My sixteen-year-old daughter is the spiky haired, existentialist apple of my eye. She’s teeny tiny (it must skip generations) and is the cutest, punked-out kid you can imagine. What she lacks in size, she makes up for in style, opinion, and stubbornness. Oh, how I love this girl.
She’s lived with her dad for the past year now, so any influence I may have is just a faint whisper over a cell phone line. I disagree with a lot of my ex’s parenting style. He loves our kids, and overall, I think he’s a good father. But he believes that children are grown by the time they’re about fourteen, and he’s often much more on the par of benevolent buddy than actual father.
She came to see me a couple of weeks ago, boyfriend and boyfriend’s friend in tow. They were adorable– the boyfriend had just cut off his mohawk, and had this little stumpy strip of hair where he’s starting to grow it back- he was shy, polite and smart. His friend is chubby, outgoing, and just a great guy. And my daughter— her hair was short and died jet black (a new color- it was neon orange), her eyes were rimmed with kohl, and her nose double pierced with these ridiculous pointy things sticking out of each nostril. Her skirts were short and retro, and she looked like some kind of itty bitty anime cartoon. An elfin Siouxsie Sioux. Sighhhhhhhh…..
I am very proud of my kids. They’re intelligent, creative, well-read and kind-hearted. We were always a fairly unconventional family, but I must say that living with me versus living with their father is akin to the difference between living on the set of “One Day at a Time,” and “The Osbournes.”
ANYway…almost as soon as my daughter got here, she started in on a subject that she’s been harping on for a few conversations now. She began with her sweet little girl routine– big puppy eyes, arm around my shoulder. “Mommy?” Uh oh. “When are we going to get matching tattoos?”
I replied, “When I’m eighty and you’re fifty.”
“C’mon Mom– you told me when I was twelve that we should get matching tattoos.”
I sighed. “Did it ever occur to you that I am loony tunes? That I was just talking? Besides, I didn’t mean when you were sixteen.”
She then went on to tell me about her planned body art. How she’s coming up with symbols representing each member of her family. A red-winged blackbird for her dad, a japanese tree for her half-sister. She’s having trouble finding something meaningful to represent her brother, as all of the things he’s into don’t translate well to skin (A chess piece? A ping-pong paddle? A trumpet? All very uncool). As for me, she’s begging to do this mother-daughter tattoo thing. I’m staving her off until she’s at least eighteen. In the meantime, I doodled a temporary one on her hand. This seemed to make her happy for while, until she fell asleep with her hand against her face and ended up with an imprint of it on her cheek. Um….and I took a picture of it.
I may be typing calmly, but my hair stands on end when we have these conversations. I don’t want her using her body as a canvas until she’s at least old enough to fully understand the implications. Even though her dad says she’s an adult, I think she still has some growing up to do. In the meantime, I’ll be thinking of something that symbolizes my complicated relationship with my daughter. Something deep and meaningful, like this.