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Beloved and I took the girls on vacation this past week, which was school vacation week here in New England.

Originally, we were going to go to Spain – primarily Barcelona – but then the Economic Downturn hit the law firms, and our previously-thought-to-be-predictable bonuses were scaled back.  Fortunately, mine was not scaled back by much – we were still able to take care of most of our NEEDS.  It was scaled back enough, however, to make me feel that Spain was imprudent.

So we went to D.C.

We had wanted to take them for a long time, but many things were in place to make this year perfect:  Well, of course, Obama.  Also, E is doing key parts of American History in 7th grade this year.

J seemed considerably less excited leading up to the trip.  We couldn’t get her engaged in the travel books to say what she wanted to do – she kept saying ‘mm, yeah, that’ll be fine.”  So we were a little worried on that front.

We were also a little worried because this was (oddly) our first real “tourist” vacation with the girls.  We’ve gone on weekend trips, and we’ve gone to Disneyland.  But otherwise, the heavy travel that Beloved and I have done has been while they’re with the Ex.

Well, it was a resounding success.

We had a blast.  Oh, pictures, you say? I’ll give you pictures.

Washington Monument @ sunset, after a storm

Washington Monument @ sunset, after a storm

WWII Memorial

WWII Memorial

Pandas!

Pandas!

White House

White House

And, um, Escalators.

And, um, Escalators.

We did pretty darned close to everything while there (6 days).  It’s easier to list what we did NOT do:  The Jefferson Memorial; the Aquarium; Georgetown.  We did (I think) every Smithsonian museum that was open, the major monuments, the White House Garden Tour (see Michelle, Malia & Sasha’s veggie garden):

White House Veggie Garden

White House Veggie Garden

We also were able to watch the Senate in session, which was high up on E’s list.  It was both our most frustrating and most rewarding experience.  We’d gone all over D.C. — the White House, the museums, the Supreme Court building — and been through many security systems.  To all of these locations, we’d brought our metal (beautiful) water bottles, and in all of these locations, it was okay.  Actually, we thought it wouldn’t be okay at the White House, and so we left our bags in the hotel (2 blocks away), but others had brought theirs and it was okay.

But the Capitol Building was different.  We waited in line for a long time in the morning to get into the building.  When we finally got to security, one of the very official military-esque security guards barked at J to go outside and dump her water and said “have that guard out there check it before you come back in.”  We went outside and dumped them and asked the other barky military man to check them.  He laughed at me and said, “I just saw you dump it, it’s fine.”  So we went back in.  But then the barky military man who was looking at the x-rays told us we had to throw them away.  No bottles or cans in the building.

We were sad.  Beloved was even a little indignant, but I attempted to talk him out of it.  He and J ended up sitting outside the building with our precious (beautiful) water bottles while E and I went back in to see if we could figure out what was going on with the tickets I was told were on reserve for us.  Turns out the info I had was all screwy (thanks Kerry-staff), and what we really wanted (Senate Gallery Passes) had to be picked up at Kerry’s office – across the street.

We did follow through, and were very glad of it.  We were able to see the Senate in session (Beloved went to a photography exhibit elsewhere, with the water bottles) – although we missed the exciting debate over the “Truth Commission” – and the girls almost peed their pants when John McCain walked in to the chambers and engaged in the (unpopulated) debate.  We had fun seeing how many senators we could identify, loved watching the procedure of the vote (where the senators walk in, stand at the top of the steps and just wave at the woman doing the roll call  — she sees them, calls out their vote, and they turn around and walk back out).

The girls also had a lot more tolerance for museums than I thought they would.  J was a lot more into the art than I think she expected to be.  We stuck with modern art, for the most part, and the girls were happy.

We walked a lot, and packed our days full.  I am thrilled with how the girls held up, and think they’re definitely more than ready for a Europe trip.  Hopefully next year …

But in the meantime, we are definitely due for a BEACH vacation. One where we sit in a chair and read a book for 6 days straight.  I’m already choosing a rental in the Outer Banks for August.  Now I just have to see if I can swing another solid week off of work, especially since there’s an October trial looming ….

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E was a grouch tonight.  She didn’t really start off that way, but come dinner time, she was snapping at her sister and was the proud owner of a rather unattractive sneer.

after about the 15th eye roll, i asked her, “What is bothering you right now?”

Her response?

