I don’t proclaim to have nightmares and in real life, I don’t have many if rarely any at all (praise Jesus). However, if ever I ranked nightmares or scary life moments last night was top three for sure! In the midst of a regular busy night working with my students, I was being pulled in multiple directions with homework, and signatures, and chore checks, and being asked permission to do this or that but I knew I would need to walk away to attend to my munchkin as she had some portion of homework due the next day that I would have to assist her with. The problem with this was Monday is typically the busiest day of the week for us in general and yesterday I also ran my junior high girls group prior to returning from dinner at our campus cafeteria. On days like these, my husband takes the remaining students with him to basketball practice, (if I never mentioned it here my husband coaches the basketball team in conjunction with us family teaching).
This busy schedule is something that we’ve become accustomed to over the four years we’ve worked here between Jesus, love for each other, and the desire to do our best job we make it work. Last night as I mentioned, my munchkin had homework still in the balance and not just a sheet here or there, we allowed her to ambitiously take on the 5th grade science fair and it wasn’t the science fair that you or I may have known this was the real deal APA format, association paperwork style science fair. We honestly were two extensions behind on her actual paper and single conclusion page. I planned on just biting the bullet and typing the paper for her as she researched and spoke in her own words. Seemingly there has barely ever been enough time to work on more than an experiment a week of which she was to do six total and now here we sat in need of a conclusion.
Being the academic that I am, part of me wanted my daughter to fully experience this project head on and learn from it and experience what she may and the other part wanted her to win and see her smile bright from finishing the process. This process the time kept eclipsing for last week’s harsh cold I am still coughing from, and the week priors long weekend in which we took downtime to enjoy, and the week prior recuperating from the holiday break. All of which are excuses but when you basically work 24 hours six days a week the excuses hold more validity.
As I enter the kitchen to pull my daughter away from her tablet as she finishes a late dinner of pizza with no fruit or side salad (I’ve continuously asked my husband and munchkin to please include) I glance at the clock and notice it’s almost 9:30 pm one full hour past her bedtime and one full hour away from the two hours of time I mentally dedicated to finishing any due homework for the next day. Everywhere in America, I’m sure parents are met with great resistance when they ask their children to step away from electronics or television, and don’t let it be a coveted item or favorite show, game, or social media app (so entirely grateful my munchkin is phoneless and ten) things can get majorly intense. When munchkin looked up at me from said tablet with the eyes of disdain my inner mommy thought about taking the tablet (Christmas present from grandma) and breaking it into a million pieces to teach her don’t you ever look at me with slow disdain as to think I’m interrupting you!
Part of the backstory to this is my munchkin (seemingly munchkin not often) has been having issues with her attitude as of lately. Lately being more like last year she started her cycle at the tail end and tender age of 9, I hoped and prayed it was a fluke and faded into year 13 but I’d later find out that Allison women (the family to which I’ve married into) have early onset periods! I didn’t get my cycle until I was 15 years old, but I digress! So the early menses makes for a very moody Judy anyway, insert this new “tweendom” we’ve entered that my daughter screams from every proverbial mountaintop and that she has entered the stage of a different level of desired independence and opinion and well…there you have it folks, a recipe for mommy-daughter issues.
After I reminded myself that I and a church member prayed this morning in preparation for moments like this I remembered putting on my whole armor and that the enemy was just waiting for a chance to test me. I tried to keep calm, reminded her we won’t be doing that and had her turn the tablet off in preparation. What happened next couldn’t have been expected in my version of a New York Times bestseller, but maybe just maybe it lived in the back of my mind in that weeded area I allowed to grow. Hoping that if it stayed hidden it would never become reality. We had a discussion about her attitude and I asked her why do we always have to deal with this and reminded her of the time (all in mother tone) invited her father to join the conversation and stated that I was no longer doing the science fair project because it was too much work for me and it was not what we discussed when munchkin and I went over the science fair contract (yes contract) sent home from school months ago.
