Independence Day

I let Hayden, my 14 year old, drive around the gravel road by the country house. He sat tall and proud. He was focused. He handled the minivan around the sharp turn as elegantly as if he’d been driving race cars his whole life. Which in a way he has — all that time in video arcades and gaming devices prepared him well for the finer motor skills necessary to

This was the 4th of July sunset over the Hudson River from the Amtrak train coming back from the country.

motor the family van.

He can’t wait to drive.

On the 5-hour drive to the country, from the backseat, my son asked, “Is it fun to drive?”

I had to think about it. Accelerating is nice. Passing people is sweet. Feeling the breeze from the wide open window is cool. Blaring music is happening.

“Yes, it is,” I said. “Driving’s fun.”

The best part of driving is that you feel independent. While my tall son may believe he’s ready to drive today, the quarter mile loop by the Big House is as far as he will go. He may be ready but I’m not.

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When Kids Are Mean to Mom

My preteens have mood swings that take them from an attitude of a toddler to an adult in a flash. Take tonite. 

C. storms into our small NYC kitchen where her father and I are already tripping over each other fixing dinner.

“I’m starving.”

“Good, I’m making arroz con pollo, your fave.”

“I hate it. I am starving. I haven’t eaten anything.”

“Have a strawberry. Have yogurt. Dinner’ll be ready in half an hour.”

“I hate it. I’m starving.”

“Hey,” I said. “I don’t like anyone being mean to anyone else. Including you to me. I told you we’re fixing dinner.” I could feel my patience beginning to snap. I walked away. I didn’t want to yell. I took some deep breaths. She stormed ahead of me, into her bedroom and began to slam the door. I caught the door before it slammed and closed it gently.

Then, okay, yes, I gave the middle finger to the closed bedroom door. (I know, I know, I’m immature too!)

I grabbed my phone. I tweeted my friends, “I’m the nicest person in the world. Why is my daughter mean to me?” I got nice feedback. Like @katejenian “@MaryBethC You are there for your children to be mean to, as you will forgive them, and they know it. They also get over it (I did). :)” and @MegP4 said, “@MaryBethC Oh, can I soooo relate to this. Sorry.” And nycdavidwebb said, “you are indeed a nice person.”

I felt better. Venting to cyber friends cooled off my hot, mad attitude towards my little ingrate.

I heard C. singing in the kitchen. I peeked around. I watched her climb on a chair and nuke herself some old tacos smothered in cheese and black beans. She was making herself some nachos. She was singing, silly, happy. I couldn’t stay mad.

I let it go.

This preteen age is tricky. They have mood swings. They want what they want. And they yell and disrespect people, even me, their mother! Yet they still need me, want me, and cuddle me. It is an age of letting the door slam gently (and then, giving the closed door the finger!) 

I can’t remember, but it’s highly probable I had mood swings too.