Sunday, April 30, 2006


Katie was born at home, under the care of a wonderful lay midwife (what's Susie doing in Alaska?!? I didn't know that!). It was a very easy labor (you can call your labor very easy from a distance of 13 1/2 years) - lasting about 8 hours, during which I took a long walk around the neighborhood with Susie, hung out by the apartment pool listening to the water sounds, watched Monster in a Box, and finally took a shower through the last few mind-wiping white contractions before it was time to take to the bed and push that sucker out. I was clear and conscious the whole time, if a bit loopy with endorphines and adrenaline by the end. When she was born the midwives laid her on my tummy right away, and within a few minutes she was nursing.

So it can't be that they switched bassinets at the hospital.

Some of it is normal teenaged rebellion, but Katie is so unlike me. She and her older brother Eric look a lot like their dad and nothing like me at all. Eric has his grandfather's propensity for backing you into a corner and droning at you about things that don't remotely interest you until you begin to consider chewing off your own arm, not so much because it would help you to escape as because it would break up the monotony a little.

(His paternal grandfather, I mean - not you, Daddy!)

Katie seems to have inherited her paternal grandmother's temperament. My ex-MIL is at heart a really good and caring person. (And if you'd told me ten years ago that I would be saying that, I wouldn't have believed you.) But like her, Katie is completely out of control of her emotions. They govern everything she does, and they're volatile: from affection to fury. Honestly, I don't know whether she's going to get knocked up or kill someone first. But if it's "kill someone," that someone will probably be me.

Last night I told her to get off the computer - she was on chatting with "friends" - I really believe in allowing kids their privacy; the computer's in the living room where everyone hangs out, but I wouldn't snoop on her, although there are time limits on her use and she's been repeatedly warned that the chatosphere is heavily populated with 50-year-old perverts. (Hi guys!) But she's being home-schooled - rather against my wishes, actually - and needs social interaction with kids her own age; several of her friends from her old school in Corpus are on her contact list. Additionally, she's always been very weak in writing and spelling and doesn't much care for reading (again, switched at birth?! Hello?!?) so I think that expressing herself in writing is good exercise for her. Though it's a bit dubious whether l33tsp33k counts as writing practice.

However, 11:30 at night is way past chatting hours. I told her to get off the computer. "Just a second," she said. Five minutes later I told her again. "Just a second!!" she repeated, getting pissed off. After another two minutes I said, "Okay, you've had more than enough time to wrap this up. You're off NOW, I'm getting really tired of this."

"Well, I'm getting really tired of YOU!"

Skeevy little brat. I slave over a hot mainframe all day to support my family, and this is the thanks I get?

So I order her once more off the computer, and since she doesn't seem to be moving in that direction I grab her shoulder; she shakes me off and storms off to her room and slams the door. This isn't too atypical and I was only slightly upset, so I sat down planning to write about Eeyore's Birthday Party, which was completely awesome by the way, but that's all I'm probably going to write about it. I had a wonderful time.

But then Katie's door opened again and she stormed past me, her shoes on, out the front door. I asked where she was going - again, 11:30 at night - and she said, "Wherever I want!"

Can't let that one go by, unfortunately. I followed her outside and told her she certainly wasn't going out walking at 11:30 at night, and for the first time in her life she actually completely refused to obey on this and I had to physically subdue her... not that I did. I actually had to struggle with her in the parking lot. I didn't know what to do but to hold on and not let go. There were a couple of times I thought she was going to punch me. I just tried to stay calm and hang on and after a couple of minutes she suddenly turned around and stormed back to the apartment, thank God, because she's nearly my height and a bit heavier than me and I couldn't possibly have physically forced her. She was shouting at me and I was embarrassed and afraid.

Once we got back in she screamed at me and cried and stormed off to her room again, came back out a few minutes later to show me some rather nasty-looking long scratches on her arm, accidentally inflicted while she was trying to pull away, yelling, "Are you happy now?!" Then she stormed off and slammed her door again. Somewhere in here my husband noticed that something was going on and went to talk to her briefly about how even if her mom is wrong, she still has to do what I say. Gee, thanks. And I went to bed and cuddled up with Anna, who had fallen asleep there after we got back from Eeyore's.

Anna's the only one of my kids who takes after me, though she's definitely a lot stronger-willed and will never be anybody's pushover. But in terms of temperament and taste we're a lot more alike. Maybe her teen years will be easier. I held her and remembered when Katie was her age, how she was my cute little bug-girl and so much fun to take everywhere because she was so adorable; and how now she's awkward and adolescent and gets on my nerves, maybe because she's so many of the things that made me hate myself when I was her age. I thought about how I never seem to have managed that whole unconditional love thing you're supposed to have for your kids; that I do what I have to in order to take care of them, but often don't feel that I particularly like them. I'm so bad about just shutting off to people when things aren't working out and discarding relationships rather than working to fix them; but you can't do that with your kids, at least not without spending a small fortune in boarding school tuition.

I held little sleeping Anna, whom I love so much it almost hurts, and wondered if I will lose her the same way, and cried myself to sleep.


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