My daughter is in seventh grade. Twelve and a half. We’ve got what I think is a solid relationship. We have open, honest conversations about silly things (such as the latest scrunchy fad as well as complicated stuff, like how my Catholic upbringing causes a delay in getting “they, them” pronouns right, but I’m trying. We chat at length about my parents’ divorce and the ripple effects it still has on my life today. She confides in her friends’ struggles and I’m (age-appropriately) honest when I’m feeling sad or frustrated. Add to that the sweet joy that we share a lot of the same hobbies: reading, running, riding horses, and writing.
About that writing hobby.
I’ve not read a single word she’s written in two years, save for family cards where we all write a few kind, quick words and sign our names. Gone are the days when her teacher hands me her work at the parent-teacher conference during which she is home with a sitter. Gone are the days she proudly lets me read a book report or “seed story” over her shoulder; nowadays she does all of her work on her school computer, for which I do not have the password.
Each assignment has a different excuse. You didn’t read the book, Mom, you wouldn’t get it. This is a personal letter to the teacher, it’s private. Mom, you’ll read what I wrote and make suggestions to change it. There’s a part about our horse, Mom, and I don’t want you to cry. Sigh.
Last week after another rebuff, I confronted her. She sighed. I guess I just want my privacy, Mom. My deepest feelings are in these things I write. And you don’t want to share those deepest feelings with me? From the back seat, I heard a very small no.
It stung. Tears threatened, but I fought them and won. It’s normal for this age, I told myself. Give her the space. Respect the distance she wants. Keep the hope that she comes back around. Ok, I said to her. Ok.
But that apple doesn’t fall far from this tree. I’m writing this on a blog that my husband doesn’t know about. I guess sometimes we all want a little distance from the ones we wish would hold us the closest.