This year Maria is a sophomore and the only one of our children in high school. Both of her older brothers are attending college and there is no bus service to our Jesuit high school. Consequently Grant or I usually drive her to and from school. Next year she will have her license and will more than likely be transporting both her and Daniel to high school. So I have tried to savor the twenty minute drive when it’s just her and me. Alone. Talking.
Me: “Are you ready Maria? Do you have everything?”
Her: “Yep! Let’s hit it.”
We get in the car and drive about a half a block and start talking about what the name is of this one Jason Miraz song we both love. She reaches for her phone to look it up but does not find her phone.
Me turning to head back home: “Do you have your IPad?”
Her: “Of course I do! Duh. I need it for classes.”
We get back to the house and she runs in and runs back out in her funny Maria galloping way, with both her phone AND her IPad.
Me: “Wow! Earth to Maria! Have you landed yet? You’re so forgetful. I remember when you were five and had it all together.”
Her: Ignores me. “Thank you Jason Miraz! Whew!”
We drive some more. It’s pouring down rain and still dark.
Me: “Wow! This rain is making it really hard to see.”
Maria: “Mom! You don’t have your glasses on.”
Me: “Oh good it’s just that. Because for a second there I thought those bushes were MOVING.”
Maria: “Those are people in rain slickers.”
Me: “Maybe my glasses are in my purse. Can you look?”
Maria: “They are not in here. Your purse is so messy.”
Me: “You have no room to talk sloppy girl who forgets everything.”
Maria: “I just don’t know WHERE I get it. Besides. Sophomore year is just HARD. And I only forgot two things.”
I pull out my prescription sunglasses from the visor up above and put them on.
Maria: “Oh my gosh mom. You look like a blind person who is driving. Scary.”
Me: “Well, it’s better than seeing moving bush people.”
Maria: “You’re such a dork.”
I turn on Christmas music. That usually distracts her. Maria would listen to Christmas music all year long if she could. And I’m the dork.
Maria: “I’m sooo not participating in the ugly Christmas sweater thing this year. Nope. The whole thing is just ridiculous.”
Me: “Oh come ON! Last year’s sweater was hilarious!”
Maria: “Mom! You pinned Christmas oven mitts to my sweater. Santa and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer OVEN MITTS. As I was leaving the house Duncan called them mitts on tits. My whole day was awful. I will never forgive you.”
Me: “Well I will say that it’s clear now that I didn’t really think that one through. But come on. Mitts on tits is funny.”
Maria: “MOM!!! Just stop talking to me.”
4 seconds of silence.
Me: “What ever happened to those oven mitts? I liked them!”
Maria: “Mom! Stop!”
4 more seconds of silence
Maria: “I just love Christmas. It makes me so happy. It’s the best time of the year. I can’t wait for Christmas break. School just isn’t that much fun right now. It’s hard and I’m exhausted.”
4 MORE seconds of silence
Maria: “Don’t you CARE that it’s so hard and I’m so exhausted?”
Me: “You told me to stop talking.”
Maria: “Oh what evs. You know I didn’t mean it.”
Me: “Tote magoat daughter.”
Maria: “It’s totes magoats. Emphasis on the S. You’re so funny when you’re trying to be cool.”
Me: “I wasn’t trying to be cool. I was mocking you. I’m already cool. Stevie Wonder cool. I don’t even have to try I’m so coolio.”
We look at each other as we come to a stop at red light and start laughing.
I have always liked being with my daughter but as she grows into this amazingly beautiful woman who is also smart and funny I actually look forward to being with her. I am so astounded by how level headed and focused she is and actually find myself looking to her for advise as often as she does me which makes for a really great friendship. Putting aside the typical mother daughter fights, I have to say I’m quite lucky to have her still want to hang out with me. Of course she is often forced to right now. She needs me for wheels. Soon I will lose her a little more to further independence when she is driving.
But for now I will savor her while I can.
All of her.
We pull up to the curb of the school. I tell her how gorgeous she is today (because she is) and she knuckle bumps me and starts to get out of the car. “See ya mommio. Have a great day!” But then sits back down. “Crap! I forgot my piñata stuff for Spanish!”
I sigh and tell her I will get her stuff to her before her next class, swallowing the compulsion to lecture her about the fact that I have this thing called a job I need to do and that now we are up to THREE things she has forgotten. She humbly says thank you and that she OWES me and waives goodbye with her vibrant, light the room up, braces grin.
I drive away and take off my sunglasses. It’s not near as much fun wearing them without her in the car. I go instead to singing about how to solve a problem like Maria and some made up song about being the best mother in the Whole! Wide! World! Because even though she’ll probably thank Jason Miraz for her piñata stuff, I’m glad it’s me who gets to drive Miss Maria.