The long Friday night drive wasn't always contentious. It used to be filled with chatter, and music, but the silences changed once she discovered personal music systems, and my radio station choices weren't cool enough. Oh, we still talk, and these days it's about the big stuff, more often than not -- drugs, alcohol, sex, who is doing what to whom and why that matters -- but it's not the same as it used to be. Now, getting in the car sometimes feels like being trapped for an hour and a half with a caged animal, unpredictable, wrought with emotion. I try to look at this time as a place for her to unload, and to explore ideas and discuss things, but some of the ideas push those hidden, super-sensitive buttons in my psyche, and the drive turns into a couple of hours of parental verbal and emotional flailing.
Silence. Wild gesturing. Accusations, sarcasm, bitterness, drama.
And not all of it from me, either.
It's hard to remember she is just fourteen, an age that seems simultaneously grown up and still so childish. Interminable, and instantaneous. She will not hold on to these views forever. YOU did not hold on to your views forever.
She will be all right.
I struggle against the outside influences that I don't want her to be immersed in, as any good parent does, try to help her steer her ship through the stormy sea of adolescence without actually steering it FOR her, but the sea is full of flotsam, and the sharks are everywhere. It's hard to teach her to see the rays of light through the clouds, when they are constantly shifting and disappearing in her view.
The world is inherently a good place, people are basically good. Don't be naive, but look at the world with joy. Don't be afraid of the dark elements that exist -- you can avoid them, even if others with you do not. Don't judge too much, or hold yourself up too high. While there will always be someone who may do something better than you do, there will never be another YOU like you.
Sometimes I feel that quiet desperation that my job is almost done -- have I done enough? Have I taught the right things, imparted the wisdom she won't even understand for a few years yet? It's a breathless feeling, knowing that "life's like an hourglass, glued to the table".
We arrive, finally, without the arguments that have been so prevalent of late. A few minutes to pet the ponies, to chat about horses, and then she is ready to leave me. I hug her as completely as she'll let me. "I love you, have a great weekend!" I call, as I do every time I leave. I don't expect to hear it in return, though I know she means it.
Unguarded, "I love you, Mom!", as she runs into the house.