“I don’t know! [sorta snarky]  Nothing’s really wrong, but for some reason, everything is irritating me. [snark gone]  I don’t know why.”

I said, “wow, that was refreshingly honest.  Thanks.”

If she can maintain this transparency through her teenage years, I will survive.  I can talk to J instead when E is feeling that way.  I can eat my chili in silence.  I can respect the fact that she is a mass of roiling emotions and hormones and growing-up-ness, as long as she’s honest over rude.

After that interaction, she mellowed out, and we conversed normally for the rest of the meal.

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Years old!

Today was my birthday.

Through fantastic home cooked meals, disproportionate investments by offspring, phone calls from loved ones, and yes, Facebook Wall posts, I felt as loved and celebrated as I wanted to.

And through 10s of thousands of documents that HAD to be reviewed today, and the ever-growing to-do list at work and at home (i.e., kids’ school commitments, which may or may not include, oh, i don’t know, producing a major school play????), I was reminded that 3 dozen is far from 3.  Or One Dozen.  I am old.  And my birthday does not matter all that much, except to those who are dear to me.  And I thank them for their love and consideration.

Onward !!!  (because tomorrow is Beloved’s birthday!  And I have gifts to wrap, and a cake to wrap!!!)

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[not for the feint of heart]

Last night, E and I were sitting on the couch in our living room.  We had gone out to see Twilight with friends, then to Starbucks for a post-movie warm drink (so why the kids ended up with frappucinos is beyond me …)  We got home after 10.  I was so tahd.  I had a a tough day at work.

Because I am not all that traditional in my beliefs about “appropriate conversations with your kids,” I said, “E, I got my period today, and I have cramps.”  She said, “oh, poor mommy.”  And I said, “do you know when that means I will NEXT get my period?”  She did some quick math in her head, and said, “oh!  the 25th!”  And I said, “of what month?” and she said, “Decemb … oh, that sucks.”

Beloved and I have been enjoying an increased intake of green beans lately.  Law school is over, the stress of a first year at a new job is over, life is a little steady (even though he is in school …)

But we don’t like messy grean beans.

And so, on this Thanksgiving, we will be having some green beans in the traditional cream of mushroom soup with dried onions on top.  And that is it.

Sorry, Tranny-head, for the boring green beans post.  But I think it still counts.

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The beauty in my house.

1)  Beloved’s optimism.  He is not, by nature, an optimistic boy.  He was not, since March, an Obama fan, as I was.  But now – he’s just full of (sorry …) hope and excitement.  He loves what he’s seeing, and i love seeing him UNcynical about the way of the world.

2)  J’s sense of humor.  She is a very funny bird, and even after some tears and a minor catastrophe over a loose molar that she won’t wiggle and that may very well be impacted … she can crack jokes and make us all laugh until we want to pee our pants.

3)  E’s Mandarin skills.  How strange to have your offspring pick up a pen and create such very different language on a page.  I can’t believe how quickly she became so confident with her pen dashing across the page making … (to me) pictures.  She spent the later part of the evening writing out sentences for me in  Mandarin characters, phonetic Mandarin, direct English translation, and conversational English translations.  Wow!  (The best part may be how much she loves it, and that this activity was something SHE chose to do, and had fun with.

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Before we moved, I canceled all of our newspaper deliveries. 
 
We had been getting the New York Times on Sundays, and the Boston Globe every day. 
 
The reason for this plethora of paper and news was that last year, in about November, J’s teacher made a comment that she was one of the least informed in the class.  D. and I knew why.  We don’t watch the local news, or the mainstream news.  We occasionally watch the News Hour on PBS, but our schedule has shifted later and later to the point where we’re rarely settled and in front of the t.v. by 6 p.m. when it comes on.  We don’t watch the other news, because we don’t really CARE about the brutal slayings in Georgia or Idaho or wherever this week’s sexiest “news” story is happening.  We don’t care about the warped teasers thrown out before the commercial break.  We don’t care about the back door of some remote town’s school’s equipment shed that was left unlocked one night last weekend, causing a “safety concern.”  We don’t want to subject the girls’ precious little minds to the sensationalism and nonsense that comes with most news shows.
 
So when her teacher made the comment, we thought perhaps we should find a way to integrate the days’ events into the girls’ lives more.  (Even though E stayed aware, mostly through listening and participating in our conversations, her friends’ conversations, the internet, and her own general curiosity – something that J does lack in this area.  You might say that E is our budding activist while J is our budding Uninformed Voter.)  We decided the best thing to do was have the newspaper around.  Something she could come to when curious, but not have forced upon her. 
 
