Monday, 29 July 2013
Words To Strike Fear
'Mum, I have to tell you something but I'm so scared. I don't know what you're going to say.' If there is ever a string of words to strike fear into the heart of a parent, then this is that string; especially when they are released from the mouth of your seventeen year old daughter.
We were firmly ensconced in the car with my daughter's friend in the backseat, as what I wondered; a witness, mediator? We were returning home after a night out at a friend's 'album fundraiser' gig and were all feeling pretty chilled and happy. My daughter had just humoured me into a sweet state by assuring me that having her Mum out with her on a night out was really quite fun and thank goodness I wasn't an embarrassing type of parent. (Sorry fellow parents for letting the side down.)
So in one fleeting moment, I'd gone from a place of peaceful serenity to one of anxious high alert. Now when your teenage daughter tell you that she's got something important to tell you but she's scared, there are several scenarios that instantly form in your mind. You know what I'm talking about and you know exactly what those top three to four scenarios are. Knowing my child as I do, the first thing that came out my mouth was the one scenario which I would have been almost relieved to hear, 'You've got a tattoo haven't you?' To which she replied slightly affronted, 'No, you said I had to wait until after I was eighteen.'
She then continued, 'My friend has known for a while but I just haven't been able to pluck up the courage to tell you.' By this time, my mouth had dried to cotton wool and I was mentally rearranging our living arrangements in my head. Then the words tumbled from her lips, 'Mum, I've been eating meat for months now.'
If I hadn't been sat down or driving, you could have knocked me over with a feather. This was the least expected phrase that I imagined coming from the girl who had been almost completely vegetarian for the last ten years. A rather unpleasant trip to the butchers with her Dad, combined with a gristly sausage for school dinners had caused her to make a lifestyle change around seven years old. The rest of the family have always been carnivores and remain so. For a decade, I've been making two kinds of dinner every night; meat and veggie.
After my initial shock, I regrouped and asked her why she had decided to make this dramatic change again now. Any notion that I had of the change coming about because she'd felt a desire to sample some of my gourmet meaty dishes, (okay gourmet is pushing it) were swiftly quashed when she announced that she'd tried a McDonald's burger a few months ago and had then developed a liking for them. So, why did she decide to tell me on this night? Turns out she'd got that 11pm craving for a Big Mac and couldn't bear the thought of us going through the drive-through on the way home and her not being able to have her newest fix.
Kids...just when you think you've got a handle on them, they go and surprise you.