Tuesday, March 20, 2007

It so much easier in theory

In my brain I know exactly what to do and how I think I should react.

Miss E has been chronically tardy since she moved. Most days I pull up to the school just as the bell is ringing. That means that she will be a 2-5 minutes late, depending upon whether she goes to her locker. She often has a gym bag, so I am guessing that she goes to the locker.

When she was living at Annabelle's she would call me if I was not at her house by 6:45. She needed to be there close to 6:50 so that she could be on time. She almost always chatted in the car. Though it was almost entirely negative, I still felt like I was serving an emotional purpose in her life. I valued those five minutes we spent together every morning.

Now though things are different. She has trouble waking up, so I have started calling her as soon as I get in the car, "Hey E, it's 6:33. I'll be in your driveway in 7 minutes." I call her again when I am in her driveway at 6:40. She stumbles out by 6:50 at the earliest. Today it was 6:58. It takes 10 minutes to get to school, so she was 8 minutes late for school. I have no idea how many minutes it takes her to get from the front door to the class -- several minutes if she is putting that gym bag in her locker.

So I am spending 10-18 minutes sitting in my car in her driveway. That actually doesn't bother me much. I listen to NPR, or to my audiobook when I have one. Sometimes I recline my seat and listen to the silence. I always have a cup of tea in an insulated cup. The time in the driveway is quality alone time.

What bothers me is the silent rides. For a while I was working hard at chatting her up. The past couple of days I haven't felt up to it. I increasingly feel like I am grilling her, and I don't like that either.

Today she got in the car and I gave her a cheerful, "Good morning, how are you?"


"I keep hoping for a different answer."

"Well, you're not going to get one." This said with plenty of teenager 'tude.

I asked how things were going and she mumbled something and I let her alone. I drove to school, she dozed. I pulled up and said, "Bye E." She got out, shut the door, and walked away without saying anything.

Okay...so I know it is not about me. I know that she is a stressed-out young woman who is not getting enough sleep. I imagine that my desire to have her talk to me is something of a burden she would rather not have to deal with. I know that she is trying not to fight with her new foster family which leaves this angry young woman with fewer people to vent her hostility on. I know that if she does direct any at me, it is not about me at all.

So, as she gets out and walks away do I feel all this? Do I look at her receding back and feel sympathy for this hurt, angry, terrified young woman?

No. I think, "You ungrateful little b*tch. I have spent the last 35 minutes sitting in the damn car waiting on your convenience. You could at least say thank you. Maybe I will just tell you that I will show up at 6:40, not call you at all, and drive away at 6:45 if you don't get your ass out of the house all on your own. See how you like that." Quietly another part of my brain says, "Um...you feel left out because she hasn't wanted to talk to you. You want attention. Your feelings are hurt. Deal with it."

But that part of my brain is not in control of my feelings, at least not then.

It is amazing to me how quickly I can have that "well I hate you too" feeling. And what did she do? She rode in the car in silence and left without saying goodbye or thank you.

Oh yeah...she's the devil.


  1. If it were me, I would inform her that you now have some sort of morning committee meeting that you have to attend at work, so you have to get there early. Inform her what time you will be picking her up and what time you will be leaving.

    Explain, sweetly, that you'll have to leave on time, as you simply cannot be late for this morning meeting that is expected to continue for several weeks...

    Call her foster mom and tell her the same thing, so she's not surprised when Miss E. gets left behind once or twice.

  2. Anonymous2:34 PM

    i'm glad i'm not the only one having battling conversations in my head vascillating between empathetic/therapuetic and snarky.

    On a completely different hand...

    Do you know where Process went?? Her blog is down.

    Process come back!!!


  3. Chrsitine,
    Process is here:


  4. I think you have those "well I hate you too" reaction because you perceive yourself to be in a relationship with E (I don't know whether she perceives herself to be in a relationship with you.) It's the loss of the relationship as it was that you are feeling, I would guess. And that's why you haven't set limits--because it's not about driving her to school, it's about the relationship.

  5. I'm sorry, your post made me laugh as I recognized how quickly my own teens get under my skin, and geez, I love those brats with all my heart. You did a great job talking it all out, I wish I could carry you in my head on the days I need that talking...


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