From November until July, we had stacks and stacks of newspapers in the house.  Underfoot in the entry way, almost always wrapped in their delivery bags until they were removed to be recycled at the end of the week. 
 
Hence, the cancellation upon the move.  But we missed the Sunday papers – which at least D read every week.  I more picked and chose through for the “fun” sections, but I read something every week.  On September 15, I went to the New York Times’ website and re-ordered the paper.
 
On September 21st, I heard the Sunday morning delivery person making his/her way down the street, with the “thunk thunk thunk” of papers on porches, and excitedly went to get my Sunday morning paper.
 
It wasn’t there. 
 
I pouted, but assumed my order just hadn’t gone through yet. 
 
Later that week, though, my bill arrived, and it said “Service Start Date:  9/21/08.”  I was too busy to worry about the $5 or whatever that I was billed for nothing. 
 
Then, on September 28th, again, the thunk, the running down the stairs (we live on the 2nd floor).  No paper.  The neighbors’ Globe was there.  But no Times. 
 
This time, I called.  They said there was a “production delay” in our area, and that we would not be receiving a paper that day.  I pushed whatever series of 700 buttons necessary to talk to a person to let them know I hadn’t received the paper the previous week, either.  They apologized, credited my account, and assured me that delivery would be normal the following week.
 
On October 5th, I trundled down the stairs with sleep still in my eyes clutching to the fantasy of brewing some coffee and reading the paper at my dining room table. 
 
Nothing.
 
Again, I called.  Again, they credited my account, and apologized that they would be unable to deliver a replacement paper because of some snag in production or a lack of a driver or something.  They were really nice.  I was pretty irritated.
 
October 12th.  Guess what?  No paper.  I called AGAIN, on the verge of, but not quite, seething.  They said that once again, there was a production delay, and we’d receive our paper by 10:30 a.m.  But at 11 a.m., I called again with no paper in hand.  Angry.  Now they were understanding the urgency.  They were going to “request an investigation” and “send a memo” to the distribution center.  They also were going to get me a replacement paper. 
 
I spent the whole day running to the porch at every noise and car door closing and balls bouncing.  No paper. 
 
D. suggested that we cancel the subscription.  He didn’t think they would believe us anymore.  He thought they would assume we were lying to get free papers.  He asked “are you sure they know we moved?”  And I told him:  every time I call, the recording asks “please confirm that your street number is ___.”  With the proper number – not the old (very different) number.  Then I showed him my statement, with my name, account number, and current address on it. 
 
Then yesterday – I was sure, after the investigation and all, that my paper would be there.  Of course I would have a paper now.  They investigated
 
So I ran downstairs to be greeted, once again, with an empty and dejected porch.
 
I called again.  I told them I needed to just cancel the damn thing.  The very friendly boy on the other end said, “I really wouldn’t want you to cancel your paper,” to which I had no choice but to exclaim in a possibly loud voice “BUT I DON’T GET A PAPER!!”  He pulled up my account and verified that I had, in fact, lodged “several complaints.” 
 
He did convince me not to cancel.  I mean, what’s the alternative?  It’s almost November.  It’s getting cold outside.  If I cancel the paper, then I’m committing myself to either 1) no paper (or continued on line reading, which just isn’t as cozy) or 2) trudging outside in the cold and potentially snow every Sunday morning to get a paper.  Ick!! 
 
I decided to mention the move to him.  It had occurred to me that perhaps it was the same delivery person as at my old address, and perhaps he just saw my name on the list, and since it’s a crazy-unique name, he just assumed he knew where I lived.  And kept plunking paper down in the lobby of the old building.  Perhaps stacks and stacks of weekly original AND replacement papers were barring the entry of the tenants of the old building, and the driver was pulling his hair out at the constant requests for new papers. 
 
This boy promised me a replacement copy.  And another investigation.  I rolled my eyes a little, and said goodbye. 
 
I checked a few times during the late morning, with the kids and the husband and now even the parents who were in for the weekend all laughing at me.  With good reason, I suppose.
 
But at 12:20, when my father and I were walking out the front door to go for a walk to buy a new potato peeler because I had a horrific experience helping D prepare the mid-day meal with the crappy-ass peeler that he last bought after we inexplicably lost 4 consecutive peelers just in the 4 months that we’ve lived in this house — guess what greeted me on the stoop? 
 
