Sometimes, daughters can drive you nuts.
Big Daughter is a writer and a poet. She is a disgustingly intelligent child. I can even concede she is far more intelligent then I will ever be. (Not that I’m biased or anything. What do I know, I’m just her mother.) I am very proud of Big Daughter and grateful I can be her
But sometimes, I just want to smack her up’side the head.
The Samoa Observer newspaper was doing a series of feature articles for the week of Mother’s Day where people wrote about their mums and what they thought of motherhood in general. They ran an article from Big Daughter. It was an insightful, clearly expressed, and very ‘mature’ piece of writing. (Not that I’m biased or anything.) If I were still in my English teacher days, I would have given it an A. I read her article in the Samoa Observer and I was very proud of her and grateful I can be her
Then a few days later on, I just wanted to smack her up’side the head.
My Uncle – otherwise known as Professor Albert Wendt – was specially awarded and recognized at the recent Auckland Writers and Readers Festival. There was an evening of readings, music, and tributes to celebrate him. I took two of my daughters with me to the event. So they could have a culturally aesthetic and artistically uplifting experience. Broaden their intellectual horizons. Get their brain synapses zapped in a way that maybe Hannah Montana just isn’t zapping them?
We went. We listened. We clapped. Ten minutes in and Little Daughter was half-lying down in her seat. “What’s the matter with you? Sit up.” I hissed at her.
“I’m bored,” whined Little Daughter. I considered giving her the pinch of death. You know the one where you smile lovingly at your child for all to see – all while pinching their arm and muttering threats of dismemberment if they don’t bloody well behave? But then Uncle Albert came out on stage and she perked up immediately. Thankfully he was scintillating and funny enough that even an eleven year old didn’t need to lie down on the floor and take a nap.
Then it was time for the music. There was a glorious opera number which transported us all to heavenly places.
Except for Little Daughter. Who had her fingers stuck in her ears and her head down in her lap. I poked her. “What’s the matter with you? Sit up.” I hissed at her. Again.
“The song is so loud it hurts my ears,” she whined. “She’s not singing English. How am I supposed to like her song when I don’t know what she’s saying?”
By then, the ruse was up. There was no way ANYONE in the audience could possibly mistake us for artistically literate individuals or connoisseurs of the fine arts. Please forgive us, we are savages who never go to the opera. I glared at my child and didn’t bother hissing. “Stop being rude. Sit up straight, be attentive and smile. Or you’re going to get it.” She didn’t need a translator, she knew what “it” meant.
The child behaved herself for the rest of the program. Then it was time to wait in line to congratulate Uncle Albert and “mingle”. In a manner which denoted our good breeding and exceptional manners. Except someone forgot to tell Big Daughter that patience and something called a SMILE are essential ingredients for aforementioned breeding and manners. I chatted to people I knew from the TELESA publishing journey, took photos – and Big Daughter looked surly and mean. “Why do you have to talk to so many people?” she complained.
Little Daughter said hopefully, “Can we go home now? If we drive fast, we can still watch XFactor on tv.” Koekiki oe e…
Then some lovely ladies exclaimed, “Is this your daughter Sade Young? We read her article in the Samoa Observer. Wow, such a great piece…blah blah.” They were enthusiastic and generous with their praise. I was happy for Big Daughter. Now she can see it’s not just me who thinks she writes good stuff! What nice people giving her positive feedback! I beamed.
Big Daughter said “thank you.” With a surly, disinterested teenager expression. One that said, ‘I’m sooo bored listening to your chatter and I have far better things to do with my time. Like watch XFactor. Or taking a Hannah Montana general knowledge quiz.’
I wanted to smack her up’side the head.
And so it continued throughout the night. Later, when I asked Big Daughter why she looked like a bored brat when she was being given compliments, she was shocked. “No I didn’t! I was shy.”
Little Daughter’s justification for (almost) passing out during the program was, “I think I’m too young to go with you to book stuff. It’s way past my bedtime. Next time, you can leave me at home.” So I can watch XFactor.
I went home and told the Hot Man I wanted to smack his daughters up’side the head. He said, ‘Don’t be silly. You can’t do that.’
There’s no hope for us. I’m apologizing in advance. If you ever meet my daughters in public and they seem surly / bored / disinterested. It’s because they are shy. Out past their bedtime. And I can’t smack them up’side the head.