With that said there was a $35 fee that needed to be paid in the event a student didn’t resign from the project prior to December 1st. My husband spoke on how we have been back and forth with saying the project was on and off and extensions had been granted, and he didn’t understand what the issue was with us as it seemed the project should’ve been fun and not stressful and so it was official he was putting a stop to it. That’s when my daughter burst into tears admitting she’d planned to do science for three years and win an award in 8th grade that would propel her into a good high school and a good college so she could be just like mommy and get into good schools, and have options, scholarships, and be featured on tv for being valedictorian. As I type this out I am more impressed with her having actually been impacted by something I shared about my life that in her little ten-year-old mind she’d mapped out this metaphorical road to success if-you-will. Last night I couldn’t see the forest for the trees in that area but my motherly instincts just knew those tears she cried weren’t just about the science fair.
Sooo, I did what every mother would do and asked a comparative question. “Munchkin, why are you crying what’s really the issue?” She replied, “Well, I don’t know, the tears just keep coming and coming!” I then responded with, “Munchkin look at those pictures of us and you and your dad (on her vanity) what do you see?” Munchkin then replies, “I see me smiling and happy.” I take it one step further and ask, “So what’s different now and then? Why are we always in disagreement lately, why do you always have an attitude as of lately?” Munchkin then replied with a straight face after talking to one of the younger students (11-year-old 6th grade) that we’ve allowed munchkin to become close with. The same student I’d earlier reprimanded for blatantly lying to my face who, unfortunately, had tiny manipulative ways beyond her years wrapped in the cutest 11-year-old smile and voice to match. I, unfortunately, need to mention this student is adopted and we meet with the opposition of her past as described by her adoptive parent often. (This doesn’t help my case of wanting to adopt and trying to get the hubby to buy in either may I add.) This student asked if my munchkin thought that we treat her (munchkin) differently or treat the students better than we treat her. Munchkin’s response? Sometimes.
Enter…my ugly gut-wrenching cry for the next 10 minutes with intervals of I quit this shit today (I’ve since repented), I can’t do this, I never wanted her to feel that way or say it, how dare this kid (my student) just ask this &*^%$@# question!
It became more apparent that my recent linking up with a new church member to pray for 5 minutes each morning that felt called and was really random was definitely timely and on purpose. I’ve suffered bouts of anxiety in college and seemingly all my life, it was never diagnosed but as I look back on my life that wasn’t a popular diagnosis in the 90’s especially in African-American culture. My new prayer partner was battling similar as well as issues with her daughters, health, and employer. Before I could think on it when she shared her current prayers the words jumped and escaped my lips, “Do you want to pray sometimes?” Who knew I’d need it just as much as if I didn’t already…hashtag denial.
After our family intervention and my meltdown, I spent the next hour lying in bed with my daughter professing and explaining my love, our love, our hopes, desires, wishes, plans, rationales, and everything else. In-between falling asleep munchkin spoke honestly and admitted she did think that sometimes but not often and more still liked being at our company but finds it hard to deal with the behind the scenes pieces we’ve failed to fully realize. The awkward glances and stares by students who didn’t like reprimands, or the questions they ask of her to try and get to know us without asking us directly, the general child-like questions all kids may find easier to ask about someone else other than their own families. She spoke about how she dealt with that wanting to give people knuckle sandwiches ( my interpretation) and wanting things to be over quickly so making the judgment not to share things with us in fear it would simply perpetuate those stares.
I exclaimed, “my baby!” As to sum up all I’ve ever felt, feared, hoped, prayed for, was proud of in two words. I really meant, I was uber proud of her resolve, she better not ever keep anything from me and we are a team, and I’m watching her grow right before my very eyes. As we lay and talked more, eventually we’d both fall asleep as we once did when she was much younger. She is now almost my exact shoe size and height in the 5th-grade mind you. I would later be disturbed again at 2 am only to find on top of all this madness a student regurgitated all she’d eaten that day somehow right on the brand new carpet in her dorm. When I came to see (half-cocked and dizzy with a major headache) she sat cleaning up her own vomit with a smile saying simply, “Hi Mrs. Allison.” After all the dealings that would follow we sat until almost 4 am awaiting the arrival of her mother to adhere to school policy to pick up any sick child when medical staff isn’t on campus. As I got back to my couch to finalize the barrage of awaited paperwork for the occasion, I thought about all that had just occurred in the last seven hours and somehow knowing that I wasn’t getting up for prayer I text a small prayer to my church friend and allowed Jesus the only one that could allow me to slumber to ease me back to sleep at 4:45 am.
Lord help us mothers, and children everywhere…