When I was a sophomore in college, I changed my major.
I completely changed schools within the university I attended, leaving the school of business and my marketing major behind for the college of liberal arts, and a mass communication degree instead. I was 20; and telling my Dad about my decision was the single most difficult thing I had encountered in my life. I was worried my parents wouldn't see the value in a liberal arts degree. I should have known better.
Over a lunch of greasy burgers, french fries, and canned soda in August before my junior year, I told my Dad when I resumed classes in a week, I would be doing so in mass comm. Yes, I procrastinated ... since I had been registered since May.
My Dad was quiet. Until he said, "Kid (he's called me that for 31 years now), you can do what you want. You know that. Mom and I will support you no matter what. There is a quote, a famous one, that goes, Whatever you are, be a good one. (Abraham Lincoln)
I was crying at this point. Part from relief, part from reassurance, part from the realization that I was now a grown-up and clearly, entitled and expected to make all my own decisions from here on out.
Then my Dad said, "I still expect you to graduate in four years, however."
Oh, right, I said, calculating. Of course.
I've never been one to disappoint anyone, especially my parents, so I agreed.
And I threw myself into the major. Courses and classes with Dr. Pepper (for real, Dr. Jerry Pepper), Dr. Sunnafrank, Dr. Katz. I loved what I was studying, and I worked my ass off for the next two years, taking more credits, more night classes, and more summer courses while working two jobs to graduate on time, despite my game change midway through.
And I graduated in the the spring of 2002, just four years after I graduated from high school.
My Dad? Was proud. He said he never had the notion I wouldn't do it.
So, where am I going with this story?
Straight to my three-year-old.
Who, yesterday I told that if she slammed her door one more time, I was going to take it off its hinges.
Who, yesterday I told that when you're angry, it's not okay to tell someone you no longer love them.
Who, yesterday I just stared at as she faced me off, hands on hips, tears on cheeks, life on fire.
I am 31, a Mass Communication major who cannot communicate with her 3-year-old daughter.
Last week, we sat down to dinner- chicken Alfredo, a dish I know my kid loves. Cheese, chicken, and carbs?
She sat down at her spot.
Poked around on her plate, begrudgingly took a bite ... chewed. Coughed a little, an incident aside from eating.
Then all Hell broke loose.
She spit her food all over the table and floor.
Crying, screaming, this food makes me sick!
Said, Mama never make this again! People get sick!
The Dad and I just stared at each other.
Until, finally, he told her to get down and go to her room, so we could continue to eat in peace.
She stormed off, hysterical, slamming her door.
All was quiet for 40 minutes. We finished dinner, cleaned the kitchen.
I heard her door creak open ... out she came, still sobbing.
You, she said to me, I don't love you to the top anymore. Just a little.
And, where's my Dad?
I told her he was outside, picking raspberries.
And she continued, I am not riding in the truck with Daddy anymore! He made me cry so bad.
And I just stared at her.
She was so deliberate, so intentional with her hurt and anger.
So I did what I knew how to. I gave her a bath, hoping to scrub off as much fury as I could.
I dried, lotioned, combed, pajamed her.
Tucked her in.
Read her a story.
Kissed her and told her how much I love her.
I cautiously woke her up 12 hours later.
She came into the bathroom on her own, a rare feat.
Good morning Mama, she said to me, hugging my thigh.
As I curled my hair she commented, you look like, so pretty.
Just like Sleeping Beauty.