When it comes to Mother-Daughter relationships, at least with my youngest daughter – Miss Fliss-now aged 12, it all comes down to the fish cakes.
In a moment of whimsy the other night I was reminiscing with the kids about what they remembered about the fun times we had when they were younger. We do that from time to time, I think it’s important for the kids to have a strong oral history of our lives together as a family. I’m not sure where I’ve got this idea from, maybe it’s a Maori idea that I’ve latched onto, or maybe it’s because it’s what we did in my own family when I was growing up?
The kids were talking about all sorts of funny memories some including crazy moments together (inappropriate nuddiness at Kohi beach for example, or telling a shop keeper that I had no money as I was filling out a cheque!) when Miss Fliss mentioned the fish cakes. As in, the fish cakes we used to share after dropping the big kids at school. I couldn’t remember at first and it took a moment of reflection and then, there it was, a sepia coloured vignette. Miss Fliss aged three or four sitting like a lady at the cafe with her baby cino (fluffy) and me with my industrial strength (syringe optional) coffee, and between us a large smoked kawawhai fishcake.
I could never have guessed back then that those moments would be so treasured, by Miss and by me (once I’d spit-polished the memory bank).
So yesterday I took time out of a hectic schedule to take lunch with my youngest young lady. As Son was at work and Dark Princess had some quality time with her step-father I decided it was Miss Fliss and my turn.
We grabbed our coats and raced up to the local Sainsburys cafe. It wasn’t flash, and was hardly the cute little cafe in Kohi by the beach, but they serve proper coffee and you can close your eyes to the lurid orange sign-posting and staff with hair nets.
It did not matter that we were sitting on plastic chairs, typically used for emergency seating in public halls, or that every now and again we could hear the call for ‘Customer Service to checkout please’. There was no ambience. No music, no display case with immaculate cakes and special treats. No cosy armchairs or even people to watch.
But there was my daughter and me.
The ladies who lunch.
Over lunch we chatted about a myriad of things – about her 100% mark in geography, how art club had been (‘awesome’) and how she wasn’t just copying the Manga style of drawing she was developing her own style. Geez Mum. Eye-roll. And then she floored me and reminded me just how precious these moments are when you’re the youngest of three kids in a very busy family.
“I wish sometimes that I wasn’t so happy and cheerful all the time, and that people didn’t think that I was so flighty,” she said.
I looked up quickly to reassure her and caught her looking wistfully out of the window a tear in her eye. She was fighting a weighty bundle of emotions, but despite her efforts it started to slide down her reddened cheeks, as she hastily wiped it away.
“But you’re not flighty Fliss, you’re happy go lucky. And that’s a great thing.”
But she wasn’t hearing my reassurance.
“People don’t think I’m very deep…”
I could see in her face the need to be ‘seen’. The real her she is fast becoming, not the easy happy-as baby of the family.
“But you are! You are very sensitive and caring.”
Just the other night she had asked me as I sat in a foetal position on the couch whether ‘I was hurting inside’.
The storm clouds passed and the sun lit up her face, and we, the ladies who lunch, continued our cheerful, light banter.
A lesson learnt – I must never forget how vulnerable it is being 12 almost 13 years old, and must make more time (no matter how busy I am) for lunch with my young lady.
Do you ever forget how important one on one time with each of your children is? How do you make sure you prioritise that time?