Rebuilding Miss 17

Last night was a perfect example of the challenges faced by two parents attempting to parent three children. The eldest – often thought of as the most level headed, sensible, and placid – had fallen through the cracks while we juggled football, rugby, dance, and schoolwork with her younger sisters. When she needed us most, we were not there, and I feel awful about it.

I’m not going to get into what happened, or why. Not here. Not yet.

I will talk about last night though, and the idiocy that Tuesday nights have become. It started when I finished work, and cycled into town to meet Miss 17, who had just delivered her little sister to a dance lesson. As I swept into the car park on my bike, I saw Miss 17 leaning against a doorway – her silhouette casting a vast shadow towards me.

After locking my bike up we walked into town, with an hour to kill. I had promised a coffee, so we headed for the nearest caf, and talked about anything and everything – or rather I gently enquired about anything and everything. No sooner had she really started to open up, the coffee shop closed for the night, and we set off first to the supermarket, then back to the dance class.

Half an hour later – after a rapid change of dance leotard to football kit – we arrived across town for football training. Another hour after that I returned again to fetch her. Miss 17 stayed with me the entire time. She commented about the thousands of steps we were racking up, and I laughed – “welcome to Tuesday nights”.

By 9pm everybody was back in the house, everybody had eaten, and I was looking for something to do with Miss 17. Something to take the weight from her shoulders.

“Let’s start a new Tumblr for you.”

And so it was we found ourselves sitting in the junk room together for two hours, looking at Tumblr together – working out what to call her new blog, who to follow, what to like, and so on. If nothing else, the evening opened her eyes – there are lots of other people just like her out there – all thinking they are alone – all worrying about the same things – all struggling to put one foot in front of the other.

At some point as the evening stretched on I suggested we take a break and watch a movie. The Transformers movie looked like the perfect candidate – just something to enjoy without having to think too much. We both fell asleep half an hour in – I woke when my other half shook me at midnight. Miss 17 was stretched across the couch, her legs across my lap – fast asleep for perhaps the first time in several days.

I looked in on her Tumblr this morning, and hid my disappointment. No hearts, no follows, and no comments. As she left for college I copied the two most important posts from last night over to her WordPress blog. It’s funny – despite what everybody says about the internet connecting people, an awful lot of people seem to walk around with very high walls around themselves. Lets hope I’m good at climbing them with her over the next few days.

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