You’re driving along in the car with her, heading to school or coming back from an activity. Perhaps she sends you a message or text. (Don’t worry Emma, the one you sent the other night remains our secret.) Maybe you simply walk in during one of her conversations with someone else. You’re not mistaken. You did hear it. Well, not “it” as much as you…or me. Me, myself and I…and her. Something said with seriousness or completely for comedic purposes validates in that very moment that she lives in you, you live in them and sometimes they seem just a tad bit more advanced than you ever were. Of course, in all fairness, we didn’t have the Internet.
I’m reminded of a brief mother-daughter exchange from a scene in the movie “Dirty Dancing” that has remained with me over the years for some reason. It’s the summer of 1963 and the Housemans have just finished dinner that evening after arriving at Kellerman’s Resort, the fictional getaway in the Catskill Mountains reserved for affluent families. Recognizing the amount of food left on the table Mrs. Houseman says “Look at all this leftover food. Are there still starving children in Europe?” Baby replies with a tone of correction “Try Southeast Asia mom.” So why am I reminded? Well, it’s typically not for reasons of social justice. And not even because it’s one of my all time favorite movies. No, I’m reminded simply because my daughters, like Baby Houseman, can respond so quickly to the errors made by their mother, as I’m sure I often did to my mother. But, I’m also reminded that my influence, while failing to meet its objective at times, is definitely making the journey to within, just as hers made to me.
So how does that play out in 2014 as opposed to the fictional 1963? Well, it’s been an unusually cold winter, as we’re all aware. As such, this perpetually cold mom prefers to have her driver’s seat warmed before braving the cold to bring Emma for the 3 – 5 minute round trip to and from school. During those frigid mornings (yes, it’s New Orleans, I know, get over it), I had taken to asking my sweet angel to run out into the cold, start my car, turn on the defroster if necessary, and of course, engage the heat and heated seats to full power! Emma prefers to get to school early so I used the warmth as my bargaining chip. You see, it’s REALLY hard to get me out of bed into a cold house, much less a cold car. Well, a couple of weeks ago I walked outside and noticed the car wasn’t running. I thought perhaps she had warmed it and then turned it off. I got in, noticed my seat was cold and stated with somewhat believable indignation “My seat’s not even warm!”. The social justice was then unleashed. In response, with utter disbelief in expression and tone, my baby girl retorted “Some kids in Antarctica don’t even have warm. Don’t be rude and greedy Mother!” She didn’t even crack a smile. We continued our journey to school…in the cold.
While the comment was rooted in sarcasm…I was there. I was definitely there. How else would she have known to compare my situation to that of the imaginary freezing children of Antarctica? Where else would she have heard countless considerations of other children over the course of her short life span? They are me. And I am her.
As my 12 year old baby girl and I often say…Indeed!