THE SUNDAY TIMES!!
 
I was so excited!!  I ran it upstairs and belittled D for being of little faith and for mocking my perseverance.  He rolled his eyes at me (something E is forbidden from doing so why he gets away with it, I have no idea) and then greedily snatched the precious blue bag from my hands. 
 
I did not actually read the paper until 9 p.m., but I did read more than I ever have before, and I put the Magazine in my bag for train reading. 
 
My father and I returned from the paper-finding walk at approximately 1:15.  They left for home at 3:30, and I walked out my door at 4:50 to trek to the Gap and other errands.  I was home at around 5.  E came home for the evening at 6:30. 
 
And this morning, I left my house at 7:06 a.m.  I opened the door to let the cat out before me, and he stopped to sniff yet another blue bag.  I thought perhaps it was the Monday paper – that they totally screwed up and put us on a daily schedule.  Or perhaps, they decided to try and compensate me for my frustration by adding to my recycling pile. 
 
But no – it was another Sunday paper. 
 
Now I’m wondering if a neighbor stole it, and put it back in the night time? 
 
Whatevs.  At least I was able to keep myself occupied with a pleasant distraction while watching the Red Sox lose last night … 

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We have been struggling in our house as of late with some changes coming about in E.  This pre-adolescence has been relatively calm.  I am grateful for my slower developer.  I am glad that I have time to get used to the attitude and the increased independence before I need to buy bras and tampons and listen to complaints about boys (or girls?).  I get to ease in. 

 
 
But for one area which has been painful.
 
 
The child (almost-not) eats like a freaking person obsessed.  She walks in the door “I’m hungry.”  She eats something and fifteen minutes later “I’m hungry” comes yet again.  Her desires could be worse – she wants to eat our TJ’s High-Fructose-Corn-Syrup-Free granola bars almost non-stop; she wants salami slices; she wants cheese.  We aren’t talking candy bars (although the granola bars are close, and we are phasing them out) and potato chips.  Or donuts and soda.  We’ve done a good job at getting her to understand nutrition and what’s important.   But we do have a “fruit first” rule, and she does resist it.  She also say after she has her “fruit first” she has to alternate other snacks with fruit in between.   This pisses her off. 
 
 
Does it really, though, have to be every 10 minutes?  And if I’m exaggerating with the 10 and 15 minutes, I can easily ground the conversation in reality by saying “she wants to eat every hour, perhaps less.”
 
 
We are working to put this more in her hands.  We don’t need to be developing eating issues – and part of me fears that her constant asking for food is actually coming from our up-till-now resistance more than it’s coming from hunger. 
 
 
These are the ideas we have:
 
 
1) a block cheese and some triscuits, to which she has complete access after school.
2) a tub of peanut butter and a tupperware of celery sticks, to which she has complete access.
3) teach her to make rice (a favorite of hers) and allow her to make a bowl for an after-school snack.
4) find some way to STILL insist that everything be intermingled with fruit while still maintaining a responsible hands-off approach.
5) find a way to insist that she still be hungry for dinner, with the same concerns above being addressed.
6) find a way for D. and I to disengage our frustration-buttons as she continues to ask for food and ask permission for food and ask for more food and then eat more food, and then eat 3 bites of dinner before saying “I’m not hungry.” 
 
 
FOOD!!  Argh!!! 
 
 
While J, on the other hand, maintains her vegetarian status.  We had to threaten her this week with a cessation of special-cooked meals on account of her leaving the table after taking 2 or 3 bites.  D. works hard to make her balanced meals that closely approximate the meaty items on our dishes, and sometimes she just wrinkles her nose and picks around the dish and walks away.  It’s getting to be a little deflating for the cook in the house who works so hard to be respectful of every one’s choices.  If she can just pick around the dish, then I think she can just pick around the meat and eat the non-meat.  D. understands the vegetarian a bit more than I do, though, having had his own forays into that lifestyle, and is willing to just put her on notice of what may be in store.  She seems to be taking the hint to heart, and being a bit more respectful in her own right of the work and consideration being put forth for her…
 
 
All the while I keep coming into work with my leftovers in hand just to find that I’ve been scheduled for yet another interview lunch and am forced to stash D’s fantastic cooking into the mini-fridge so I can partake in yet another 3 course meal designed to woo the best and the brightest to my firm; and to woo my gut into the next size of pants. 
 
 
grrrrr.

