It’s Tuesday morning before the Thanksgiving break, the last day of classes for my daughters before a much needed, extra long weekend. We are hosting Turkey Day dinner this year; we’ve all been very busy; we are all a little bit tired.
Daughter 1.0 is ready to go to school. The first class of the morning begins at 8:10, but Daughter 1.0 likes to be at school when the front doors are unlocked at 7:30. She likes time at school to get prepared. She likes to leave the house around 7:00, 7:10 at the latest. She sits near the bottom of the stairs waiting for her sister to come down. It’s 7:05. Daughter 2.0 is not a morning person. She likes to roll into school with just enough time to drop her books in her locker and make it to her desk as the bell rings. She likes to leave the house around 7:30. This, as you might imagine, has been an ongoing source of conflict in our house.
“Let’s go,” I call up the stairs to Daughter 2.0. “We need to leave if you want to drive this morning.” Remember, Daughter 2.0 has just gotten her permit. She wants to practice driving at every opportunity, as she should. Daughter 1.0 drove us to school every morning when she was learning to drive, Daughter 2.0 should do the same, no matter how many grey hairs it gives me.
“She’s not driving this morning. It’s Tuesday,” Daughter 1.0 points out. We had started a discussion Sunday at the dinner table about when Daughter 2.0 would drive in the morning. It had dissolved rather quickly into a yelling, crying match. “I need to practice driving everyday! That’s what you did!” “But I need to get to school by 7:30!” “No you don’t, that’s ridiculous!” “It makes me calm! And I’m so stressed!” “Me too, I’m stressed too!” “You’re not stressed! You’re only a sophomore, you have nothing to be stressed about!” “If you want to get to school that early drive yourself! You have a car!” “But I want Mom to drive until the end of the semester! I’m totally stressed!”
I tabled the discussion, hoping to salvage our Sunday dinner. Apparently Daughter 1.0 believed that we had come to an agreement about what days Daughter 2.0 was allowed to drive. She could drive on the days 1.0 didn’t have class until 9:00 (Mondays and Thursdays). I did not believe that any agreement had been reached, but Daughter 1.0 sat with her arms folded glaring at me.
“It’s Tuesday, she can’t drive today. I need to be at school at 7:30.”
I resist the urge to tell her that 7:30 seems an unreasonably early time to get to school, 40 minutes before her first class. When I’ve pointed this out in the past I’ve been met with fury. At that moment Daughter 2.0 walks down the stairs. She is carrying her shoes, not all of her books are in her backpack, her jacket is dragging behind her on the stairs. Daughter 2.0 is a somewhat disorganized person. There was a time when she was in sixth grade that we made it all the way to school (a 45 minute drive from our house with morning traffic) before she realized she didn’t have her shoes.
I make a quick, executive decision. “I’m driving. We don’t need added stress today,” I say. I have my shoes (and jacket) on. Daughter 2.0, to her credit, pouts, but doesn’t protest. She does say, as we’re crowding out the front door, “Then I’m sitting in the front seat.”
The front seat, copilot, shotgun! Oh, the arguments we have had about that coveted bucket seat. It got so out of hand when the girls were younger that I used to have a seating schedule. It was complicated by the fact that there are an uneven number of days in a school week. But we quickly solved that by assigning seats both to and from school, giving us 10 rides in all. And if you happened to not be there on your given front seat day, for whatever reason, there was no “makeup.” Same went for holidays. I had written this contract out, the girls had signed it, harmony ensued (right!).
“I want the front seat!” Daughter 1.0. “When I was learning to drive, you always got the front seat when mom drove!”
“I don’t care, I was supposed to drive this morning! I want the front seat!”
“She was supposed to drive,” I point out. “Let her sit in the front.”
“She wasn’t supposed to drive! She can only drive when I don’t have to be at school until 9:00!” Daughter 1.0 is yelling now. Yelling loud enough for my Husband (who is uncharacteristically home this morning) to come out of the house to see what all of the commotion is about.
“Get in the front seat,” I say to daughter 2.0. She does. Daughter 1.0 doesn’t get in the car. I walk around to the driver’s door and say, “If you don’t want to ride in the back seat, you can drive yourself.” I climb into the car.
Daughter 1.0 is crying. She does what any overtired, totally stressed out high school senior would do. She starts kicking my car, repeatedly, with the heel of her Fry boots, all the while screaming, “I hate you!!” It’s 7:15 in the morning. Our neighbors are coming out of their houses, leaving for work and school. You lull yourself into thinking the tantrums end when they grow up, no more wailing in the grocery store or flailing at the playground. But here we were, our family circus, on full display.
I turn on the car and slowly nudge my way out of the parking space. I’d hate to run over my kid, even if she is having a two year old tantrum. I watch in the rear view mirror as my Husband tries to calm Daughter 1.0 down.
Then I do what any reasonable, well behaved mother would. I turn on Daughter 2.0 and start screaming. “Couldn’t you, for once in your life, just go with the flow?!? Just sit in the back seat! Goddammit! Now she’s going to be driving angry!!” I yell, driving angry.
Daughter 2.0 says nothing. Her non reaction calms me. She’s doing what an adult should, not pouring gasoline on the fire. Me, I fan the flames, I can’t seem to help it. When we get to school we sit in the car together. We talk, we both cry, we feel better. She goes into school, tells me she’ll text me to let me know Daughter 1.0 made it safely.
We have a plan in place now. Daughter 2.0 will drive Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. 3 out of 5 days, not bad. I’m sure that will put an end to all fighting in the morning, right?
Butternut Squash Soup
2 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds total)
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
Cayenne pepper or curry powder to taste (I vary the recipe, depending on my mood. Both options are good)
Salt and fresh black pepper
Peel the squash and cut in half. Scoop out the seeds and then cut the squash into chunks. Combine the squash with the broth in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the squash is very tender. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes or so, stirring occasionally to release the heat.
Working in batches, puree the squash with the broth in a blender. Return the soup to a large sauce pan and heat over medium low heat. Stir in the creme fraiche or cream. Add the cayenne pepper or curry powder and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with crusty bread and a salad.