Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Let Sleeping Daughters Lie

Today is Yom Kippur. It's the holiest day of the year for my Jewish friends. It's also a day of atonement. Well, in the great karmic universe (or at least in my house), I must have a lot to atone for. Fasting would be a picnic compared to what I'm dealing with.

In recognition of the holiday, there's no school, so my daughter slept in. I opened the door a couple of times (to drop off clean laundry, not to spy on her or invade her space). She was asleep in the jeans and sweater she wore yesterday. She was lying on top of her comforter and under a small quilt that usually stays at the foot of her bed. Her abandoned book was beside her.

Apparently my letting her stay up late to read meant that she got to forego all civilized bedtime niceties. No soft pajamas, no snuggling under the sheets and covers. Most likely, no face washing or teeth brushing. (I didn't ask, because (a) I'd really rather not know and (b) I'd really really rather not deal with her reaction to my question.)

She slept until about ten o'clock. By then, I had gone for a walk, showered, dressed, had coffee and breakfast, prepared for three conference calls, edited some layouts. When she did finally rouse herself, I got a half-hearted "I'm up," from the base of the staircase. I responded with a friendly request that she come upstairs to my office so we could look at my calendar and decide when I would drive her to the stable. Apparently, she didn't hear me.

A little later, I checked on her. She was still in the same outfit, curled up on the couch with my iPad. I offered breakfast, but she declined. I then offered to help her fix her printer. This entailed a good thirty minutes at her desk with various manuals, CDs and online HELP. 

While I played tech support, I asked her to put down the iPad and, to her credit, she did. Instead of trawling about through Tumblr and Facebook, she lay on her bed. "Don't you have homework?" I asked. She shrugged and gave me one of those non-answers, like "Later," or "I've got it covered." So, I handed her the World Cultures text book. She groaned quite audibly, but started.

Finally, the printer was working with a minor caveat. It seems that it only works from the admin account on her laptop, not from her account. The admin account is password-protected, and it's where I manage the dreaded parental controls. Sore subject, to say the optimal least. We'll have to do some additional detective work to figure out how she can print. But, I felt relatively good because the printer was working again.

My daughter? Not so much.

She made a few unsavory remarks under her breath and slammed her way out of the room. 

Then I lost it.

I hate it when I lose it, but there are certain buttons that no one knows how to press like my daughter does. Is she grateful to have a nice laptop and printer (not to mention access to the iPad that was — in theory — my fiftieth birthday present)? No. Does she feel fortunate to be going to her beloved stable to be with her beloved horse later today? No. Will she ever appreciate all that I've done and do for her? No. No. No.

It's infuriating sometimes. 

Now, I am a problem-solver by nature, so I try to figure out where I went wrong, and — more importantly — how I might course correct. (Or should I "atone?") But, I am absolutely stymied. We have long talks; she agrees to change her attitude. Sometimes, we even seem to make progress. Eventually, though, I'm back where I started: deeply frustrated and trying to keep my cool. Now, I have to decide whether I go down and say I'm sorry for yelling, wait for her to apologize to me (which she will do, you can count on it, as soon as she needs something from me) or just ignore the entire episode.

Regardless, when she's asleep tonight (hopefully in pj's this time), I'll sneak in and look at her. If she's sleeping soundly enough, I'll give her a kiss. Despite the ups and downs, the raised voices and rolled eyes, I'm still smitten.

In my heart of hearts, I know my daughter is still in there somewhere.


  1. She will appreciate you someday, it just takes awhile. My kids are 19 and 20, and they are getting there. My son wrote me a beautiful letter for my 50th birthday, a gift I will treasure forever.
    Due to the fact that my chronologically adult daughter decided she had a lot of "issues" with me, we've been seeing a therapist together, who suggested classes for each of us to take. I just started taking a "Love and Logic" parenting class last night, on the theory that it's never too late to learn new ways of interacting. I'm sure there are classes in your area, if you're interested. Hang in there, it does get better.

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