When they came home from their dad's house, I was tucked up on the couch, laptop on a pillow, feet in warm socks, long johns under my nightgown, pretty well done in by my day. It happened that I did not get home before the pick-up time, and my only contact with The Princess had been by phone.
There is tension about boys, or rather about Guitar Boy, and there is a dance at school Friday, and I wondered if there wouldn't be some angst to share. But when I called from the car, she shared nothing and sounded fine.
Even so, I was not surprised to see her crumple onto the couch, first saying she was tired, then that her ear hurt, and finally, finally, that Guitar Boy had hurt her feelings, probably unintentionally, today.
All the things I want to say, all the sensible, supportive words and phrases, ring hollow in my mind. I choose my words carefully; don't screw up and get pushed away again, I think.
It's possible there are no right words. I know that. But if I could, I would take away her sorrow, and her liking for Guitar Boy, and make her love me the way she did when she was 3, and I knew how to comfort her.
Tonight I settle for coaxing her into a hug. This girl, taller than I, with painted fingernails, who cries over a 12-year-old and continues to like him even though he has a girlfriend, worries me. I wish she could be more fickle and learn to like someone else. She breaks my heart by saying, "I guess I'm just not the kind of girl some boy walks up to and asks to a dance."
I remember this. I remember Alex who said, "I sort of like you, as a friend." I remember Jesse, too surly to even say that much. I remember Billy and Brad and John and so many others, all heart-breakers, all bastards, all boys who didn't like me, or did but changed their minds. (And let's not get started on the ones who turned out to be gay…)
But even for me, and I fewer charms to offer than those she possesses, even for me the day came when there was young love that lasted more than a day or a week or a month. I'm sorry for her, sorry that she feels sad and less than, but I'm relieved that she won't be slow-dancing with a date on Friday night in the school gym. I'm glad of that.