Thursday, April 20, 2006

Here’s a photo of Valentine just before she left for her first school dance. Doesn’t she look sweet? It’s a shame that she (and all the rest of my kids) will probably soon be taken away from me because I am an UNFIT MOTHER!!!!!!
Yes- it’s true. Here’s my sad story- I spent Saturday night helping Valentine get ready for her first ever “bal de lycée”. We curled her hair, then gave her a tousled upsweep. When she put on her new white dress, she looked like a particularly sweet-natured angel (as opposed to the kind that goes around with a flaming sword scaring the heck out of people).
Her friend Shen came over at about 8 o’clock, ready to go. Shen is a lovely girl, but was channeling the 80’s that evening. The side-of-the-head ponytail and white socks with high-heeled mules gave me quite a start. Or is all that back in fashion now? I knew the 1970’s were back. I’ve seen the ugly evidence ( Gaucho pants. God help us all) , but I didn’t know that the 80’s were already back to haunt us. Live long enough and you’ll see everything,- including giant shoulder pads and pinstriped jeans, apparently.
But I digress, trying to put off the moment where I reveal my crime. Let’s get it over with…
Jean-Pierre drove the girls to the dance. MY job was to pick them up when they called later in the evening. Valentine had her cell phone in her purse and promised to call sometime before midnight. “But I might call a lot sooner, if it’s really boring” she added.
So, I watched a film with JP and the other three kids (“Valiant”- the WWII pigeon cartoon, for those of you unfamiliar with the latest in children’s films). By the time it was over, it was around 10:30. Everybody was yawning and heading for bed and I am nothing if not suggestible- especially when it comes to having a little rest. We had turned off the air con in the living room, as it had been on all day. But it was nice and cool in the bedrooms. So I laid down on my side of the bed. In my defense, I was fully clothed, on top of the bedspread and had NO intention of sleeping.
“Are you even going to hear the office phone from here?” asked JP. “You should at least bring your cell phone in here.”
“I’ll hear it”, I said confidently “ The cell phone has been broken for two days, so that’s no use. Anyway, I’m not even going to sleep. I’m just resting” (Here the phrase “Famous Last Words” comes to mind.
Well, I laid down and the next thing I knew, I was waking up in a complete panic. As I bolted out of bed, I could feel that it was late already. I hoped it was 11:30 or so, but I knew better.
As I ran through the living room, I saw the clock. 2 AM!!!!!! Oh. My. God.
I frantically dialed her cell number. As it rang on my handset, I heard a weird little electronic tune come from the living room. Valentine’s cell phone?!?! Did she forget it at home? No, I saw her put it in her purse.
I threw down my phone and tracked down the source- Valentine’s purse laying on a chair.
I ran into her room, and there she was, sound asleep! To say that I was very surprised and VERY relieved is a great understatement, but the best I can do.
I went back to bed planning my acceptance speech for the “World’s Worst Mom” award I would no doubt soon be receiving
Valentine slept as late as she could on Easter Sunday, but we had to be to church by 9, so I had to wake her up. “Where WERE you, Mom? I let the phone ring and ring and ring and you didn’t answer. I was scared!”
I felt like I had just used up every “Good Mom” credit that I had previously earned in my life. She told me that she had tried to call around 11:30 several times. Luckily, a friend that lives near us was a chaperone at the dance and offered to bring her and Shen back home.
We talked about it a while and I explained what had happened. I never realized I was such a deep sleeper. As I spent several years being woken up approximately every half-hour by babies and small children, I figured that I had a good internal alarm system already in place.
Finally, I said jokingly “Gee, Valentine, you could have gotten up to anything and I never would have known! I would have slept right through. You could have gone somewhere and had a party!”
She got right into the spirit of it. “Yeah! I could have gone over to Camille’s house! We could have stayed up REALLY late and then…..and then….” She searched for something appropriately crazy….“We could have gone to bed WITHOUT brushing our teeth!!!!”
There it is, Valentine’s idea of the ultimate decadence. What you do when you really want to get all wild and rebellious: You don’t brush your teeth before bedtime.
I hope her foster mother reminds her to floss.

1 comment:

lynsey said...

After reading Valentine's 'decadent' thoughts, I couldn't believe she was your daughter.

Then I remembered when I first met "Elisabeth" with her hair in french braids and her shirt buttoned all the way up to its lace collar. She IS your daughter.

And you are a good mother. You raised a daughter smart enough to get herself home safely. Well done!