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A Little Too Late
Written By: Tammy Ferebee

               I nervously tap my French manicured nails on the kitchen table. I don’t need anyone to tell me I did something wrong. I know I did. When you need help confronting your own child, without a doubt, you took a wrong turn somewhere.
              “You’ve got the upper hand.” She coaches, “Don’t let her lead. Don’t accept her lies.”
               I nod.          
              The door swings open and in walks my sixteen year old looking closer to my age than the friend she’s walking in with.            
             “What’s up, Ma?”        
             “I thought you told her to come alone.”            
             “Nice to see you, too, Auntie Carol,” my daughter directs at my sister.
             “This is my friend Gaby,” she introduces.“She can wait in my room while we talk.         
             With no more than a wave, Gaby exits the kitchen and heads up the staircase in search of the door with the Do Not Disturb sign hanging center.            
             “So what’s up, Ma?”    
             “The hanging out late. I want to talk to you about that.”
             “Mm-hmm.”          
             “It has to stop, Danielle. You’re only sixteen. You’re too young to be acting so grown. I know that I’ve been lenient, but we need to discuss curfew.”            
              She folds her arms. “Curfew?” Her tone defensive.          
              Carol jumps in. “Watch that tone, little girl.”            
              “I’m talking to my mother.”         
              “And, I’m talking to you.”         
               I stand. “Now listen, I don’t want this to become a fight. I just need to discuss a few things with you.”
               Carol looks at me. “Stop beating around the bush. Ask this child what you need to ask her. Who’s the mother here?”           
               I cut my eyes at my sister before turning back to my daughter.            
              “Ma, did I do something wrong?”          
              “This relationship you’re in.”           
               She quickly questions, “What about it?”           
              “I’m not feeling too good about it anymore.”           
              “And why is that?”
              My tone soft and calm. “You’re not spending as much time at home, your grades are slipping, you’re making your relationship a priority. I’m concerned, sweetheart. I don’t like the way you’re changing. I’ve heard through the grapevine that there are some rumors circulating.”
              “That’s what girls do, Ma. They talk.”           
               Carol jumps in. “Yeah, but all rumors start from somewhere.”          
              “What are you accusing me of?”
              “Look I wasn’t born yesterday. I know there isn’t a party every other night. I also know with the way your grades are slipping that you aren’t studying every night like you say. So what are you doing?”          
               Danielle turns to me.
              “Look at me!” Carol demands. “I’m talking to you, now. Answer my question.”
              “I’m studying.”         
              “Then why are you failing?”           
              “I’m not failing.”          
              “Oh, right. A D is still passing. I forgot. I still can’t wrap my mind around that. Talk your way out of this. Your mom called Shawna’s house the other night and her mom said you weren’t there, but Shawna was. Where were you?”        
              “I went to the library.”
              “When you got home, you told your mother you were with Shawna. Why’d you lie?”
              “I was at first, but then I left to go by myself. Why are you asking me this?”
                I jump in, “Carol, stop.”
              She doesn’t. “Do you want to talk about the birth control pills you had hidden in your dresser drawer?”
              “Carol!”            
               Danielle turns to me. “Why are y’all in my room?”
               Carol continues, “Do you think they failed you?” She holds up the unopened box. “Why else would you need an EPT?”
              “Enough, Carol! This is beginning to sound more like an attack.”
              “I’m just doing what you won’t do. I think you have reason to be concerned. A size two doesn’t become a size four for no good reason.”
               I can see the tears form in my baby’s eyes. “Is there anything you want to tell me, Danielle?”
              “You guys have already made up your mind about me. I’m a slut, right, mom?”
              “No, baby.” I reach out to my daughter. “I just need to know what’s going on with you.”
               She pulls away from me. “What happened to trust? To privacy?”
              “I’m concerned, Danielle.” 
              “So that gives you the right to invade my privacy?”
              “That wasn’t my intention.”
              “That’s what you did. And you wouldn’t have done that if you really trusted me.”
              “I do trust you.”
              “Then why are you snooping through my things?”
               "I think I have that right, Danielle. I’m your mother.”
               The room becomes silent. My daughter’s face reveals pain. My sister’s, anger.
               “Can I go, Ma? I don’t want to talk about this when I have company.”
                I hesitate before nodding once. 
                Carol scoffs loudly. “This was a joke. You do know that, right?”           
                I stand silently.
               “You didn’t even get an answer from her.”
                I don’t respond.
               “You keep right on letting her act like she’s grown, Diana, and you’re going to lose her completely. You’re her mother. Her mother!” she repeats. “You’re not her damn friend!”
                I sit back down at the table as my sister leaves. With my face buried in my palms, all I can question is how I lost my position of authority in my household.

 

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