In which Jessie and Drummer Boy (soon to be re-christened muscleman or the Megalodon, as soon as I get his permission) plan a day that goes awry, but is rescued by new shoes and great problem-solving WITHOUT me!
With Jessie, there is always a curve ball. Every day, every event, every outing (planned or unplanned) seems to go just a bit screwy at the last minute. There is the random coyote-generated universe trickiness (“Mom, you have to come pick me up. I can’t get the #2 bus to get home because there IS no bus.” “????” “I don’t know why. There just isn't a bus!.” “Where are you?” I don’t know.” “Uh, then how can I pick you up? Look for a street sign.” “Okay. [SFX: walk, walk, walk] I’m at Bank and Lewis.” “Are you sure you can’t get to the bus?” “Mom, there IS NO BUS! And the road is blocked by POLICE.” I am beginning to see that this might be a problem. I hop in the car, and when I get there, I see that there is a protest march going on and the police have indeed blocked one of the main roads through downtown. Which means I can’t get to Jessie. Which means I have to think about HOW to get to her, or her to me. And, well, you know how it goes.)
Then there is the Jessie-engineered curve: (“W-e-ll, I was GOING to brush my teeth and get dressed before leaving. But then, I ran out of time? And I had to get the bus? And I really, really, really like these pajama bottoms? So, I just, like wore them? And they have cheetah spots, which are my favorite. And so, yeah. But now work says it’s not “appropriate” for work? So I have to come home. So can you pick me up?”)
Or the interesting and unpredictable lack-of-skill scenario (“Mom, I am stuck on a little patch of grass in the middle of the road in the mall parking lot and there are SO MANY CARS GOING FAST!!!! YOU HAVE TO COME GET ME! I AM GOING TO DIE!” Unfortunately, there is no talking down or out of this one. The only solution involves a car key, a hasty note to a waiting client, and a quick wave to passing motorists as I dart through traffic onto the median and grab my daughter by the hand to lead her, sobbing, to safety.)
And while there are always curve balls, I am trying not to hold on tight and to encourage Jessie’s sense of herself as an effective problem solver. It is, well, hard sometimes. Okay, honestly? Most of the time! In fact, the only way I have been successful in letting go is when I physically leave the house. That seems to be the only way to loosen my grip on parenting. Which is doing great things for my friendships, but not for my work.
So. Yesterday I was at my friend CG’s for lunch. I was telling her about Jessie’s afternoon plans to meet Drummer/Muscle Boy at the mall—they were going to take the bus to meet the Boy’s mother at her work, and they were all going to look at the Boy’s new furniture.
I was trying to impress CG with my growth in “letting go.” This seems to be a big theme among the mothers I know and drag out for hikes and coffee and random book browsing.
“You see?” I was saying, with my story, and perhaps aloud, just in case she hadn’t noticed.
“I didn’t even make her look up the bus or tell me any details! I didn’t question HOW they were getting there or WHEN they were meeting! I showed her that I totally trusted her and drummer/muscle boy!”
At that moment, my cell rang. CG has lived, and rescued, our life enough to know that that was probably Jessie. And she was right.
“So, like, Drummer Boy can’t get hold of his mom. She’s not answering her phone. So I’m going to meet him at the college and we’re going to work out together and then go out for dinner.”
I restrain myself from asking if she knows what bus stop to get off at or how to find her way to the gym. I also restrain myself from asking if she has enough money or suggesting that she make a healthy choice for dinner. I also do not ask how they are going to meet up or when she might come home. Do you see how hard I am working here?
I do say: “That sounds like fun Jess!” and “Call me when you hook up with Drummer Boy!”
Phew. Well-negotiated Nan! I smile at CG. She gives me a thumbs-up.
We are past the raspberry and brownie dessert and well into the tea and coffee when my cell rings again. CG’s eyebrow goes up.
“Hi, Jess.” [Notice that I do not even ask: What’s up?]
“O.K. So. Like I’m wearing my crocks and I forgot my running shoes and you can’t go to the gym with crocks so Drummer Boy bought me a pair of running shoes . . .”
“…..” That’s me pausing and processing. My daughter has size 3 DDD feet. Not the easiest to buy shoes for. And I’ve seen what Drummer Boy wears, usually shoes about 4 sizes too big for him. We are going to end up with expensive shoes that don’t fit and that are going to trip her up in the gym, where she will end up with a concussion or a major injury. And the store at the college would never even have shoes in children’s sizes. What the heck…
“Hey Jess, you know it’s not easy to get shoes for your size feet, right?”
“But the salesman helped us, size 3! I told him size 3!”
“Size 3? They have size 3? Where are you?”
“At New Balance, at the mall across the street from the college.”
New Balance. The ONLY place in the whole city that has shoes that fit her off the rack.
What can I say? Drummer Boy just scored big time with Dragon Mom.
I raise my eyebrows at CG, wanting her to note what I am going to say next.
“Jess. That is so brilliant! You guys ran in to a lot of challenges today and you figured it all out! What great problem solving!”
CG is giving me the thumbs up. I am indeed the new queen of letting go.
“Just remember to get the receipt, because you have to pay Drummer Boy back and you don’t really know how much . . .”
CG is now giving me the chop off your neck sign.
I quit while I am ahead.
It's hard work, this letting go.
But getting easier with my coach. ‘Cause that’s what friends are for!