Thanks to the recent cold spell here I decided that instead of turning the kids into icicles while waiting for the bus, that I would just drop them off. Because Madisons school is further than the rest, and because her school also starts later than the boys, her and I had a chunk of time. Where it was just her and I. I didn’t think much of it until she looked over and me and popped the question. The one we all dread, or atleast, I do. Even though I didn’t know I did.
“How do you know when you finally have…the right…one…” she sighed.
And I choked on my coffee.
Shes FOURTEEN. She shouldn’t be asking these things. Closer to fifteen, she so wisely pointed out when I tried to meet her question with a debate. As if it was debatable. I spent the next twenty minutes removing any doubt that she will come to me with any future questions. The conversation ended with me saying something about age, and her rolling her eyes and slamming the door.
I take that as a good sign. Atleast she heard what I said. Right?
But through out the day, I came back to our twenty minute conversation. Replaying it, pausing, repeating. Going over and over it, again and again. Asking myself different questions. Playing out different scenarios. Trying, to find some sort of an answer. Am I holding her back? Trying to keep her from something she will find, like it or not? Should I have offered her some words of advice instead of an argument? Sure, there are many different ways it could have, should have played out. And if I could have gone back and fixed things I probably would have only change the fact that I let her OUT OF THE TRUCK and OUT OF SIGHT after she asked such a question.
Honestly? I think shes too young to be questioning things like this. But its bound to happen, and I could have atleast given her some pointers. Like “Hey how about you wait until, oh I don’t know, you get your drivers license? Why yes, Madison, if you stop thinking about these things I will let you get your license. And a hundred and one dogs if I must.”
This is not how I pictured things. This life. These things.
Years ago, people would ask me “Wow. A girl. What are you going to do when she gets older?” At the time the only thing I could think of was “If we make it that long.” But I would usually answer the question with a smile, a nod of the head and a simple “We will cross the bridge when we get there.” But now? I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to answer the questions. I don’t know how to tell her what I want her to know.
I want her to be happy, but I want her to be safe. And I want her to be smart. I want to keep her from more heartache that she doesn’t need. I want to keep her from giving her heart to some…boy…who will not handle it with care. I don’t want her to settle on anything less than she deserves. I don’t want her falling for the first person who tells her shes pretty, and I don’t want her thinking shes somehow less, because she didn’t get asked out by the person she hoped.
In short, I guess I want to bottle her up and set her on the shelf until these years have passed. Because I know shes not ready, and Im certainly not ready.
Shes smart. Shes pretty. And I don’t want her being taken advantage of. Because shes hoping for “The right one” to come in and sweep her off her feet only to drop her a few feet down the road. Because shes still young. Too young.
When she got home last night, I pulled her off to the side and told her I was sorry. I told her that I loved her, and only wanted what was best for her. And that if she wanted to talk about something I hoped she knew she could still come to me, and I wouldn’t promise, but I would try not to take her head off. She stared at me as if I had officially lost my mind.
“Earlier…” I said. “When you asked me how you would know if you had the one…”
She looked confused, and then burst into laughter.
And said something about finding the right “ONE” as in the right answer. For a problem she had already solved. That had something to do with her friends. And then she laughed again. And shook her head. And walked off. Laughing.
Which is good. Because I wasn’t ready for this.