pretend that my oldest is not taking on more responsibility, I never wanted her to think, at age 16, that she had to take over being her Mom. That first day, when I came in and told the kids their Mom had passed, I could see it in her eyes. She broke down, like we all did, but I could see her get this look of resolution in her eyes. She even at that point pulled the boys to her and started trying to step up.
I stopped that.
I wanted my 16-year-old Abbi to be . . . well . . . a 16-year-old. I get the indication of just how much I rely on her when things like picking up the kids from school at the end of the work day falls on my shoulders. I work a good 30 miles away from home. A recent study also showed that Sacramento drivers are some of the worst in the country. I have to say, I totally agree. I worked in Dallas, with horrible traffic and no alternate routes home to the Fort Worth side of the metroplex (I use that term because it really ticks people there off . . . sorry, but you are a metroplex). Even there most days my drive home, with no one to carpool with in the HOV lane, I got home quicker more miles away than I do in Sacramento.
I bring this up because Abbi normally gets the kids before the Extended Day Program, EDP, closes at 6pm. If we don’t get them by that time they charge me extraordinary fees and give lectures about what time they close. To make it in time I have to actually leave by 4:30 from work in order to get them in time. Now that I’m tight and have to worry about the amount I have for gas this next week and a half I take the train. Same thing applies. 4pm or 4:30 to get the school in time.
I bring this up because Abbi, who is in the school play, was not given a speaking role, still has to practice until 6pm nearly every day this week. The play’s not for more than a month and they’re already doing massive, long rehearsals. It’s confounding. I don’t rail against it much at home because Abbi wants to be in drama, theater, directing, writing, all of it. I look at it and just grit my teeth. But Friday, after I’d had a great day, the day went south when Abbi blew a gasket because I hadn’t followed the schedule on the fridge for when she does/doesn’t have practice. This after my morning from hell getting them all together, feeding them breakfast, and talking with members of a major corporation on the phone to the East Coast to try and arrange an interview. During all this, she “reminded me” she had rehearsal until 6pm. I didn’t hear that.
That finished, we got in a shouting match . . . that I won. She had a valid point – one I admitted to – about her having the schedule. In my defense, the Rosetta Stone is easier to read than this sheet of paper and the chicken scratches she put on the family calendar on the fridge. The reason I won, though, is because no matter what happens, I’m still Dad. If she starts shouting at me they all will and while I’ll admit when I’m wrong . . . I don’t respond to shouting. Never did, and it’s an issue of respect.
Finally, I had her help me put the dates in my phone, which I live off. The problem became the fact that every single day she has late rehearsal now. It’s killing me, because, in TV, you can’t work a steady number of hours. Doesn’t work that way. I wish it did. I managed today, but it was after much rearranging things.
Then on the way to the car from the train Abbi called . . . she’d seen the stress I was dealing with and told me she’d talked to the drama director. Could she leave 15 minutes early, since she’s not really in a speaking role, she knows the songs, and quite frankly – in my honest opinion, Abbi’s better than being in the “ensemble” anyway? The teacher agreed and Abbi had arranged getting the kids.
In one fell swoop, she manged to help. It may seem a little thing – picking up the kids from school – but when you don’t have that taken care of the world spins out of control. Really does.
So, again, she managed to take care of things. Next year, it all changes when she’s in college. Still, we’ve handled change before. Can do it again.
After all, we’re stronger together than when we’re apart.