I noticed this morning that Anna has been distant lately. An alarm went off inside me, since nothing in this world is as important as keeping my kids and hubby close. So I set aside my beloved laptop and squeezed Anna’s big thirteen-year-old body next to me on the green La-Z-boy.
Putting my arm around her, I asked, “What’s wrong? Why do you seem so far away?”
She answered in typical teenage fashion: Silence.
I tried to make it easy, to coax verbiage out of her like I sometimes wish Dave would do for me (“You’re upset about the way I spoke to you, aren’t you? I’m getting better at this mind-reading thing, huh?”).
I asked Anna, “Is it me?”
“Is it anyone in this house?”
“Is it something you did?”
More shaking of the head.
“Do you just need more lovin’s?” That’s usually it. But not this time.
“Honey, you know you can tell me anything.”
She sighed deeply. I knew she had something to say. Suddenly she burst into tears and I thought, This is serious. This is the day my daughter is going to tell me she wants to join a convent. Or the army.*
“It’s Ferdy!” she sobbed. “He likes the P–‘s pond better. He has friends over there and he’s been lonely since Dorothy left and I miss him!” The snot was flowing now.
I hugged her tightly, grateful for a problem that could easily be solved with a quick trip to Craigslist. After a few minutes of browsing through listings of five-dollar Pekins, laying hens and pedigreed rabbits, Anna jumped up and went to bake cookies.
What about you? Have you squeezed your teen today?
*In fact, four years later she told us she wanted to join the Marines. And she did, as an officer.