My ten year old daughter is a funny, beautiful, talented and intelligent girl. She is also utterly and completely exhausting. But not in the physical sense that my son is; he wears me out, yes, but nothing that a hot bath, a bottle of Shiraz, and a good cry can’t cure.
Pre-teen girls, I am discovering, are exhausting on an entirely different level. It’s like comparing the pain of a toe stubbed through steel-toe safety shoes to a leg fractured in a fall down seven flights of wet, uncarpeted stairs. That was set incorrectly and then had to be re-broken.
She’s been off school all week with the flu. Despite her being sick, I have really enjoyed having her around all week. It’s been nice spending the one on one time with her, and her insights on some things are so dead-on that I am wondering where I was while she had this huge developmental leap. Turns out, however, that I was lulled into a false sense of complacency, and was bold enough to even start thinking that if this was how complacent and reasonable she was now, these pre-teen years are going to be a breeze.
Turns out it must have been the fever talking, because once she recovered, things were back to normal.
She is a girl who WANTS details, but you should so NOT give them to her. She will kill you with questions about contingency plans, backup strategies and worst case scenarios. I ask her if she wants to walk to downtown to get ice cream for dessert, and she’s drawing maps of the town’s underground sewer system in case there is road construction that would prevent us from getting within a block of the store.
So I thought up a method that I thought would give me an accurate account of her state of health, but without getting all convoluted and distorted. Smart, right?
Me: How do you feel right now on a scale of 0 to 100?
If at your best you are a 100, and worst is a 0, how do you feel now?
Zero is the worst?
Wouldn’t zero be dead then? That’s your worst.
Okay. Zero is dead. How do you feel?
I don’t know. (Looks pensive)
Why is this hard for you?
The “50” is throwing me off.
What? Why? Why the 50?
Well, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a “50” day. My days are really good or really bad. Can we get a dog?
No. So what is today then? A good day or a bad day?
If we can’t get a dog then it’s a bad day.
A demented dog would be 50. I’m not there yet.
Focus please! Forget about a dog. WE ARE NOT GETTING A DOG.
Even a one eyed, one-legged, demented dog? I would take care of it and pull it in the wagon.
The wagon is broken. Your brother bungee corded his bike to it and rode it down the hill and…LISTEN TO ME! How are you feeling? (I, for one, am not feeling so good at this point. I have started sweating and my heart is palpitating.)
What are you getting at? Why do you want to know?
Because I need to know if you feel strong enough to go back to school tomorrow. You’ve been gone a week and you were exhausted and lethargic the entire time.
What does lethargic mean?
Tired. HOW DO YOU FEEL RIGHT NOW?
Why don’t you ask me if I am tired then? That would be easier.
(A pause while I root through my purse for my blood pressure medication.) Are you tired today?
Ehh…I’m about a 76.4 I guess.
Forget the therapy jar; I’m saving for law school. This girl could wear down Gloria Allred, Johnnie Cochrane and Edward Greenspan. Before breakfast.