Lynette stared at her daughter in annoyance and tuned out the whining. Who was this defiant teenager and what had she done with Lynn’s sweet baby girl? And why on earth were they squabbling over shampoo at 10:20pm on a Tuesday night? The house was a disaster. The sink was full of dirty dishes no one had bothered to rinse and the longer this argument continued the harder it would be to scrape off the stuck-on food. The dog was sitting by the front door whining; clearly no one had taken her for a walk yet so Lynn would have to do that, too. There were lunches to pack, clothes to wash, homework to check, and Lynn still had papers to grade before class the next morning. It was so hard to do it all by herself… she ached for Paul.
“… so you will have to take me to the store NOW!” Michelle’s demanding whining interrupted Lynette’s trip down memory lane. Lynn returned her attention to this asinine argument with her thirteen-year-old.
“Michelle, for Pete’s sake, I cannot just drop everything and take you to the store at 10:30 at night! Ben and Liz are asleep upstairs, which is where you should be too by the way, and I still have a million things to do tonight!”
“You always have a million things to do! You never have time to do what I need to do!”
“I ALWAYS have time for your needs! But you don’t need shampoo, you have a bottle in your hands!” Lynette was losing patience with the squabble, and couldn’t stop thinking about all she still needed to accomplish.
“But this isn’t the right kind of shampoo!!!” Michelle continued to whine with her hands on her slender hips.
Lynn was having flashbacks to when Michelle was two years old and would throw epic tantrums. But Michelle wasn’t two anymore and this was ridiculous. “Michelle, I am not taking you to the store tonight, and I am not buying you new shampoo. This will wash your hair just as well as the expensive stuff and it smells like peaches. Who doesn’t love the smell of peaches?” Lynn tried desperately to lighten the mood. But the scowl on Michelle’s face indicated that she did NOT, in fact, love the smell of peaches and was not amused by Lynette’s attempt at humor.
Lynette sighed. “Michelle, it is way past your bedtime and this discussion is over. Please go upstairs and get ready for bed.”
Michelle glared at Lynette, her dark brown eyes flashing fire. “I am NOT using this shampoo!” she spat.
“Then you can be the weird greasy girl who doesn’t wash her hair!” Lynette snapped back.
“I HATE YOU! You’re such a bitch! I wish you had died instead of Daddy.”
Lynette gasped and took a step back, feeling physically assaulted. Shock, horror, remorse and sorrow flashed across her daughter’s face but it was too late; the words could not be un-spoken.
“Mom… Mom I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to say that…” tears streamed down Michelle’s cheeks as she stuttered out an apology.
“Go to your room, it is bedtime,” Lynette whispered.
Michelle turned and raced from the room. Lynette stood frozen in stunned disbelief for minutes or hours, her to-do list forgotten. Suddenly Lynn’s stomach turned sour and she rushed to the bathroom.
Hot, angry tears collided with the cold bathroom floor as Lynette sobbed. How had a simple squabble over cheap shampoo let to this? Lynn brought her knees up to her chin and sat there shaking. She ached for Paul.