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When the girls are on the way out the door to their father’s house for their summer visit, and all of life feels like a giant goodbye, or an all-consuming waiting game.  There is some pressure (self-imposed, of course) to make it “special” or to ensure that they leave on a positive note.  Yet they’re antsy and hard to please.  I’m irritable, and don’t find it easy to please.

Add to the mix the looming move and the financial considerations that come with, and the stress is sort of icky for me.

I find myself counting down the days in the opposite manner of how I think I should be.  Instead of “oh no!  only 3 more days with the girls!”  I have more of a feeling that I can’t make it through 3 more days – thank god when I wake up tomorrow, it will be only TWO days!

We were going to spend the 4th down near the Charles River, as we’ve done in years past, but the weather is predicted to be stormy and chilly.  We did that last year, and were – quite frankly – miserable.  We don’t want to do that again.  So now we have to find a way to make that day work.

I kind of just want to move.  I want to pack.

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We saw Wall-e tonight.  It was fun, and it made us all laugh.  E’s favorite part was an allusion to an Iraq-related Bush-ism, “we have to stay the course!”  She nearly split a side.  (Update:  Beloved has found since that there is a good bit of debate going on about that line.  I think that’s just silly.  It just made us laugh.  The end.  Acknowledging, of course, that my personal opinions about Georgie Porgy make it nothing but laughable.  I’m just not inclined to analyze it more fully, b/c it was just a goofy line.)

So why, as we’re walking out, is a young couple going on and on about how the movie MUST only appeal to people over the age of 30.  It is too mature for children.  Kids won’t get it!

E and I were bickering over which of us should turn around and tell them that perhaps, before drawing conclusions about children, they should talk to a child.

Kids can’t understand loneliness?  Or is it the pollution that they can’t understand?  Can they not understand the joke about people becoming more and more stationary as we’re increasingly “plugged in”?  (E just finished 451 Farenheit for crying out loud!)  What part of that movie can “kids” not understand?  I mean, sure, your average 3 year old will probably just be laughing at the antics, and not at the substance and the Bush jokes.  But my 10 and 12 year olds had a thorough understanding of every aspect of that movie.

This past year, the girls’ school started a “Greening of [insert school’s name]” program.  I’m on the little committee for it.  We parents (moms, really) were acknowledging the fact that our kids have pushed us, the parents, into that room.  Our kids are the ones running around the house, turning off the lights.  Our kids are fretting over whether or not the earth will be in a livable condition by the time they’re our ages.  My kids are the ones who are upset with me for looking at buying a car.  My 12 year old and her friend that we randomly ran into at the theater were debating the practicality of fuel cell vehicles as we waited for the show to start.  Earlier in the day, while complaining about my Grand Plans to Purchase a Prius in 2009, my 10 year old came up with the theory that we have a moratorium on manufacturing new cars until an environmentally sound alternative to oil exists.  “And then maybe everyone will get so used to walking and riding bikes, that they won’t even want cars anymore!”

So, really?   Kids can’t/don’t/won’t understand?

In the end, neither E or I said a word.  But I wish we did.  Those people were dumb.

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Last night we found ourselves without a movie for our usual “movie and ice cream” Friday.  So we checked Direct TV, and found Romancing the Stone.  I checked the common sense media site that I have been loving for its non-religious candid appraisals of movies for kids – I love the fact that it will caution a parent over  gender stereotypes right alongside the sex, violence and drug cautions.  I have to check on these old movies, b/c I have the world’s shittiest memory for a 35 year old.  I am currently re-reading The Stand, b/c I was convinced that E should read it.  Beloved was like, “uh, it’s a great book, and I think she’ll love it – but not yet.”  But all I could remember was a trek across the country, and the re-establishment of a society.  So he got the book and put it in MY hands and said, “you re-read it first.”  So I’m re-reading it.

Uh.  Yeah.  E’s not reading this book until SHE is 35.  I can’t believe that I read it when I was (13?  14?).

So, I need to check things.

Romancing the Stone was rated as 13+, but the stuff they described wasn’t stuff that put me on edge (a woman in a wet t-shirt showing the outline of her breasts (we aren’t afraid of no breasts – at least not jof the mere sight of them), and a scene where people are lying on top of each other, clearly after having sex – didn’t really concern me that much).  So we watched it.  It was soooo appropriate.  I mean, I was a little worried about the post-sex scene, and thought that perhaps I would have to push pause or cover eyes.  But it was really nothing.  Really.

