My youngest daughter now calls me Vlad, as in that Roguish Romanian Prince of the 15th century who decorated his palace with heads on spikes -- that's where we got the modern idea for food on a stick at county fairs. That impish Transylvanian impaler was commonly known as Dracula and was also was a three-time Voivode of Wallachia, ruling mainly from 1456 to 1462. Interesting tidbit: Elvis originally wanted to sing "Viva Voivode" but was overruled by his agents, who said that Americans were just not that into Slavic titles.
The reason she calls me Vlad is that she refuses to call me by my preferred name, which is Queen or Your Royal Highness. This moniker came about last weekend when, after getting attitude from both daughters, I informed them that they are NOT living in a democracy in this house; this is a Monarchy and I'm the Queen. If I politely ask them to do something, it is not a request -- it is a demand that they are to obey immediately.
I even showed them how to leave a room when we're in it, backing up and bowing and scraping and doing silly things with their hands.
I've strayed way too far from my dad's patented method of Parenting through Terror. (My sisters' friends called him Terrible Tom -- this is true). It would never have dawned on him to ASK us to do anything; if he commanded me to dress like a monkey and play my accordion in the street for money, I was out there in a flash.
Other members of the family stood up to him; the consequences were often dire. As the youngest of five, I never subjected myself to his wrath -- I tiptoed through childhood, wanting only to stay out of his way. My kids can't imagine life where they're afraid of their dad or me. Like many kids, they seem to save their worst behavior for me: whining, arguing, throwing hissy fits. When I told my oldest daughter the other day that she can't miss homework assignments with the excuse "I forgot," she reminded me that I forget things all the time. And added, for good measure, that I was fired from my job (which is not the case, but we won't go into that).
My kids generally know where to draw the line - I'm a smart-ass and they come by it naturally. As an example, one of my sisters visited from Pennsylvania over the summer; we were in line to get snacks for "The A-Team" -- sophisticated humor runs through my family, as my loyal readers know. I can't remember why, but my sister called my youngest daughter a big loser -- shock, gasps and dirty looks pointed in our direction. My daughter, of course, thought it funny -- she knows she's not a loser and that no one in the family thinks so.
However, the girls seem to have forgotten what a fine line it is between being funny and disrespecting mom. First their friend across the street told my youngest daughter "I can't believe you talk to your mom like that." Then my next door neighbor essentially said the same thing. Confronted with both of them not only crossing the line but kicking sand in my face, I snapped -- they are lucky they only got a lecture; we seriously talked about hanging them by their thumbs in the garage. My youngest started calling me Vlad after things had calmed down -- that's the kind of sassiness I find funny.
Some tranquility has returned to the house, as much as it can for a household where mom's morning coffee contains less caffeine than anxiety, tension, nervous tension and constant worry. I'll admit, I've been a bit more on edge than usual. I've been unemployed since July. The girls have moved from a home school environment to a magnet school with about 1,500 kids. Both are pissed that I signed them up for the science house vs. the arts. I tell them they'll have plenty of time to wait tables in their lives; no sense doing it at 37 while waiting for their big break. Besides, I thought the chances of their getting into that school were pretty slim to begin with.
I sent a note to a friend today telling her that I'm surviving (because it is all about me). Actually, we're all surviving. I've been as hard on the girls in some ways as my dad was on us: I found myself pouncing on them as soon as they walked in the door from school, peppering them with questions, blowing every misstep way out of proportion, wailing and gnashing my teeth - acting like a martyr is one of my core competencies. (A special thanks to Vicki, Lori, Kristy and Sherry for responding to my crazy messages instead of un-friending me.) At their old school, we took for granted that if they were doing okay, we wouldn't hear much from the teachers. Now we can check online to see their assignments and progress: what a mixed blessing. I found myself acting Ike a teenager in love - checking obsessively to see if my boyfriend has posted anything there.
Now I only check edline three times a day and my tongue has been bleeding at an alarming rate from biting it. I miss the days when they thought I hung the moon and knew everything. My oldest turned 14 yesterday, and sometimes I have to catch my breath when I see them walking away from me.
"Sixteen springs and sixteen summers gone now
Cartwheels turn to car wheels through the town
And they tell him 'Take your time, it's won't be long now
'Til you drag your feet to slow the circles down.' "
Joni Mitchell, the Circle Game