My worst nightmare is looking into the future and seeing a teenage daughter whose face is so like mine, except pierced on the eyebrows thrice, and who is so…like…totally… a…freak.
“FYI Anabelle,” she’d say breezily as she walks into the kitchen. “I’m going to a sleepover at Joe’s tonight. So I need your car keys, your credit card and a couple of jell-o shot recipes.”
“What about my permission? You think you’d need that, too?” I speak sarcasm and condescension, the official language of teenageland.
She rolls her eyes. “Puh-leeze. This is no longer the Victorian times. Besides, it’s not like it’s just going to be the two of us. There’s a bunch of people partying. It’s the Oscar party with a red carpet and photographers, me as Scarlett Johanson, Monique Lhuillier dress, all that and a bag of chips. Can you imagine? ”
Images of slinky satin backless, low-cut red gowns on more freaky alcohol and drugged bodies catwalk and stagger through my mind. I shudder. “Oh gee, since you put it that way, the answer is still NO! And you are not to call me by my first name. That’s M.O.M to you.”
“Your are an M.O.S. is what you are.”
“Mom Over my Shoulder.”
“Honey, does it say 'friend' on my forehead? Or 'groupie'? I’m a mom and I will not cheer you on your immodest clothes. Plus, you still need my permission.”
“Flash, Mother: I didn’t ask you for permission. I was merely informing you of my plans." She pauses to check on her purple fingernails. "My therapist warned me about you, you know, that you are so co-dependent and controlling, you think I'm a video game and you've got like... the Wii control stick."
“Your therapist?” My eyes are as big as the bra pads she's stuffed in her chest. We had priests as counselors not too long ago, but a therapist and one that I didn't consent to seeing?
She nods, bobbing her orange hair up and down like an airy basketball. “Yeah. You may have known them as 'guidance counselors' in your day. She says I should disown you because I do have rights as a Child. One little phone call to Child Protective Services is all it takes.”
I gasp and hold onto the cold sink to steady myself. “You have crossed the line, Child. The Ten Commandments say honor your father and your mother…”
“So sue me,” she says. “Good luck though cause in case you hadn’t noticed The Ten Commandments were banned from government back when Botox was still big. It’s like the most worthless, antiquated law really.”
“Is that what they teach you in school?”
“Huh? They stopped teaching those in school… like… way back when benzoil peroxide and mud masks were used to treat acne. You really should quit hiding yourself in your Bible, Mother.”
“I will not tolerate any disrespect in my house…” I begin.
“You could just send me off to Joe’s tonight if you want a little respect.”
The thought is tempting but my ferocious maternal instinct wins out over doormat parenting and sheer laziness. “Why you ungrateful little…”
“Careful, now. The school principal taught me my rights from physical, emotional and verbal abuse, too.” She lights a cigarette and puffs on it, exhales it all over my face. I wonder if putting duct tape all over her ashtray of a mouth will send police sirens coming for me. I decide not to test.
“Where’d you get those?” I ask, coughing and choking. “It’s illegal to sell them to minors.”
Her tattooed fingers flick the ashes on my just vacuumed tile floor. “Boy, you really are behind. Age of majority was lowered to sixteen. I can get cigarettes or contraception in school vending machines with a friend’s ID and abortion on demand across the street from school. Speaking of, did you and Father decide about my Sweet Sixteen party?”
The thought of the party cheers me up a little. At least we both have something to look forward to. “Yeah, its not going to be a pool-slumber party at The Four Seasons Hualalai at the Big Island like you’d hoped. We’ll rent the Splash Island Water Park with a caterer of your choice. You could still have your Hawaiian theme though with pineapple shaped plastic plates I found online…”
“Moth-er, that’s so lame! Everyone will think I’m a total tool.”
“Dork,” she translates.
I pick at my pink floral apron, a souvenir from Maui, where we took her for her 12th birthday, a place and time when she seemed like a completely different person. “Sorry Honey,” I say. “We just can’t afford a bridal party budget, but you said you wanted the Hawaiian theme…”
“I mean everyone will think it’s so uncool to have plastic plates. The environment you know. You just can’t DO that. It's 'crashy'.”
I squint. “Let me get this straight: you can backtalk your parents, ban God from school and government, obtain contrabands, but you have to pay your respect to the environment. Now that's crazy-trashy ('crashy') school and government policies if you ask me.”
She closes her eyes, draws a deep breath and Ohmmms. “Really Mother,” she says. “God is only cool when you say it in context, like OMG. Nowadays the higher ups are just referred to as the Universe.”
Another puff. Another disgusted exhale of smoke. “The Universe, you know. It, like, gives you signs and enhances your energy to fulfill your destiny of evolving into a higher spiritual being.”
“I seriously hope they don’t teach you that crashy mix-up in school because God is the Creator and the Universe is creation. My taxes are better spent somewhere else than this New Age hocus pocus.”
“Relax. Ohhmmm. Its your TV bills that’s paying for them. They’re like all over every channel.”
“In that case, your TV privileges are cut off young lady, effective immediately, and you may not go to that party…”
She laughs. “Oh Mother, you are such a loony toon. But seriously you are giving me headache so I’m just going to go to my Wicca support group now. Cast some spells over certain uncooperative individuals around here.”
“Don’t you dare, Sassy pants! Wicca is a sin.”
She laughs again. “Oh Mother! Nobody refers to it as sin anymore. Not since Harry Potter. Haven’t you ever heard of ‘live or let live’? Tolerance, coexist, political correctness and all that 'butter'? We need to be sensitive to Atheists and witches. You are more old fashioned than a Bourbon whiskey cocktail. My yoga class always gets a kick out of you.”
I scratch my head. Sensitive to everyone but Christians? Never mind offending God? “Look, your father and I cut off your allowance two years ago,” I say. “Where do you get all this money for your … hobbies?”
“Meditation is covered by the Healthcare, filed under 'support mental health practices'. I got witch friends with money. And yoga is a P.E. Class elective.”
I shake my head, hoping this is just a bad dream. Something’s terribly wrong with a public school that teaches physical poses to find union with Hindu goddesses but prohibits hands folded in prayer to Jesus.
“Well,” I finally say, “while you are under my roof, you are not allowed to participate in New Age.” Who knows what else they teach her in there? I mean, I have an idea and it’s not compatible with the faith I’ve been trying to teach her oh for the last fifteen years now. I sigh. "Go to your room, Sassy, and don't come out till... you're sixteen!"
She snorts. "Forget my sweet sixteen party. I’ll be gone and out of your hair by then and you mine. Don’t expect an invitation.”
Her cel phone trills with all the boom-bass of a subwoofer on amps.
It’s at this point that I wake up, crying and hearing my own heartbeat like a herd of hoof-beats against my ear. It takes me a few seconds till I realize where I am, snuggled up against my baby.
When the sobs die down, I am grateful that it’s not too late: I can still homeschool; I can still teach religion to impressionable, innocent children; the souls I will be held accountable for are still within the parameters of right in the border between right and wrong, sin and virtue, truth and lies.
I hope and pray and fight that the government and government run institutions don’t take that away from me cause when the teenage years come, (and I know, I know, no matter what, there will be growing pains) I trust that the way I let the one true God parent me will be strong enough to parent my children. And hopefully my obedience to God’s Commandments will be the example they need to teach them obedience to the Church.