My Kid Went to Disney World and All I Got Was This Lousy Credit Card Bill
My baby girl is finally home after five wonderful days at the “most magical place on Earth”! Actually, two days at Disney World and three at Universal Studios or something like that. (That headline is a joke, by the way. No credit card bill. She worked at the local Renaissance Festival to earn some of it, and her grandma and I paid for the rest. And because she’s an absolute sweetheart, she brought home souvenirs for us all.)
The first two days she was gone, I spent most of my time lying in bed and watching Netflix. (Umbrella Academy is spectacular! I totally recommend watching it.) Part of that was because it had snowed here and I really had no desire or reason to go driving around in that. The other part was because, holy shit, I missed her so much. She’s been on other trips for like three days and I’ve been okay, but this one was hard. Maybe it was because she was gone nearly twice as long; maybe it’s because she was having so much fun and I found myself wishing I was there with her. The other trips, those are for academic conference things, they’re not really for fun. But five days in Orlando, that’s a blast. Especially since she got to see my parents and spend a whole day with them.
The fact that she was just as excited, if not more, about seeing her grandparents as she was about going to Disney World says a lot about the kind of kid she is. She truly loves her family, and I am very aware of how lucky I am to have such a close relationship with her. In my mom groups, I see so many women talking about how they can’t communicate with their kids, how the kids never leave their rooms, how they never want to spend time with their parents. She’s not like that at all. She has a healthy balance of time with me and time with her friends. I’ve seen moms pleading for advice on how to get their daughters to talk to them and it breaks my heart. We have so much unconditional love for our kids — our babies — and it hurts when it’s unrequited.
The bad news is that forming a close bond with your teenager usually starts when they’re younger and you can’t go back in time and try to build that foundation if you haven’t done so already. The good news is that it’s not too late to start building one now. Start small. Instead of freaking out over what kind of music they’re listening to, ask them about it. Offer to take them and a friend to lunch or a movie. Give them anecdotes about when you were a teen because sometimes I think they forget that we were teens once too. Work on getting to know your kid because they’re not who they used to be. Show a sincere interest in them and their lives, not a forced one. Loving our children is effortless, it comes naturally. Liking them is what’s really going to matter.
That’s what I love most about my relationships with my kids. I don’t just love them, I genuinely like them. And they seem to like me too. There’s not much more I could ask for.