Haley sat beside me in the passenger seat of my Honda Odyssey, but she was miles away. Her long, thin legs folded at the knees and her feet rested on the dash. She circled her thumb across a neon green iPod which provided her the additional isolation she craved.
“Haley,” I repeated. She shifted her eyes in my direction. “Turn that off.”
She pulled the ear buds out of her ears. “What?” She punctuated the word with impatience.
I ignored her sassy tone. “I am very disappointed that you didn’t let me know before tonight that you had to bring Mexican food to school for International Day.”
Haley’s long hair hung in her face, concealing her hazel eyes. “Sorry. I forgot.” That’s what she said, but what I heard was, “Don’t bother me.”
“I went to the store today. If you’d put it on the list, I would have been happy to buy whatever you needed.”
“Fine, Mom. Turn around and let’s go home. I’ll just fail the project.”
Unfortunately, she knew I wouldn’t do that. “It bothers me that you sat at the computer for the past two nights, insisted you didn’t have homework, and now I have to run you to the store at the last minute.”
“I was writing a story. All day I have to do what other people tell me to do. When I get home, I need time to do something that’s important to me.”
“You have to do your work first. I need you to be more responsible.”
She looked out the window. “Okay.”
When we arrived at the store, I handed her a rubber band. “Please pull your hair back.”
“I like my hair this way,” she said, but took the band and quickly twisted her hair into a pony tail.
When we arrived home, she headed to her room, and I headed toward the attic to look for a sombrero she’d requested for her display.
As I moved boxes around the attic to make a pathway, I spotted one labeled “Memories” and couldn’t resist opening it. Sitting on top was a white spiral notebook with a bright rainbow across the cover. I had shared the notebook with my best friend, Lisa, when we were Haley’s age. We wrote letters to each other and passed the notebook back and forth. I read the fat, curvy script of my first letter.
In Geometry. B-O-R-I-N-G!!!! I HATE math! Why do we have to do it??? My mom is so mad at me! She says I procrastinate, but I’m sorry–it’s hard to get excited about some of the things we’re FORCED to do at school Everywhere I turn, someone’s telling me what to do, what to wear, where to go... Only 2 weeks until I can take my driver’s test, then maybe I’ll have more FREEDOM. Maybe she’ll finally let me get my ears double-pierced. I love my parents, but they criticize everything I do!!! Well, gotta go. BFF, KK
“MOM!” I jumped at the sound of Haley’s voice. “Did you find it?”
I tucked the notebook under my arm, grabbed the sombrero and hurried back down the attic ladder.
“Thanks,” Haley said as she took the hat and returned to her room.
I followed her. “Can I show you something?”
She shrugged her shoulders, but I handed her the notebook.
“It’s what we did before texting. It’s notes between me and my best friend. Read the first page.”
She read silently, then looked at me with questioning eyes.
“Sometimes I forget what it was like to be a teenager. Maybe you do need more freedom.”
“Really?” Her face lit up.
“Yes, but it works both ways. You can wear your hair however you want and I won’t nag you about your homework, but you must maintain your grades and no last minute trips to the store.”
“What about Facebook?”
“What about it?”
“Do you have to be one of my Facebook friends? It’s embarrassing.”
I tried not to be hurt. I thought I was being a cool mom when I sent her flair...apparently not. “I’ll remove myself, but I get your password so I can check it.”
She smiled. “Deal.”
I left her room feeling better about our relationship. I headed to my computer to remove myself from her friend’s list when I noticed that I had a friend request. For the second time that night, I better understood my daughter’s feelings. My friend request was from MY mother.
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