The show is over… my little girl (not really so little anymore) spent last week giving a stunning performance in her latest school show. I fought the panic attacks and watched her two nights running (even managing to get my mum there for the final night); she did herself proud.
The show finished and there was one more landmark for her: the cast party… her first, as her first main role, so exciting for her. I was given an address, and instructions to pick her up at 2.30am, the joys of running ‘mum’s taxi service’. At the appointed hour I found myself on a dark street, trying unsuccessfully to work out house numbers and trying to call her mobile which was, of course, switched off. No matter; I parked up and took a closer look, finding the house and ringing the bell.
The door was answered by the father of the leading man, who invited me in and offered me a drink (No thanks, I’m driving) and told me to feel free to wander around and find my daughter. I ask a couple of familiar faces and get directed to the back room of the house where I find my daughter slow dancing in the arms of an unfamiliar young man.
Awkward… Do I interrupt? Call out to her? Go over and introduce myself? Luckily, no need. She turns and sees me and begins to giggle as she tells him, ‘That’s my mum.’ Ahhhhh… my ‘little girl’ is a little tipsy. Not falling over drunk, thank god, so I try to hide my disapproval to save her embarrassment. I wait patiently through the drama of finding a pen (‘I just need to get his number’) and searching for the coat (‘I’m sure it was here earlier’) and also the purse (no, not with the coat, that would be too logical for my teen) and finally I escort my young lady to the car.
As I pull off, I am treated to the excited ramblings of my beloved daughter, who has thoroughly enjoyed herself (of which I am glad) while forgetting the advice not to mix her drinks (not so glad). Her laughter is infectious as she tells me about dance-offs and dares and funny stories they shared and even when she repeats herself several times (‘He’s in the band, did I tell you? He’s musical!!’) I find myself laughing along with her. My skirt, borrowed for the night, is never to be returned to me, she tells me (It is a ‘man magnet’ apparently… funny that it never has that effect when I wear it).
I half-heartedly scold her for drinking a little more than I would allow, and she apologises, telling me she drank lots of water too, she did remember THAT much. She will pay in the morning, I tell her, before she is once again sidetracked telling me more about the ‘musical’ young man she spent the evening getting to know.
We arrive home and I send her off to bed, with a glass of water and a kiss goodnight. I find myself unable to sleep again. I find myself glad for my daughter, glad that she has enjoyed herself and glad that she is discovering the excitement of getting to know someone she really likes. I also find myself worried for her; I remember being her age, and I remember the highs and lows of teenage dating. I wouldn’t live those years again if you paid me.
And I find myself grateful for a different kind of mother-daughter relationship to the one I had. Would I have been so open with my mum? Never in a million years. She still tells me the important things, my ‘little girl’, unlike so many teenagers I hear about. She knows I am, first and foremost, her mother, and that I will do whatever is necessary to keep her safe and well. But she also sees me as a friend, someone she can talk to, someone whose advice she values. How lucky I am… and how much I treasure this.
Of course, I’m not above making her pay in the morning… My son received instructions to shout loudly at her every time he speaks to her, and to keep reminding her loudly that ‘He’s in the band, did I tell you??’ Even for this, I am forgiven, for she sees the lesson behind it. And she still comes in to me later to tell me, grinning from ear to ear, ‘He’s asked me out, Mum…’