This could have been a disastrous weekend. All the signs were there . . . Abbi had to “share” at some sort of bizarre drama ritual for Seniors at her high school musical. Some sort of cathartic, circle of life ceremony involving crying hormonal teenagers and Mountain Dew. Even I don’t really get the whole thing. Sadly, for my daughter, she developed my disregard for these kinds of rituals and ritualistic “sharing” of emotions . . . particularly when these kids will wake up tomorrow morning and, well, see each other in the hallways for the next six months.
This is a totally different set of circumstances from a year ago, when Abbi was brand new to the school, wanted desperately to go to the Homecoming dance, and didn’t get asked. This year, about a week ago, Abbi walked in and was grinning, telling me how she’d been asked to Homecoming and how happy she was about it. We dealt with the fact she didn’t want to wear the fancy dress she already owned for the dance, that was being saved for Prom. So I volunteered that we’d go to the mall on Sunday, after her last show, and get her a new dress.
But before all that . . . my two sons were obsessed with getting haircuts. The problem was, between my working, the tight budget, and the fact that I was wanting to see how they would look with their hair just a little longer . . . I let their hair grow out. Now, they’re not surfer dudes, they don’t have bleach blonde hair and their hair isn’t below their collar. One of their teachers keeps asking if they’re ever going to get their hair cut, stressing out the boys and – to be honest – ticking me off. They’re not in violation of the student rules so what’s the problem here?
But when their hair got unruly it was time to give in and get it cut, so the three of us got haircuts – same day as the dress excursion. Noah was first, and through the process I heard him give the entire dissertation into our family challenges. We decorated for Halloween. Dad loves Christmas. Sure, he tells the gal cutting his hair, we get a real tree every year. But there’s no sap that I saw on it getting all sticky.
“That’s because it all got on me bringing the tree in the house,” was my response.
Then he tells how the tree fell over on the way out the door and got water everywhere, and I held my breath at the gal’s response.
“Your Mom must have been pretty upset about that, huh?”
There was a pause, just the briefest of ones . . .
“Umm . . . our Mom died last year,” was the response from Noah.
I heard the woman cutting my hair go “oh, my. Oh my goodness,” but nothing more.
Then Noah just continued with the story. “My Dad cleaned it up, but there were needles everywhere!”
I was very proud of him, sure, but there’s something good about seeing the kids treat this as a fact of life. Noah could have broken down, sure, but he just accepts that this is our life now. No, Mom’s not here, and there’s a lot that is missing as a result, sure, But we are bent, not broken, and life seems to be going forward. We are doing more, feeling better, and life is just that. Life.
Hannah did, in a brief moment, have a discussion with the boys about what you’d do with 3 wishes . . . and like she’s done before, she says she’d wish for Mom to come back. I was actually torn by this. If there was a genie who came to me with that option would I ask for the same thing? Would I be able to let her walk in, with our lives so different now, nearly two years later?
The last event of the weekend was getting a dress for Abbi. It’s not an easy thing for me, seeing grown up dresses and having your little girl – that tiny person with the pig tails when she would hold my hand when she walked – look . . . beautiful. We spent time in several stores – not realizing that in Sacramento, on Sunday, the mall closes at 7pm. Her show had ended at 5pm and we were 40 minutes away from the mall.
By the way, want to feel old as a parent? Go into a store like H&M and see how totally unequipped you are to wear the clothing that they’re selling. Even if I lost 50 pounds I don’t think people would take me seriously in the trendy clothes in the store.
After trudging through the disorganized, random clothing – put willy-nilly in whatever rack they could find – in H&M and another boutique store, I mentioned heading inside Nordstrom, just as a last resort. All through the store – though many were expensive – there were all these vintage looking dresses, like modern craftsmanship met Boardwalk Empire, and she was in love. We walked along, finding several, and Abbi worrying about the cost because of where we were. What she hadn’t realized was that I’d anticipated paying for this dress . . . and being a guy I had over-estimated what it would cost.
She walked into the changing room as the lights started to dim in the store, the distorted announcement grumbling throughout the speakers in the store announcing that they were closing. Abbi walked out and asked what I thought of one dress, greenish bead work all over it, flaring out in the bottom.
“You look gorgeous, Abbi. That’s really cute.”
“Really?” she said, the smile obvious in her interrogative.
“It’s so expensive.”
It really wasn’t, not for what I’d budgeted . . . and not for the smile she gave me.
“Your birthday’s this weekend. Happy birthday, Snuggle.”
Then it happened . . . just as she started to walk back into the room to change out of the dress, I saw her do it . . . she twirled the flared bottom of the dress, back and forth as she walked, just like she had when she was little. The little, happy girl peeking through the teenager once more.
We could have had such a hard time this weekend. Instead, the kids have proven to me that we’re doing okay.