Today I sat in the car with my teenage daughter. She was eating hot chips, drinking ice tea. She had Ed Sheerhan playing through her iPhone. We were parked, looking out at the ocean.
"Stop!" I wanted to scream, like the start of the Pixies song. I wanted to paint this picture of mother and daughter laughing, sharing a moment. I wanted her to be older than her 14 years, to be coming home from Europe, maybe, or on a break from uni. More than anything I wanted her to be telling me how happy she is. More than anything, I just want my kids to be happy and healthy.
Here's the real picture. She is crying. Actually she is sobbing. She is sobbing because she did the wrong thing, she betrayed my trust ... and she got caught. The thing is, I'd planned to read her the riot act. I'd planned to ground her for life, to take away every electronic device she owns. I'd planned to be smug in the knowledge that my instinct as a mother was right, that she'd done exactly what I thought she was going to do, and she got busted.
As soon as she started crying, though, it just broke my heart. My resolve faltered. I wanted to believe what she was telling me, even though I know differently. I did read her the riot act, but I am still trying to negotiate all of the other boundaries. I'm trying to figure out exactly what punishment I should mete out, or if I should punish her at all. It all seemed so black and white before, before she started sobbing and telling me she knew she'd made a mistake. And then there was "the moment" ... when I realised, of course, that she did what she did because she is just so insecure, so desperate to be loved and to be accepted.
I said everything I was supposed to say, but I felt unsure about every word I said. Nothing prepared me for this. Nothing.