I may have mentioned once or twice or twenty times that Chickadee has joined just about every possible club, group and team available to her this year, save for the ones that involve actually sports. (“I am not a sports person,” she explained to me in all earnestness, and I swear I only spent a few hours trying to convince her that roller derby might be her true calling. She remains skeptical. I am SO renting Whip It for her as soon as humanly possible, though.)
Most of her choices made sense to us. Academic team, math league, yoga, Yearbook… no surprises there. But then came the day that she came home and asked me to sign her form for Future Farmers of America.
“Are you planning to be a farmer?” I asked her, greatly amused. This is the same child who screams at the sight of bugs and whose usual response to nature is “GET IT OFF ME!”
She—predictably—rolled her eyes and sighed.
“FFA is about science projects and stuff, MOTHER,” she informed me. “We’re going to do a PROJECT and there’s PRIZES and stuff.”
Oh, well then. Prizes. I should’ve known.
And that first day when I signed the slip, Chickie may have left out one other important point—the projects get taken to the Fair. The Fair that’s two hours away. And they go on a school day, and miss the entire day of school, and by the way, could she have $15 for a midway pass so that she could ride the rides?
Yes, this was a decision born of a love for SCIENCE. If by “science” you mean “rollercoasters.”
In the end, she and a friend put a lot of time into their project, and except for the part where they “forgot about it for a couple of days” (um, oops?) I think they worked really hard. We agreed to split the cost of the midway pass with her, which seemed like a reasonable compromise. And today she’s off to the Fair, riding rides, presenting her project, and probably eating her weight in junk food.
Things have actually been pretty calm around here, lately. I mean, don’t get me wrong; she’s still twelve-and-a-half-and-why-do-you-treat-me-like-a-child-STOMP-STOMP-SLAM and, well, that’s pretty self-explanatory. Hormones and emotions do run high at this age. But she’s been pretty good. I am awfully fond of her, and the moments when I would like to shake some sense back into her are thankfully not all that frequent.
That said, last night I was urging her to get packed up and organized for today, because the bus for the Fair was departing at an unholy early hour. She complied with no problems, but then I asked her what she was planning to wear. (Her school requires uniforms. Skipping school for the Fair all day meant picking her clothes. Very exciting.) She responded that she was planning to wear a skirt and a tank top.
Otto pointed out that a skirt on the midway (particularly given her love of rides that spin and jerk and go upside down) might not be such a great idea. I pointed out that a tank top on a day when the forecast is for it to be 90+ and you have a skin condition which is severely aggravated by sun exposure might not be the best choice.
And then her head started spinning around. Because we are MEAN and we NEVER LET HER DO THINGS and ALSO WE ARE MEAN.
So it was all set to become an argument. We were all right there on the precipice; she was freaking out, I said again that I was saying no to a tank top while she insisted she would wear sun screen, and then I just looked at Otto and he looked at me and I took a deep breath and just… stopped. “It’s not up for discussion, and it’s not a punishment, it’s because it’s my job to protect you from yourself. If you burn your shoulders—which you almost certainly will, being outside for an entire day—you will be miserable for the rest of the week. You’re probably going to have a sun reaction, anyway. I am just telling you to cover your shoulders. The end. Wear a regular shirt or don’t go, okay?”
She glared at the floor. I kissed her unyielding head and walked away. And two minutes later everything was fine again, and this morning she wore a t-shirt (and a skirt and LEGGINGS ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?) and packed her sunscreen and for all I know she also packed a tank top and changed as soon as she got to school, but I prefer to believe that we are learning how to interact more productively. So.
Also—in case you’re wondering—she already told me she wants to quit FFA “right after the Fair.” Of course.