My second daughter has left for university. Because of a misunderstanding with dates, I was in Jamaica when she moved in to her dorm. My husband and best friend moved her in. I came home from the airport and felt my heart sink when I didn’t see the light in her room. I couldn’t go into her room because I couldn’t bear the pain in my heart. I went to bed sad and woke up sad, close to tears. I couldn’t understand my reaction because this daughter is the one who drives me mad. In dark hours of frustration and anger, I’ve told her horrible things like, “I can’t wait for you to leave home,” “You’re living in my house. If you don’t like it, leave.” “Are you sure you don’t want to go to the University of Ottawa, or even the University of British Colombia?” Our fights are turbulent because she is what Canadians would describe as sassy. Jamaicans might say facety (meaning rude and disrespectful. Origin: feisty – full of spirit). It comes across as disrespectful when I am the recipient of it but when she displays this trait to other people, I watch in amazement and awe when she gets what she wants.
When she was sixteen we went across the border to New York. Upon returning, we handed the Canadian border officer our passports. Her passport was Norwegian.
“Where do you live?” he asked her. I started to get nervous.
“Canada,” she said.
“Well I see nothing here to indicate you live in Canada. Your citizenship card is not valid. We don’t use that anymore.”
Panic started to set in for me and my girlfriend. Her anxious face reflected mine.
“Her Canadian passport is coming in the mail,” I said hoping my voice didn’t shake.
My daughter did not panic. She looked at the officer with that expression of indignation and self righteousness and said, “Well, Canada is the only country I know and I’ve lived here since I was two. I have all my report cards to prove it. ” She said it with such sass and finality that the officer looked at her and said, “okay, but there’s still nothing to show you live here.” She looked at him and gave him the one shoulder shrug, the shrug that teenagers use when they don’t give a crap about what you’re saying. He handed us our passports and let us back into Canada. I let out a sigh of relief as we drove into Canada. She however, merely said, “What was he going to do? Deport me to Norway, a country where I’ve never lived, can’t speak the language and separate me from my family. Whatever!”
In Jamaica, we went to Sugar and Spice for patties. She wanted a chicken meal. The picture showed chicken with french fries. They gave her a box with chicken and rice and peas. The server was slow and rude.
Daughter: I don’t want rice and peas.
Server: (shrugging) You ordered the chicken meal. It comes with rice and peas.
Daughter: Well, I don’t want it. The picture you have has french fries. There’s no picture with rice and peas.
Me: Just eat the rice and peas. (Not wanting to make waves. We’d already been waiting a long time.
Daughter: No. I don’t want it. You shouldn’t have a picture of french fries then.
Server: I have to call my supervisor. (This took about five minutes).
Daughter: Fine because I don’t want rice and peas. I want what’s in the picture.
Server: It’s more money with french fries.
Me: (rolling my eyes and muttering under my breath.) Why do you have to make everything so difficult?
Daughter: I ordered what was in the picture. That’s what I want.
I paid the extra and my daughter got her french fries. She left the building with her head held high, her shoulders back and her face set in a determination to take on the world.
As I write this, I can barely continue. Why do I feel so heartbroken? After all, she’s only an hour away. As tears fall down my face, and I don’t feel like getting out of bed to start the day, I think it’s because my family feels like it’s shrinking. Or maybe it’s because life as I knew it has changed so suddenly and abruptly that I’m lost. Maybe it’s because all these years of childbearing, childrearing and wanting freedom, now that I’m getting it, I realize it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Being surrounded by family is what I really want. Having my house filled with my children and their friends is what I really want. Or maybe I miss her. Yes, I think perhaps it’s all of the above but mostly I just miss her.