There have been times lately that I’ve been quite envious of your dad being able to travel to a far and distant place (Oakland) and remove himself from the daily parenting drama that unfolds here at the house. You’re really making me work for that parenting title and for someone like me who still seeks answers from people I consider “real” adults, this doesn’t bode well for me. I hate being the disciplinary but since your dad doesn’t get home until late, I really don’t have a choice. We get into these disagreements that force me to say things I really don’t want to say. Sometimes I’ll be talking to you and I’ll being thinking in my head, jeez, I’m being such an asshole! Believe me, I don’t want to be the responsible adult who sets the rules. I want the part where we’re best friends, shopping and boozing it up all the time. When does that part happen?
When it’s you and me, I have pretty good control over situations. When we add in friends, that’s a little harder. I was a kid once, I do understand that everything changes when a friend is present. Maybe we’re a little meaner to our siblings and maybe we talk back a little more to our parents. We push boundaries because we’re showing off and we want to see what we can get away with. You struggle with making friends so when a friend is over, you’re excited. You’re exuberant! You also kind of act like an idiot who has never been around people. Suddenly, your brother is screaming, you forget that homework is something we do after school and all concept of time and boundaries are neglected and then I have to have the Afterschool Special discussion how we need to stand up to our friends and remember house rules, blah blah blah. You have to believe me when I say I hate these moments. I would really rather have an invasive medical procedure. In that moment, I’m speaking this parental garbage that makes me want to roll my own eyes and I see you glaring at me with so much hatred. I get it and I understand but being a parent also means being a douche every now and then. Ok, all the time.
I find myself talking to you while holding a personal dialogue in my head with myself where I second guess everything I’m telling you. Should I lighten up? Am I being overbearing? Do I sound like I know what I’m talking about? Will this moment resonate with you later? Did I remember to turn the stovetop off? I do realize this is payback for all those years I never called to check-in with my own folks and how I often “forgot” about my curfew and rolled in two hours later. Yes, I realize things come full circle and karma can be a big ol’ bitch. Does that make this whole thing any easier? NO! I’m no good at this parenting business. Please know that I feel it’s my responsibility to lay out these rules. If I were you, I wouldn’t like them either. In fact, I would probably hate me as well for being such a bossy parent that makes me do my homework and then makes me eat Aloo Gobi for dinner while a friend boasts how she gets chicken nuggets for dinner. Please understand that I don’t want to raise a self-entitled asshole and in my attempt to prevent this outcome, sometimes I’m the one who comes off as the asshole. Hopefully one day we can reflect on this in person while boozing it up. That is the dream.
When we’re not fighting over friends and homework and life, there are moments when we’re at peace and functioning as two normal human beings. I’ve dismantled the home office because with your dad working less at home, the room just became a collection of things we didn’t want to deal with. Meanwhile, the kitchen table was taking a beating with all the drawings and attempted craft projects. Part of our nightly ritual involved me screaming at you and Miles to clean up the mess or at least just to make a space for your dinner plate. I had the idea to turn the office into an art room that way you could be as creative as your little heart desired and if it didn’t get cleaned up right away, no problem, there are doors!
You spend more time in the art room than you do in your own room. I’ve been on a big creative kick lately (thank you quarter-life crisis!) and you usually jump at the opportunity to take a stab at what ever it is I’m doing. I love Creativebug because of all the easy and approachable classes and their drawing classes with Lisa Congdon are really fantastic. For the month of January, Lisa Congdon held a draw-a-day challenge where each day she showed you how to draw an everyday object, different ways. You really love these and I’m surprised how you can jump right in and follow the instructions with ease. Since you’re really into art and tell me when you grow up, you plan to be an artist/astronaut, I thought it was time that you were gifted your very own sketchbook so you were given your very first Moleskin and Micron pen. You were ecstatic and visions of you as a prolific artist exploded in my head.
When we’re not taking drawing classes online, I see you taking an interest in my old Ed Emberley drawing books. I LOVED those books! They were my everything. Finding those books in the library was as good as finding the body books that illustrated all the body parts. Nothing like giggling in the corner of the library looking at illustrated penises and examples of body hair.
I watch you study the Ed Emberley books with such focus and determination. You follow the instructions with ease but you don’t stop there, no, no. You then proceed to draw your characters in settings, telling stories about them. You’re probably thinking to yourself, who cares? Listen, I remember when you were a little blob, crapping all over the place. You were a mess. You still are but now you have fine-tuned eye-hand coordination with an imagination I find developed and interesting. We’ve come a long way and dammit, I’m proud! I also teach art in your class and I can confidently say that all children are NOT born artists. What you have is special, believe that.
David Bowie recently passed away and as an obsessed Labyrinth fan, I was devastated. I have many fond memories of that movie and I really have to give it to David Bowie for teaching me that men have different things going on below the waist–hello stretchy pants! I had read that a recently opened theater in San Francisco, The Alamo Drafthouse, was planning to show Labyrinth in a speak/sing-a-long in honor of David Bowie’s passing. I immediately called your Auntie Reina because she too shares a deep love for this classic, often talking to me in nothing but Labyrinth dialogue. I originally only planned to attend the showing with Auntie Reina but you were almost offended that I wasn’t including you. “I’m a girl! Why can’t I go on girl dates too?!” You’re right. As special as this event was, I felt it was my duty as a responsible parent to expose you to this beloved cinematic treasure in an awesome setting surrounded by people who share a common admiration.
The theater is awesome! No snack bar because there are waiters who come to you and take your order! AND THEY SERVE ALCOHOL!! You were happy as a clam with your giant bowl of truffle popcorn and an extra large glass filled to the brim with ginger ale. It was an interactive movie so upon arrival, we found our seats adorned with bubbles and poppers to use throughout the movie. I don’t think any of us could have been happier in that moment.
Dad recently kegged your very first handmade batch of wine and since you did the hard work, it only seemed fair that you received a celebratory glass. I have to admit, it isn’t half bad. I’m happy to see all those years of dad teaching you anything and everything about wine is finally paying off in the form of more juice for us to drink! We’re really just exposing you to the good stuff early in an effort to have you bypass all the junk you’re going to be offered in high school. I can see it now, a friend offering you a box of Franzia and you saying, no thanks, I have a jug of my own stuff right here. Oh, that would make us so proud.
Things haven’t been so bad lately. I do paint a bleak picture when I talk about our squabbles and yes, they suck when they happen and they do happen regularly but we also have really good moments that shouldn’t be overlooked. The moments when we’re drawing together or we’re sitting in your fort just hanging out and talking are the best and are the moments I’ll carry with me to the grave. I guess I’m such a stickler for the rules because I know you’re a great kid and I hate to see you act weak and be taken advantage of by people. I have this immense fear that if you don’t find your voice now, you’ll never find it and the next thing you know you’ll be 15 years old dating a 57 year old man named Chaz. Do me a favor, Olivia: listen to me, stick up for yourself and if ever you meet a man named Chaz, run in the other direction. Trust me.