The Snarl

(No person is your friend-or kin-who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow and be perceived as fully blossomed as you were intended. Alice Walker)

She’s not really. A Snarl, that is. She’s a peach, a gem, a blithe spirit, my joy. Way back when she had a brief period of infant colic we alternately called her either Crabigail or Abisnarl and then it got shortened and stuck as The Snarl. It’s definitely been fitting at certain stages and still is at moments, but by and large, my amphibious alien child is my delight.

She’s taken to Florida in a big way. This seems like heresy to my Mid-Western blood but then I remember that she seems to have protoplasmic material heretofore unknown, coursing through her veins. It allows her to breeze through foreign languages and complex mathematical theories with ease, live underwater and shamelessly eat with the homeless when necessary. Not my blood.

Last Friday (Veteran’s Day) before we arrived she called and wondered if I knew "is there any money hidden at our house" in Florida. (She lives in a little pool house apartment kitty corner from our place and, in a pinch, she can go over and get things like laundry detergent, etc.) I said no, why?

She said that with the weekend looming she had 14 cents. She had lost her ATM card and the replacement had been sent to Michigan and she didn’t realize until too late it was a bank holiday and she was down to her last envelope of Quaker Instant Grits. In true tough love fashion I said, "It’s going to be a long weekend." (I’m not about to start using Western Union at this point in their lives.) She was cheerful enough and said, okay! see you Tuesday morning!

When we got here Tuesday I asked her how she made it through the weekend without food or money. Friday, she and her best friend checked the events board and found a campus club they had no interest in joining but was giving out free pizza at a get acquainted event. Saturday morning, she went to the downtown Saturday morning market and saw a sign that said "Free Food." This seemed Heaven sent to her, since she was getting a little hungry and she followed the line. Halfway through the line someone placed a toothbrush on her empty tray and said, "Bless you." Abby said that was her first hint something was amiss but then they started filling her tray with fried chicken and potato salad and veggies and she was just plain thankful. At the end of the line someone put a stick of deodorant on her tray and said, "Bless you." It was at that point that Abby took a closer look around and realized she was in a line for the homeless and indigent. She said, "Mom, I didn’t know what to do. My tray was already loaded up plus I needed the toothbrush. And I was so hungry." I asked her what she did do and she said, "I looked up, smiled and said Amen!" And then she sat down and ate with the homeless. Sunday she had instant grits and Monday the bank opened so she got out her remaining cash and splurged because, after all, we were coming to the rescue on Tuesday.

She’s doing well in her classes and says she doesn’t feel at all homesick until she sees us. Last night she confided that this was the best of both worlds- living on her own in her own place, going to school and stopping by on her bike to chat with us, be taken out to dinner and so forth. She likes having us come to Florida. Today we have business to conduct; we’re trying to get her completely independent, at least in the eyes of Uncle Sam. This year she is paying out of state tuition- I could buy my own Leer jet for less. By next year she will have eaten through all of her education trust I set up when she was but a babe so she needs to be "in state." To that end, all banking goes through her accounts, she has her own Florida license (which she lost with the ATM card. sigh.), voter’s registration, etc.

This is all somewhat confusing to a child who has viewed herself as totallyA independent since about 16 months of age and isn’t bothered with life’s finer details in any case. She’s been running away from me since she discovered the bucket swings at the park across the street soon after she could walk. Why be tucked into bed with a story when you could escape the bath- run,run,run- and swing, tummy down, buck naked and watch the night sky come and go with every kick? Why live in the house and watch Mr. Roger’s when you could shimmy the large oak and live on the garage  roof with your stuffed animals, your books and a jar of peanut butter?

Over the next few months, Abby is going to get certified for shipwreck diving- a specialty certification that isn’t covered by all the others. She would like a heavier gauge wet suit for Christmas, if at all possible (she’s gained the maturity to add gratefully, "I know you’re already doing so much for me…").

I guess, now that I think of it, she hasn’t always been running away from me. She’s been running towards life.


16 responses to “The Snarl

  1. What a beautiful post, Vicki. You make it so easy to understand why you are so head over heels, crazy for your little girl.

    Oh, and I love your Alice Walker quote….

  2. Beautiful post! Your daughter sounds like an incredibly wonderful young woman! Enjoy your time with her!

  3. “I know you’re already doing so much for me…”

    I say that too, now that I’m in university! Hahahahaha. It’s true though and I began to realise this a lot more being away at school, than I ever did living at home where it was easier to take everything for granted.

    In my case I am thankful for doting aunties who are less hesitant about using Western Union when daughter woefully tells mother that she is subsisting on leftover chinese. 😉

  4. That child is a character. Smart and spirited, just like her mama. Where do these creatures come from?

  5. That last line. . . . wow.

  6. Yep, the last line did it for me too, Vicki. What a kid, and SO resourceful finding food for herself. She will go far in this life, I suspect. Have a great time down south, and give her a little peck from me. She deserves it.

  7. She is intelligent,creative and independent–like my Ashley. It is hard to live with or without them!

  8. Were we aliens like our daughters? These creatures that within the span of one hour you can be deleriously happy to see, hug and be with them and just as suddenly wish they would go back to whatever planet they came from and send your child back to you. I’ve seen Nyssa giggling and making plans with friends one minute and the next instant telling me she doesn’t care if they ever call back.

    I would have to agree with Judy, your girl is certainly resourceful. I had to laugh out loud at eating with the homeless. That is too priceless.

    Nyssa actually called today, no crisis in sight! She got an A- on a big history test, class average was B-. She was quite happy. She was finishing up two papers this weekend and getting a third started. The fourth she will have to work on in Texas.

    I just heard that there may be another storm coming toward Florida, to hit on Monday. Will you be on the way to Michigan then? Take care.

  9. How cool, a shipwreck diving certification. Still having problems getting to your blog, but I am trying every day!

  10. you cannot do anything other than love them. she is such a wonderful kid! my two never cease to amaze me. life is so much richer with children that are out the box

  11. That tough love does wonders for both kid and mom, I’ve found. An old friend of mine always told me that just about the time they get ready to leave, God gives you this fierce need to see it happen. But they always coome back 😉

  12. Your girl wasn’t squeamish about her dining experience with the poor. She was graceful and appreciative. I agree with the folks who gave her the toothbrush and deoderant – bless her.

  13. I pray that when my children are about to hit that full-on head-first collision with life, I can recognize it for what it is as wonderfully as you have. Thanks for sharing these thoughts.

  14. What a sweet post. She is lucky to have such a great mama!

    I routinely ran out of money when I was in college- because my dad would forget to deposit my monthly allowance. I’d call him and tell him I literally had $2 to my name and he’d say, “Well, sorry I forgot, but it’s Friday and I can’t make the deposit until Monday, so just do the best you can.” Different circumstances, but I can totally relate!! Reading your post really brought back memories!

  15. I loved every bit of this beautiful, glorious post, especially the standing in the homeless line and swinging buck naked while watching the night sky.

  16. Abby sounds like a wonderful person to know. You write beautifully about her in this post and I was touched by it.

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