I really don't know where I could have gone so wrong. Well that's not entirely true, if I really wanted to be honest about the whole thing- I could sit down and pinpoint a few moments between my daughter and I that define our relationship, her personality, and where I went terribly wrong. I know you are thinking this is a passing phase, that she and I will work it out. I will hope you are right.
All I know is that at 10am this morning, I was confident that I was ready to handle the next 3 weeks as a single parent again and that by 3 pm, I questioned my existence as a parent and worried that I wouldn't see my child again. It's a terrible feeling, sitting there having no clue as to the whereabouts of your child- hoping for the best- pushing terrible thoughts from your mind. And then you see them, safe and your first thoughts are just short of murderous.
It went down like this. I have a child who is a compulsive liar. She can't help it. Even when there is no reason for it- her first response is to lie. My husband and I have exhausted our reservoirs of ideas and coping mechanisms to handle it. We know that her currency is her social life and her prized possessions and have multiple times removed them from her grasp. She is aware of the steps she must take to regain them and when prevailed upon, will go to no ends to saitisfy those requirements. We have a zero tolerance policy. It's exhausting. I am either constantly playing detective or enforcer. I have been grateful for the past 3 weeks my husband has been home, so that I can play good cop for short bits.
So today at 9:43am, we dropped Phil at the airport for a 3 week TDY to Japan. We were all feeling a bit melancholy, but also know that 3 weeks isn't that long. Of course in the grand scheme of things- it's a lifetime of possibilities for things to go wrong. I mean weird things could happen, someone could bust a pancreas or something. It's possible- and in the Mallory household- it is quite probable. As I pushed the melancholy from my mind I decided to harness the power of positive thinking. Not only would I be fine this TDY- I would be productive. My first task- getting Lily to her soccer game on time. Her game- 10:00, current time: 9:47- ETA to destination 17 minutes. Not good odds so far. The traffic was not cooperating and at 10:03 we were still 5 minutes away when I got the call form the soccer team mom. I apologize profusely, take a deep breath and realize- it's a 5 year old's soccer game- not the world cup- it's gonna be fine. We get there halfway into the 1st quarter and no harm, no foul. Halfway into 2nd quarter the soccer ball gets beamed off of Lily's face. I got it all under control. I convince Lily that she is not going to die, that she can in fact return to the game. She does and we are midway into the 4th quarter when she nearly gets beamed again- she throws me a crazy shaka and tells me later that she could feel the ball in her hair. It occurs to me that I never gave her her morning meds- I am off to a great start. 1 hour down- 503 to go. I tell the kids if they can manage to behave in the car, I will take them out to lunch. I haven't even fastened my seatbelt before Thing 1 and Thing 2 decide to go silent ops WWF on me. For the love of GOD, if I didn't have eyes in the back of my I head- I surely would have seen their shenanigans in the rear view mirror. Honestly. Needless to say we went straight home.
Kiera immediately requests permission to abandon ship. Permission will be granted when room is in tip top shape and the galley has been tidied. She concedes and abandons ship. After a reasonable amount of time, I journey on over to my neighbor's house. It's much easier to ignore the stacks of to-do items looking at you when you are looking at someone else's house. Kiera and her bud request to go for a run. Their footwear is questionable and I don't see the need to take a purse for a jog. I point this out. Both are acting shady. I inquire as to their intended destination and required time to complete it. Neither can give any indication of either. Request to run declined until proper details can be itemized. Children glare at parents and openly declare hatred of disciplinary action and parents. See most parents would be thrilled their kids were asking to go out for a run and open the door for them. But Kiera falls into fits of itchiness the second her skin starts to glisten. I find it hard to believe that she is opting for a run at 3 in the afternoon, with a purse and inappropriate footwear. But that's just a gut feeling.
After about a half an hour passes, and I get that gut feeling again. I call down Bella, My little informer. Whatcha doin? Playing Barbies. With the girls? No, just Lily. What are the girls doing? I don't know, they left. They left? Yep. Ohh no. I look to my friend, the mother of the other half of the dynamic duo. We yell their names, nothing. We check the house, the yard, my house, their friends' houses. No one has seen them . I send Phillip out on his bike to scan the neighborhood. My friend hops on her bike and I stay at her house in case they return to the scene of the crime. I take to pacing in the front yard. Kiera's friend's sister drills me on exactly how much trouble they are going to be in. Are we talking like two weeks grounding? Try at least 2 months. Zero tolerance. Wow- that's harsh. Insert parental tirade on safety and kids wandering around unsupervised. Hmmm she says. We are now going on an hour. My friend and I are trying to figure where they could have gone. I remember the purse Kiera was going to take on the "run"- it's still on the ledge by the door. I open it- there is a ziploc of shells inside. They mentioned "exploring" while on their "run." shells. Oh no. They wouldn't. I look to my friend- they wouldn't go to the BEACH would they? She calls her husband who is driving around- they both take separate cars to the beach. She returns about 10 minutes later, no girls. I get the call from her husband. He is watching them walk down the beach. He will bring them home.
I am alternately relieved and enraged. I want to find a neighbor with a van- have them throw the girls in the back and scare the living daylights out of them. They have no idea what they have done. My neighbor brings them home. Both girls are covered in sand. They are informed that all priveledges have been revoked. Both girls swear they only went because we never let them do anything. Apparently in the 10 year old mind, this makes sense. I keep my hands tucked in my pockets so that they won't wring her little neck. After the Miranda rights were issued, I marched my child home. While she showered I got the largest hamper I could find and 2 huge rubbermaid bins. I asked her if she knew what happens to people's stuff after they die. She shook her head. I told her their loved ones have to go through it, bit by bit, each piece more painful than the last. And then you have to decide what to keep and what to give away, all the while you just would give anything to have that loved one back. She left without telling me. I had no idea where she was or where to even look for her. If something would have happened to her- I would have not been able to help her. If someone would have taken her and chopped her into little bits, I would have to go through her things. So she was going to do it, to save me the heartache- I had been through enough today worrying about her. After she got dressed, we emptied the contents of her closet and drawers into the hamper. All toys and electronics went into the bins. I removed them from her room. I had her pick up the carpet, by hand. Then vaccuum. I had her wipe down the shelves and the walls. When I got Mcdonald's for dinner- she had to make herself dinner. And then do the dishes. She quietly took out the trash and asked if anything else needed to be done before she went off to bed.
So here I sit- 493 hours to go. Day 1 reaches it close and all children are present and accounted for. I guess technically alls well that ends well, yet tomorrow is another day where I will try to impress upon my daughter the importance of honesty and integrity and to be independent yet accountable. I don't need her to understand today why I make these decisions, I make these decisions so that someday she will be old enough to understand. And that makes it worth it. I think. But I could be wrong. I'll have to let you know someday.