Monday, February 11, 2013

Notes From Asher

She sends me e-mails the same way that I used to pass notes in class when I was her age; her words are sprinkled with emoticons where I might have added liberal doses of felt pen and hearts. Sometimes it's hint-dropping about birthday wishlists or, when she is away from home for the night, just to see how everyone else is doing and whether or not we have eaten any of her favorite foods without her. It's also how she comes to me when the important words become dammed up by their own weight.

On Thursday morning I'm looking on the fridge for the phone number she's placed there. It's been hanging on the door by a Peanuts magnet for a couple of weeks now and each time that I've walked by it, there has been a pinching feeling of inadequacy. Her pet rat is sick and I haven't been able to get it care until today. I pick up the phone and after deciphering a misprint, the receptionist is on the line.They do have a doctor that can treat Daila, and I relay this to my oldest.

I'm relieved. Even if its $50 to just look at our $8 rat, I don't want the little thing hurting if I can help it, and mostly I want my daughter to know that I love her by caring for the things that she cares about.

We move on to other things.

I try to convince my girls that it is most definitely shower time, and after meeting some resistance, type a quick Facebook SOS, soliciting advise from all those parents who have been at this teenage stuff longer than I have:

"Oh. This parenting of adolescents stuff is tricky. How do you tell a child that they are smelly without telling them they are smelly? No Baby, you can't put those clothes back on after your shower cause I was thinking about burning 'em. #NewTerritoryForMe"

They each decide to take their showers and I do the sneaky and-here-is-your-deoderant-I-just-put-your-name-on-it move after the first one gets in.

They each finish. 
I let my youngest child run around without clothing.
We have lunch.
We clean up lunch.
The three year-old has an accident.
Games are played.
I'm happy for how little fighting they are doing today.

I start thinking dinner but first go on a hunt for my seven year-old who is using my phone to watch Minecraft videos. He wraps up and brings it into the kitchen where he finds me staring, uninspired, into open cupboards, trying to come up with a plan. I've got nothing. I close the cupboard doors dismissively, and pick up my phone to plug it in.

Facebook again, quickly, and then e-mail, then back to the cupboards to see if anything has changed.

A few emails down, there's a note from Asher. I can see from the subject that it's about her ratty. I notice that it is from six hours ago, shortly after I had called the vet. 

Just two words: Daila's dead.

My poor daughter has been carrying this around with her all day long and has not said a word. I replay the day in my head again; everything about it so damn ordinary, and yet this.

She's at the desk designing something. 

Honey, I got your e-mail. I'm so sorry.

She looks at me, her eyes now rimmed in red. We find a shoe box, fill it with soft bedding, and I ask her if she's comfortable taking care of this by herself, or if she wants me by her side. She tells me, softly, that she'd like to do it. My daughter is quiet and I'm just getting glimpses of brave.

I leave her in her room with her friend for as long as she needs. 

I'm in awe of her and thankful for having treaded gently with her earlier in the day—how easily I could have blown it. I'm reminded that people (even those right under our noses) could have any number of personal things going on that we don't know about, and should be treated with grace.

This post is linked up with Heather at the Extraordinary Ordinary's Just Write.

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