This morning starts out with a phone call at 5:20 from a phone number I didn’t recognize. By the time I rolled out of bed and blindly fumbled around my nightstand looking for the phone (which wasn’t there because a certain teenager took it out of my room and did not return it), the caller hung up without leaving a message. I tried to go back to sleep, but when you know your alarm is going to sound-off in 10 minutes, sleep becomes evasive so I just got up to make my coffee. As I’m waiting for my morning shot of caffeine to brew, I decided to call my office’s weather line to check on the status of our building. The voice on the recording told me we had a two hour delay. Whoop!!! That meant I could putter around and take my time. Bahah!! Not really. By the time I finished searching (unsuccessfully) through all of my kitchen cabinets looking for a lid to fit one of the FOUR thermoses we have, it was time to wake up Emma.
This is a big day for Emma. She is heading out to Fairmont, WV with several other band students to audition for a seat in the West Virginia All-State Band. She has been practicing for a couple of months. I thought she’d hop right out of bed because she’s been so excited about this. Hah! I don’t know what I was thinking, but it was the same grunts, groans, and other sounds and indistinguishable words she mutters at me on any given morning. After a few minutes of her doing something (really, I have no idea what she does nor why it takes so long for her to do, but it is an unexplainable phenomenon that takes place every morning in my house), she staggers into my room with bleary eyes and a frown on her face and blurts out “Should I straighten my hair?” Not really a question, but more like an accusatory statement.
I imagine she thinks it’s my fault the curls she put in last night did not last, but instead turned into a frizzy mess. I take a sip (ok, more like a giant swig) of my coffee, tilt my head as I smile and say “If you want to, sweetie. You have plenty of time to use a curling iron or straightening iron. Whichever you choose, though, you really should get moving.” To which she replied “But it’s going to take longer than an hour and a half to curl my hair!”…. Big inhale, another sip of coffee, “Well then, you should probably straighten it.” “Fine.”
Less than twenty minutes later, I’m walking up the stairs after filling up my cup with that sweet waking elixir when I hear…. sobbing. Seriously? Really? Why?!?!?! Argh! I put my coffee cup on my vanity and then open Emma’s bathroom door to find her standing there in tears.
“I’m just not going to go!”
I assumed she was upset about her hair, so I grabbed her hairbrush and started brushing her hair. “Why didn’t you just call me if you needed help?”
“I don’t know why I’m going anyway. I’m not good enough. Everyone else is so much better than me”.
“Emma, you are a wonderful trumpet player. Besides, aren’t you doing this for the experience? You are a Freshman, you have three more years to audition”.
Sobbing, “Yeah, and I’m not going to make it for three more years”.
It’s her anxiety. Her feet are going a mile a minute and she can’t calm herself down. I hate anxiety. Anxiety is a bitch and I wish she’d leave my daughter alone. When a person is caught up in the throes of an anxiety melt-down, it is very difficult for them to rationalize anything. As a parent you can yell at them, which does nothing except exacerbate the problem, or you can do something that helps them. With Emma, I have to hold her as tightly as I can until she gets her breathing back under control. This does not mean I haven’t screamed at her – I am guilty of having done that – but I really try to remember that this is something she cannot control. Her anxiety is part of the reason why I’ve never let her swim on a year-round swim team, as many times as she’s begged me to let her do it. Of course, her episodes have become very infrequent as she has matured. I know she works hard to control her anxiety on a daily basis, but sometimes it’s too much for her. Pass along any good tips for controlling anxiety if you have any.
After I finally get her calmed down, she finishes getting ready and we leave the house on-time. ON. FREAKING. TIME. Of course, today the roads are terrible, but my van has awesome tires. As we cross over from the road we live off of to Job Corps Road, I realize we are behind quite a few cars. At the front of this line of 7 cars, is a van going between 20 and 25 miles per hour. Not a problem, because we left ON TIME (wasn’t sure if I had mentioned that or not). We get to the school with a few minutes to spare, I walk her in, give her a big hug and kiss, wish her good luck, and leave. I planned on going back home because it was cold and I had to work from home. I get halfway down a certain road when I look ahead and see that same van we were behind earlier, trying to get up a hill. I am glad I had the foresight to stop, because the reverse lights came on and the van backed down the hill. I waited as the van tried to get up the hill again, only to back-up again. As it was heading up for the third attempt (at least the third while I was there), I decided to back up, turn around, and go the long way home.
I decided to go to the grocery store to pick up a few things. As I was about to get out of the van, my phone rang. “MOM. MOM. MOM. MOM. PICK UP MOM”.
“What do you want, Emma?”
“I forgot my permission slip! I need you to bring it to me!”
“What do you mean you forgot it? It has been hanging on the front door for over a week now, signed and everything. You knew it was there.”
“Can you just bring it to me?”
“I’m not at home. Can someone print one for me at the school and I’ll sign it?”
“You can just write it on a piece of paper”
“Fine. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
Less than five minutes later she called again to find out where I was. Seriously? The roads are icy and snow-packed yet it only took nine minutes from when the first phone call ended until the time I pulled into the school parking lot. I scribbled something on a blank piece of paper, signed it, handed it to a teacher, and drove back to the store. I seriously considered buying a six pack of beer, but thought the better of it and bought a carton of chocolate soy milk to drown my sorrows in. Still thinking about the beer. Maybe I’ll go out again… but I won’t. Maybe I’ll take a hot bath. Yeah, that sounds even better.