Then I was also worried beause the last time we watched a “movie of my childhood” it didn’t go over so well.  We saw the first Batman.  The one with Michael Keaton and Kim Bassinger.  I even said during the credits, “oh, Kim Bassinger is so pretty in this!”  Obviously, I forgot about the bad perm and the ugly 80s prom dress she wore.  The movie was horrible!!!

Romancing the Stone was fun, though.

Phew.

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So, have I mentioned we’re moving in 3 days?  Yikes!!

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My update post, and, hopefully, my last.  Our goal in this family is to stop focusing, to stop complaining, and to stop allowing this other family so much power in our own. 

We had the meeting with the principal, and Beloved and I were as satisfied as we could have been.  The guidance department is available for J when and if needed.  I was relatively pleased with the initial assumptions that J was telling the truth, and that Ex-BFF (and unfortunately, her mother at this point) were seen by more than just us as “bullies.”  

We flagged the issue, we ensured that J would be in a separate classroom next year. 

It may have helped that in the prior week, I was in 2 meetings with the principal on various administrative and volunteer matters … but it may not have, since Ex-BFF’s moms (aka – as of 6 months ago – my “friend”) has been in the same position for longer in this town, since we moved here at least 7 years after she did. 

There seemed to be a bit of peace settling over the situation.  

J had her bday outing – which was slightly bittersweet for me, since her bday last year was a joint party with the ex-BFF, with 20 something kids and Beloved running the tye-die t-shirt station.  True that both birthday girls ended the day exhausted and making plans for something smaller and more contained for their 10th bdays – but it was still fun, and joint, and generally okay.  

This year, J invited 5 girls, very carefully chosen based upon allegiances and odd loyalties, and we took them out to lunch, to the Clay Room (where we painted cups, figurines, coasters and dishes) and then out for ice cream.  J loved her day.  Her friends loved being with her.  It was a good day.

To me, it felt a little empty, a little sneaky, a little furtive.  

The day before, at soccer, ex-BFF approached  and threw an envelope at her.  It was a bday party invite.  I know her mom made her invite J, and I felt a little trapped.  

First of all, the Mom knew that we were having a small outing – we’d discussed it in a moment of cooperation and openness.  

Second of all, the girls can’t stand each other right now.  

Third of all, I know that The Mom makes Ex-BFF invite certain kids every year, based on The Mom’s ideas of tit for tat and such.

I felt that by inviting J, probably while knowing that J did not invite Ex-BFF to her own small outing, we were set up.  Perhaps I’m putting more Machiavellian motives onto The Mom than exist in reality … but I don’t think so.  

If I say no, then I’m a hater and a mean grinch-like being who refuses to allow our kids to be friends.

If I say yes, then I’m a User, who is willing to blow them off until the prospect of a fun party is dangled in front of me and my child. 

(spoiler alert:  we said no.)

In the meantime, between the girls, things were definitely calming down.  They were even able to sit at the same lunch table on one or two occasions, without sending hair and teeth flying.  I had started to suspect that J was developing an ultra-sensitivity that made me worry for her – made me fear that she was changing, as a person, and while 1/2 of me was thinking of allowing her the indulgence of her sister’s privileges, the other 1/2 was thinking “enough is enough, we’ve indulged this long enough, she needs to shake it off!”  

And that’s where I was – it is time to be done.  We can’t spend/waste anymore time with this nonsense.  They have as much power as we give them, and they deserve none, so we shall give them none.

And then, after I’d brought all of J’s friends home on the day of her bday extravaganza, my phone rang. 

I knew it was coming – a bit of a decompression, a checking-in.  The Call From The Mom.  

It was all brought back to the surface, as we talked it out.  I shared more stories – I expressed my disgust at the blame being placed at my feet – MY feet – an adult who has done nothing but welcome her child into my home, who has loved her through sideways glances at my amusement in her devilish glint.  Who has hosted the girls time and time again b/c of J’s tears at the idea of having to spend time at their house, where arguments often resulted in the girls finding solace in the Ex BFF’s tiny bedroom …. 

