It is midnight.
I am trying to finish prepping Pride and Prejudice for tomorrow when I realize that my thirteen-year old is avoiding going to bed.
I finally question her hovering. “You just went to the bathroom and got water. What are you doing?”
“I had to blow my nose,” she responds. However, her voice has a lilt in it. I can tell something is wrong.
Hmmmmm. I feel agitation. I want nothing more than to finish my reading. She is at least an hour passed when she should go to sleep. Ugh! I am feeling a little undone because I am pms’ing and the dishes are never put away and no one else seems to be able to fold the laundry and the damn garage door needs fixed. To be honest, I just want to go to bed but I have a lot of reading left and the minutes on the clock are ticking away. I sort of feel like an emotional roller coaster, so to have my thirteen-year old daughter milling around when it is already midnight makes me feel like I could teeter or I could totter. Either way, it might not be pretty.
“Carson, it is late. You need to go to bed.” I speak these words in the calmest, most motherly voice I can muster.
Of course, she says good night, but then, from behind her not-so-closed-door, I hear crying.
Momentarily, I assess the situation: I need to finish prepping. It is late. She should already be asleep. I should be asleep. Shit.
I walk into her room.
“Carson, are you crying?”
“Sort of,” she says through a mixture of sniffling and tears.
“Because Susie is having a birthday party and I wasn’t invited.”
Susie. A dance friend. A friend that is a friend but not really a friend but seems like a friend because proximity puts them in the same building together four days a week.
Upon this proclamation, she lets go. If I could teach actresses what true blubbering is, this is it: snot and tears and saliva and a constant wiping into arms and pillows and covers.
(If the sanitary police exist… we may need to be arrested.)
Watching this fiasco of emotion, I feel somewhat ambivalent. It is late. She is overtired. I am overtired. I selfishly wish I would have let her cry it out. What is it that she wants me to do? Offer advice? In the state I am in, my advice will either be to address Susie directly or tell her off, with the latter winning in my brain as she exhales the jagged breath of a crier.
As she escalates up her emotional Mount Olympus, some paradigm shifts in my brain. Wait! I will not have to spend thirty bucks to buy a gift for some kid I do not really know?
The Hyde of my dispassionate Jackal realizes the pain she is feeling: Someone told her about a party she was not invited to and she believes the inviter to be a friend. She feels ostracized.
“What do you expect from this crying, Carson? Will this solve any of your pain?” I ask.
“No!” She takes a deep breath and cries harder.
I inhale deeply. I count to three. What to say? What to say?
“Honey, this friend is a friend now, but she will not always be, and even in two months, her party will be arbitrary.”
I go for reason. It doesn’t work. She crosses her arms at the elbows and covers her face.
Yet, I still continue with reason. “Carson, this is just one party of hundreds of parties in the course of your life. She made a mistake! Chances are you might not even remember Susie in twenty years. Please do not let one little indiscretion hurt your feelings.”
“Okay,” she says as she tries to control her breathing. She knows that I am right, although I cannot take the hurt away.
At thirteen, her world is so limited that she is unable to see a bigger picture. As much as I want to protect her and punch all the little Susie’s of the world in the face, she is experiencing reality: sometimes, you are not invited to the party; sometimes, the friends that you put all of your hopes in end up leaving you in the end; sometimes, what you thought was real was not actually there. But, there will be other parties and other friends and more experiences that will fill her with joy.
Hold out Carson, it will be better soon. And don’t forget. I am your mother. If you need me to, I can ruffle some feathers.