I looked up from my book as our 13-year-old daughter opened the passenger side door and threw her book bag into the floor board. "Hey, baby," I said. "How was your day?"
"Fine," she said as she climbed into the car, pulled on her seat belt, and exhaled. Her face was flushed from dance practice, the little hairs at her temple wet from perspiration. She was thirsty.
"I'm thirsty," she said and I told her we would stop and get a drink on the way home. And then I did it -- I crossed the line. I asked another question past the requisite "How was your day?"
"What did you do today?" I asked and I immediately saw the look -- that look -- in her eyes. She was in no mood to talk. And she said so.
"I would like to tell you that I am not in the mood to talk. It was a long day and I am tired and would just like to be quiet," she said. Well. Ahem. Uh. I was more than slightly taken aback as we pulled into traffic. She was not rude. She was not disrespectful.
"Everything is okay?" I half-stated, half-asked, tempting fate. She sighed.
"Yes. Mom, I just don't like talking when I am tired. Please," she said, and she stressed "please" as if she might let down the window and jump out if I asked another question. Well, okay then.
I can appreciate her honesty. I can certainly relate. There are things I don't like either.
I don't like political commercials. I don't like plastic flowers, either. I don't like late night television and I don't like it when people say, "I need to talk to you," and don't tell me what they need to talk to me about so I am paranoid until I talk to them.
I don't like feeling paranoid.
I don't like the smell of broccoli when it is cooking. I don't like sleeping in socks or being behind someone in line at the grocery store that keeps changing their mind and sends their children to go get more stuff as they are checking out. I don't like lizards.
I don't like candy that is orange. I don't like coconut unless it is cleverly disguised in chocolate or some other concoction that makes me not realize it is coconut until I have already eaten it. I don't like sunburns or the sound the bumper makes when you are backing out of a sloped driveway and it scrapes the pavement.
I don't like that I can't buy mayonnaise in a glass jar anymore because mayonnaise jars with metal screw on lids were the best jars to keep and collect things in, even though I don't like mayonnaise. I don't like to hear people chew. I don't like that I am incredibly self-conscious and the fact that I quit taking piano lessons when I was nine because somebody laughed at how I played "Hot Cross Buns."
"I will not ask you any more questions," I said to our 13-year-old daughter as we pulled into the drive-thru to get her a drink. "I understand how you feel. I had a long day, too, and I'm tired. I don't like to talk a lot when I'm in a bad mood and I appreciate your telling me how you feel. I'm glad we can talk about these things. You know you can always talk to me because that's what I'm here for. I'm glad ..."
She turned and looked at me, her eyes filled with ... what was it? Understanding? Appreciation? We were bonding. I thought I might cry.
"Mom, you talk way too much," she said. Alrighty, then.
I don't like it when she's right.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.