Saturday morning as the doll and I made our way to her round robin volleyball tournament she surprised me with an interesting conversation. As we were about to enter the expressway she said, “Mom, when you were my age, did you understand your feelings?” “In what way?” I asked. “You know, like feelings…” she said muddying the water. “Doll, give me an example about what you’re talking about” I asked. “Okay, like when two of my friends are arguing with one another, I”m not sure how I should feel about that…or if I’m supposed to feel anything about them? And then there’s like Mrs. Krempa. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about her. I mean I’m sad she died and I wish I had talked to her more before so, but am I supposed to feel something more?”
For a brief moment I longed for the time when the doll would sit in the back seat and ask me questions that had more to do with her changing needs than her changing hormonal feelings.
“Well doll…” I began, “Welcome to being twelve years old. Quite honestly, your feelings are supposed to be all over the map right now….because you’re still trying to figure out who you are…” I said. “Does this make me a bad person?” She wondered. “No, more of an honest one. Listen, when you have two friends who are arguing you may want to step in and help them resolve their differences…” I started but was interrupted, “Mom, I don’t want to get in the middle of their argument. But I don’t know if I’m supposed to feel anything”. “You mean feel bad they are having the argument or feel bad for whomever started the argument? “Yes” she replied. “Doll, you’re all sussing out who you are. You’ll know when it’s appropriate to feel or not…” I said.
“As for Mrs. Krempa, you’re sad she’s gone right?” “Yes. But I’m not horribly sad. I mean there were some kids who were really crying at her service. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about that…” She expressed. “Were you two super close. I mean did you spend your entire recess hanging out with her?” I asked. “No, that would be the boy” The doll replied. “I was more of the type who said hello to her when I’d see her and I think I’ll miss seeing her, but I’m not sure if I’m supposed to feel more…” She explained. “Doll you are over thinking things again. The fact of the matter is your grieving her passing. You know, funerals are not for the dead–they are for the living who now have to face the world without their loved ones and everybody grieves differently. Your reaction is perfectly normal” I concluded.
There was a pause in the conversation while she thought about what I had said. After a minute or so she turned to me and said, “Wow mom those were some good answers. When my daughter asks me some tough questions, I’m not sure I’ll have the answers for her”. Surprised I replied, “Well there is something to be said for experience. Life is one big learning curve….and thankfully I’m able cull those lessons on occasion. When you have kids…you’ll have life lessons to look back on to help you too…” I suggested.
‘That reminds me…” the doll began, “Yesterday at lunch, my friends and I talked about how our parents would feel if we got pregnant while in school….”