Sunday, July 10, 2011

Smooth Sailing

This morning, my tween daughter and I had an argument.

You see, she had made plans to meet a friend at the beach at 2:00 pm. I knew about these plans. She also had plans to join that friend and her family for dinner afterwards. Alas, I did not know about these plans. I have nothing against the friend or her family. But, we had already accepted an invitation for a cookout at my in-laws.

As per usual, my insistence that my daughter change her (until then, secret) plans met with ... shall we say ... a bit of an attitude. According to her, I "just don't understand." I was also "ruining her life." When words failed, she resorted to sound effects.

My tween daughter does an uncanny impersonation of Chewbacca from the original Star Wars.

At any rate ... disagreements are pretty much par for the course these days. But, this morning's interchange took me by surprise. We hadn't had a single argument for seven days.

In that glorious fight-free week, we sailed with friends from Boston to Bermuda and back again. We visited pink beaches and crystal caves. We ate way too much and saw way too many shows in the ship's "Stardust" theatre. We went sightseeing, shopped and had a proper British tea at a fancy hotel. We lay by the pool, flipped through magazines and listened to steel drums.

Best of all, we got along.

I was reminded over the course of the vacation just how much I like my daughter. She's funny and smart. She makes entertaining observations. She's polite and appreciative. She holds her own in adult conversations. She's an uncomplaining traveler and eager to try new things, see new sights. It sounds corny, I know, but I felt like my daughter was back. We left whoever has been inhabiting her body for the past year in Boston when we pulled away from the dock.

Not only was this new and improved version of my daughter with me for the duration, she actually seemed to want to be with me. There were countless tween and teen girls on the boat due to the fact that two different dance companies had been invited to perform. We saw them everywhere — bikini-clad at the pool, posing flirtatiously for the ship's photographer, making out on the Promenade deck with teen boys they had just met (yes, really), and prowling in packs through the Atrium en route to the disco.

But, my daughter, I'm proud to say, was not interested.

In all fairness, I may not have been the draw. (In fact, I'm fairly certain I was not.) We cruised with my best friend, whom my daughter adores, and, more importantly, her 18-year old. My daughter was no doubt pleased to be hanging out with this older girl. I have a hunch that if the teen had decided to go to the disco, the tween would have happily tagged along. As it was, we stuck together, presenting a unified, if multigenerational, wall of girl power.

The vacation ended, as vacations are wont to do, too quickly. Before we knew it, we were back in Boston. We have nice suntans (thanks to SPF 30), a couple of pounds to work off, and hundreds of pictures to sort through. We have wonderful memories of good times with great friends.

And, I have something even more precious. I have reassurance that my beloved daughter is still in there somewhere.

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