Your mother apologizes for this morning's crabby bad start. This 6 am wake-up call is new for her, too. She's not yet accustomed to this new kind of morning -- still dark, nobody else awake, just the two of you whispering through a sleeping house.
Every morning at 6:10 am, she puts on her running gear. Walking downstairs, she can hear you eating breakfast, alone. The spoon and bowl click. You slurp a little, sweetie. The sounds amplify in the dim house, just like that crisp click click of dog toenails.
She sees that solo morning breakfast as a metaphor for your current journey -- off into the great morass of junior high, attending a school where you have ZERO friends to see you through. Not only are you alone there, you haven't caught many other breaks, what with living across town and being the first one on the bus and last one off to log in a 50 minute ride. Then there's algebra! And all the new parental focus on homework, the crackdown on screen time, the near elimination of games.
You are all full of want: laptop, new speakers, Wi, X Box, private television and a media room to put said desired equipment. You know that none of those things are in your immediate future, but still, you hope. To that end, you have requested gainful employment -- a job. But when you're 12, not only are jobs hard to come by, but largely illegal.
You have a permanent 5 o'clock shadow on your upper lip.
You're not quite at home, anywhere. Not in your imperfect bedroom, with all its pedestrian technological bent; not in the school of 700 where you recognize only 3 kids by name; not on the bus for an hour--no friends there (yet) either. And certainly not in your body and mind, both in transition between being a kid and being a teen. That media room you need tomorrow? Well, that's probably something to aim for in your first house, post-college (um. . medical school?).
Comparing your situation--stark, in your view--to your sister's recent success and buoyant mood doesn't help, she knows. She wishes you didn't have to listen to inappropriate Rent songs about sex, either. Did you notice this? When someone asks the Matron how her "little star is doing" she says, "Why Stryker's doing great" and then goes into explanation. She skips the other one.
She's SO proud of you for not complaining. Sure, you describe your current situation and even unhappiness, but do so like an adult, facing the facts. She's proud of your dedication to homework and the ease with which you took on new challenges.
It really doesn't matter that you couldn't find the Stephen King book today. The Stand was one of your mother's favorite books as a Young Miss, and she's tickled pink you're taking it on at twelve. She's sorry she was angry that you weren't 100% prepared--like you have been every day so far.
So she scolded you and then rolled her eyes and nearly imploded when she realized you had forgotten your lunch too! Now, she knew she had packed it and left it on the counter, but suddenly, everything was all your fault.
Later, when she found The Stand on the table by the parental bed, she remembered why it was there. Blue and lonely on Saturday night, you'd asked to sleep with your parents. Just once, again.
Sometimes she forgets, sweetie, that even though you're nearly as tall as she is, in the scheme of things--you're still not just her baby, but a baby. And 12 was raw and vulnerable when she stood in those shoes. The world seemed endless and utterly unknowable.
So she's sorry she was crabby. In her heart, you're new again. She's kissing each perfect finger, smelling those sweat soapy toes. Loving you just like she did back then, when every last thing you did was adorable, perfect--even when you aren't (and she isn't) now. That's how she's going to approach 12.