|Jinny has been very ill and is currently undergoing rehabilitation in a Bangor facility so she will not be writing her article for awhile. She is making excellent progress and hopes to be able to return to writing her column in the near future... Adele.
The other day I was listening to a radio show with a panel that meets once a week to discuss relationship issues. This panel is made up of various mental health and behavioral professionals of both genders who are recognized by someone somewhere as being experts in their fields. They certainly had a lot of credentials if that indicates anything.
The topic of discussion was mother-daughter relationships. Evidently, they are often highly dysfunctional. There was a lot of psycho-babble about competition for male attention, unresolved ambitions, unattained goals, and a lot of other stuff that basically amounted to jealousy and resentment between mothers and daughters. Each panel member had something to say about these relationships, why they were messed up, and therapeutic methods designed to try and fix them. It was interesting, if a bit disheartening.
All this discussion naturally got me to thinking about my relationship with my own daughter. We had our ups and downs during her teenage years, of course, she hated me for her entire 6th grade year, but it all worked out in the end.
My daughter began her life as the easiest of my three kids to actually have. She was born quickly and with minimal fuss. She was also the only one who came into the world screaming her lungs out. After she was cleaned up and had calmed down they handed her to me and I got my first real look at her. The most amazing thing about her were her eyes, which were not the sort of watery blue of many babies, but a vivid blue green, amazingly intense, wide open, and giving me a look of complete contempt. I felt as if I could clearly read her mind and that she was looking at me and wondering who the heck I was and what gave me the right to interrupt whatever she was doing in the womb? It was a little disconcerting.
From the very beginning Katie was very much her own person, with a powerfully independent personality. Potty training her was a breeze because she was obviously determined to do it. She walked at 10 months because her brother, who was only 13 months older, was walking and would leave her behind which really annoyed her. When it was time to learn to tie her shoes she told me to show her how to do it once and then go away so she could practice. I shrugged and knelt in front of her to tie her shoes, never imagining that she would get it after one time and then left the room. Much to my surprise, she came out about 20 minutes later with both shoes tied. She had taught herself to do it, but because I had tied them in front of her instead of behind her, she had taught herself to tie bows left handed, and still does so to this day.
Katie was always somewhat of a tomboy, coming so close behind her brother and wanting to do whatever he did. When she was 2 she asked me for a pink shirt with a truck on it. As you can imagine, this was impossible to find so I ended up buying a truck appliqué and sewing it onto a pink shirt instead. She loved that shirt.
We were crossing a street one day when she was 4 and I told her to take my hand. She did, but remarked that she would be glad when she was bigger than I was and I would have to take her hand instead. This kind of thing was typical of Katie, she wasn't angry, she was just the kind of personality that longed to be captain of her own ship from an early age and there was no doubt in her mind that she would end up bigger than I was. This turned out to be true since I am barely 5'3" and she is 5'7 1/2"
Katie was always a fierce little thing, passionate in her sense of right and wrong and always ready to jump into the fray to defend the weak and protect the innocent. She defended her brother like a tigress whether he needed it or not and hated bullies and those she referred to as, "meanies".
When she was in second grade I got a call from the school informing me that I needed to get up there right away because my daughter had hit a boy on the playground. I was horrified because my kids never got in trouble or behaved violently towards anyone. When I got to the school I found her in the Principal's office sitting in a chair with her arms crossed over her chest and a look of absolute stubborn fury on her face. Her brother, who had witnessed the incident, had refused to leave her and was sitting next to her looking as if he would attack anyone who came near her. The victim was sitting on the other side of the room wailing like a banshee and sporting a rather shocking black eye.
The Principal informed me my daughter had hit the boy and was refusing to say why she had done it. Evidently, both she and her brother had refused to speak at all until I got there. I turned to Katie and asked her why she had hit the kid.
"He grabbed me and tried to kiss me!" she said, all fiery indignation and affronted dignity. "He slobbered all over me and tried to lick me!" She was obviously still seething. My son, Jamie piped up that he had seen the whole thing and Katie was just defending herself.
The Principal cleared his throat nervously, looking quite shocked and horrified. I couldn't blame him, this boy was all of 7 years old. Nevertheless, he was compelled to do the politically correct thing and told Katie that although he understood her anger, hitting him was not the appropriate response. She should have just gone and told a teacher. "I'm sure your mother agrees with me." he added.
"Actually," I responded, "her mother does not. Her mother has taught her to take care of herself, never stand for behavior like this from males, and clock anyone who touches her in an inappropriate fashion."
The poor man looked as if I had just betrayed the secret code of parents and teachers and started to visibly perspire. Katie looked at me as if I had given her the perfect birthday present, the kid who had dared to touch her wailed louder, and my son snickered. It was a Kodak moment.
In the end they were required to apologize to each other, which Katie did with a distinct lack of sincerity. When we were leaving, Jamie ran back and said something to the kid with the black eye. On the way home I asked him what he had said.
"I told him that he was lucky he only had a black eye and that if he ever did it again I'd hit him in the other eye and Katie would bite his tongue off." He looked very pleased with himself. Fortunately for the young man and my sanity, that was the end of it.
I don't know about other mothers and daughters but I adore mine and wish that I had been more like her as a kid. I was painfully shy and timid. My Katie was, and still is, a stunningly beautiful warrior princess, the apple of my eye, and hands down, my very best friend in the entire world. If every mother and daughter had what we have, those guys on the radio would never had their 15 minutes of fame.