Tuesday, August 16, 2005


And I'm not doing a pirate imitation.

DD#1 and I have been driving each other crazy the last six months or more. I blamed it initially on "senioritis," a condition that afflicts high school seniors. But it's more than that. I think she's restless--she wants to be on her own, to be an adult, but she's not quite sure how to do it. She has never been very good about asking for help and, generally, she is quite competent on her own.

We've had some serious disagreements this last year, however, about her Girl Scout Gold Award (she blew it off), about her scholastic abilities, about college. She had made a decision to live with my mother across the Bay and attend a community college there. Fair enough.

I asked her about registration. She told me "it was taken care of." I asked her about placement tests. She didn't know about it; she didn't think she had to take one.

"I had to take one when I went and so did your brother," I pointed out. She shrugged.

She has been a camp counselor at a local Girl Scout resident camp this summer (getting that job was another story of frustration!) and, frankly, it's been kind of nice not having her home. DD#2 has had to assume some responsibilities, but she's discovering her own style. DD#1 came home from camp because the Japanese Scouts were here. I quickly discovered it was better if a third party asked her to do something like lead songs or be a patrol leader.

Yesterday I left a note asking her to follow up with her selected college. I came home and found her reading in her room. I got into mother-mode and said, "Register for class. Now."

And she discovered that she'd blown it. She did have to take a test and meet with a counselor. Registration is closed and classes start this week.

"Well, you'd better start looking at other community colleges, because if you don't have 12 units you're not covered by health insurance and you can't have your oral surgery." We've been waiting for this surgery for 18 months. It's part of her orthodontia care, which is paid for, but it's covered under our health plan. Her other option is to get a full time job with her own benefits.

Fortunately, one member of our Boy Scout Troop works at the local community college and can help DD#1 get classes at the last minute.

Still, I'm pissed. And I'm trying desperately to make this her problem and not mine. Except that, of course, it affects us financially.

Why, oh why, did she choose this year to become an airhead? I am so tired of hearing her say things like, "I'm not as smart as you think I am." Or, "I'm just average." I told Hubs that if she had worked hard and had given school or her Gold Award her best effort and had fallen short, that would be one thing. But I have the impression that she didn't even try. That she couldn't be bothered. That attitude is what truly upsets me because Hubs and I have always been hard workers. Doing less than my best meant that I let my family down; I let myself down. I thought I had passed that value on, by example and by exhortation.

Now I am second-guessing myself. Should I have insisted that we sit down together and go over her registration? Should I have demanded that she produce a schedule and made her stick to it for her Gold Award project? What could I have done differently so that she would see that she is shortchanging herself? That life is about overcoming challenges and that's how we grow?

This last year I've really wanted my daughter back--the one who would dress up in beads and my old negligees and dance around the room. The one who was not cynical or sarcastic, but who would laugh with pure pleasure. The one who was curious about everything. The one who believed in herself. She's in there, somewhere. I still catch glimpses of her. I want that daughter back. I want DD#1 to find her and embrace her. I don't know how to help her. I don't know if I can.