And then The Mom brought my stories to her child, who called both J and I liars and nasty folk who were out to do nothing but ruin her life.  The Mom rained upon me excuse after excuse (i.e., not all denials) for her shitty behavior.  She then asked me to help her find peace between the girls.  To sit down with them, and make nice.  Because after all, if we didn’t intercede soon, “they’ll never be friends again.”

Ah hah!  The goal!!

My response was written and re-written a thousand times.  It was laced with and then stripped of paragraph after paragraph of defensiveness and explanation.  

My end result:  No.  We’re done.  

We can’t do it anymore.  Of course, we could sit down, each with our kids, and we could watch J look bewildered, and Ex_BFF wrinkle her nose and glare at me through her eyebrows.  But as I said to The Mom, neither of them are going to say “Mom, I’m sorry, I lied before ….” just b/c we’re all together.  Whoever was being untruthful would dig in their heels and swear up and down that the other is from Hell.  What purpose is served? 

None.  

I thought of offering up the school’s guidance department, or an outside counselor – and if J had the goal of renewing and repairing a friendship, that’s likely what I would have done.  But since J wants space and distance – on account of the bruising that has happened throughout this long ordeal – that sentence was also deleted. 

A week after the final e-mail exchange, wherein I refused attempts at reconciliation for the girls (but re-extended my personal hand in friendship to The Mom), we were due to be at the same soccer game.  

I was a wee shakey in the guts.  But certainly went, proud of my past behavior and of my attitude (and first and foremost – proud of my daughter).  

We avoided each other a little (I was afraid of her spitting on me, since she didn’t respond to my measured but civil e-mail).  But by the end of the game, we were in a group of several parents, conversing as if there was nothing negative between us, laughing over shared knowledge of each other’s quirks and personalities.

This has been one of the hardest ordeals I’ve dealt with.  It’s been prolonged, and has tapped into my maternal instincts in a way that no other conflict has ever done before.  But at the same time, it’s become an end to a “friendship” in a way that is distasteful.  I am well-aware of the fact that over the years I’ve had 1,000 reasons to end that particular friendship.  Whether it be judgment she’s sent my way because of my divorce, or my lack of jewish-ness, my choices in raising the girls (i.e., they have too much clothes, and should not have iPods), my decision to work (even though she now does the same), my decision to hire babysitters, or my choice to ride a bike rather than drive a car (i.e., I should get out up onto the sidewalk when she’s driving her SUV, b/c by riding a bike, I’ve earned the privilege of her HITTING ME WITH HER CAR), or whether it be because of odd manipulations and prejudices that she’s given me in light of our friendship.*  I still wish that our friendship could have peacefully faded – that we could have been busy in other directions, or with other friends, or whatever.

I don’t like the conflict.  

I want everyone to love me.  (Deeeeeep Thoughts, By Zuska the Honest).

That’s what it comes down to.

But not more than I want J to be okay, and for her to be supported and advocated for.  So the bad taste in my mouth is more than acceptable.  I wish I could make this painless for J, but I can’t (and I haven’t), but I hope that at least she can learn that she is never stuck.  It’s true that there may be some discomfort required to get rid of misery, but that she has the inner strength to scrabble through the thorns to get to the other side.  

And this, I hope, concludes the final chapter of this particular theme.

 

 

 

 

*And my petty grievance:  The day that I gave 100% of my weekend, blowing off my birthday, Beloved’s birthday, a play the girls wanted to see, and not in a small part – sleep – for the sake of helping her out with her daughter’s Bat Mitzvah.  I was there from 7 a.m. until midnight on a Saturday, and helped with running errands on Friday.  I blew up balloons, became familiar with a Temple that I’d never entered before, (tolerated religion), negotiated with maintenance people, set up centerpieces, greeted guests, took care of aunts and uncles, and generally did all I was asked to do – just to be offended (perhaps selfishly and unnecessarily so) by the fact that when both Mother and Father of the Girl of Honor stood up during the party to thank all of those who helped with the set up and the details, I was totally overlooked.  The Mom was thanked, Her Twin was thanked, all of the other “helpers” (hired and friend-based) were thanked (there were, literally, 4 of us, sister and The Mom included …) . And when The Dad turned to his wife and said “who else?” … she shrugged, and they moved on.  Everyone at our table was shocked, knowing that I had been The Right Hand Woman for the day, and were offended on my behalf.  I blew it off at the time, but the moment has been revisited in my head on several occasions, and I suppose that I was quite hurt.

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