Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ode to Bugabooga

My daughter's birthday is today and she graduated from middle school last night. A double whammy with unexpected emotions. Well, I expected to be sentimental and sappy on her birthday, because I always am, but not over graduation.

I didn't even want to go. It was presented as a short ceremony with a party for the graduates afterward. I only went because I had to. I mean, what kind of mom doesn't go to her only child's graduation? Only the kind of mom that I myself would judge harshly. So I went. Begrudgingly.

It wasn't so fun and made me crabby. I parked a mile away and thanked myself for having the sense to not wear heels on my trek to the school. It was crowded and hot in the gym and completely unorganized. I found a spot against the wall to lean on since there were no chairs left. D had gone to a friend's to get ready so I didn't get a chance to see her beforehand and then searched in vain to catch a glimpse of her in the sea of 8th graders. I saw her friends, but not her. I started to wonder if she was even there.

The principal came out and gave what is probably his standard speech. "This is the best group of 8th graders we've ever had, blah, blah blah." Then they showed a video of all the kids that prompted screams and cheers from the entire 8th grade class. My ears were ringing halfway through. It was a long video. Did I mention how hot it was in there?

When Principal What's-His-Name came back up to the microphone, it was to tell the kids some tired old adages that were probably meant to be inspirational, but just sounded cliche. "Make your own choices. Be the change you want to see in the world. Blah, blah, blah." Is this thing over yet? Then he gave his blessing or official promotion or whatever "on behalf of the Board of Education" and I got all teary. Wtf?

The kids were then dismissed and I finally located D at the end of the line on her way out the door. I hurried after her and was greeted with a quick "Hi Mom" followed by the I'm-really-too-busy-to-talk-to-you-because-my-friends-are-more-important-in-my-life-than-you look. I had to practically beg her to allow me to take a quick picture of her. "But Mom! My friends!" "Please? It's your graduation! I have to have a picture of you in your cute dress!" (that I paid for, by the way.) She finally acquiesced before scampering off again to rejoin her friends for the dance.

I hiked back to my car, sat in my seat and broke down in tears. Sobbed. Because she "rejected" me. Because she's growing up. Because I'm proud of her. Because I love her. Because I was alone and had nobody to share my emotions with.

I had to go buy her a birthday card and some doughnuts for her birthday breakfast. (I had planned on making her something special, but yeah. Right. Like I'm preparing specialty meals before six in the morning. Sure...) Reading the cards made me cry. Choosing the right kind of doughnuts made me cry. I was walking around Walmart crying. People were giving me weird looks. We're talking the weird Walmart-type people. Like they have any right to judge. I was an emotional wreck. It's a good thing I know how to make a good Manhattan because I needed it.

This morning when she woke up, the dogs and I dazzled her with a medley of birthday songs. I knew she was disappointed with just a card (even though it was the most heartfelt card I've ever bought for ANYone) until I told her that I couldn't wrap ballet tickets and a pedicure. "We're getting pedis??!?!?!? Where's the ballet? What are they performing?" She was suddenly awake and interested in her day. And in me. Briefly.

Then she hit me with it. I knew she couldn't just Accept. She also has to Take. Us moms know that any sentence that begins with "Since it's my birthday" doesn't mean they want to express their undying love and gratitude to you for all of the sacrifices you make and do or don't use to guilt trip them with. "How about you drive me to school and we get Starbucks on the way?" Oh, what the hell. A coffee sounded good to me too. I got my revenge. As she was getting out of the car in front of the school I yelled, "Happy birthday Bugabooga!! I LOVE YOU!!!" That's about the meanest thing you can do to your kid. Bwah ha ha.....

I know I complain a lot about her and parenting and how hard it is. It is hard. And I have legitimate complaints. And it's the nature of the beast of motherhood. But she's actually a cool kid. She's fun and smarter than I give her credit for. At some things. Not at using the vacuum when she forgets to plug it in and then claims it doesn't work.

She's sassy the way a girl should be. This morning she said she was going to wear her short shorts, the ones that aren't allowed in school. She said, "What are they going to do, bust me on the last day?" I was so proud. She has an excellent sense of humor. She's genuinely caring even though she makes it so easy to forget when 90% of what comes out of her mouth is about her.

On the way to get our coffee, the morning radio show was discussing websites that coach you on how to talk to your teenagers, how to express your feelings in their language. Seriously? Parents need this? I know D was thinking the same thing. I turned to her and said, "You're awesome! You rock!" She rolled her eyes and said, "Mom, don't. Just don't." She gets that eye roll from me. All the women in my family do it.

And the truth is, if I had a boy I'd probably turn him gay. It's not appropriate to take a boy to get pedicures. D's first word after "mom" was "shoe." Some people would frown at a boy doing that. I like that we can watch chick-flicks and do facials and she paints my nails. We do fashion shows when we get new clothes. We go shopping and say "Oh, that's cuuuute!" over and over all day.

Yes, I complain. I get exhausted and overwhelmed and I don't know how to do it All. There are days that I daydream about getting in my car and driving and driving, far away from it All. But I can't imagine my life without her. I can barely remember what it was like before her. And I'm terrified of what lies ahead. The things that seemed so far away when she was in diapers are frighteningly close now. Her first real kiss, her first real boyfriend, her first real heartbreak. High school graduation, going away to college, her first apartment. First job. We still have a lot of firsts left. Big ones too.

There are more frustrations to come. More tears. But also more "that's what she said" jokes. More facials, more talk about boys. More ballets and more birthdays.

More of Bugabooga. I couldn't ask for more than that.


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