"Hailey, " I said but still no response so I said it a little louder this time, "Hailey."
That got her attention. She pulled out her earphones and looked at me like I was an alien and I felt a little bit like one. I was in teenager outer space with all its hormones and surliness and crankiness and I didn't know how to communicate, to let her know I cared and wanted to be there for her. She'd once been such a happy, pleasant child who loved to be around me and now, she acted like she couldn't stand being in the same room with me. I tried not to take it personally but it's hard to have all that negativity aimed at you and not take it personally. I was looking forward to some chocolate donuts later tonight!
"Hi Hailey, how was your first day of school?" I asked in my most pleasant, happy voice. My newest mantra was to try and always keep it positive. It was kind of a losing battle around our house but you can't win the war without a battle plan.
"Awful,” word settled between us, festering into something far worse than just awful before she continued on. “I didn't know anyone. No one talked to me all day and then I came home, on a bus full of kids who also did not talk to me. I hope you're happy now. I am at a new school, because of you, and I have absolutely no friends, because of you, and I'm a big loser, because of you. Why couldn't you and dad have just stayed together until I graduated!?!"
"Well, dear, we've been over that last question. Have you forgotten about his girlfriend?” I tried to call her the girlfriend in front of the girls but in my mind she was known as the Bimbo, the one who helped break up my marriage. Every two weeks, the girls stayed with my ex-husband and the Bimbo for the weekend so it should be fairly apparent why her father and I could no longer be together. Two’s company, three’s a crowd. “It wasn't possible so let's talk about your day. I find it hard to believe that no one talked to you all day?" I asked.
"No, you're right. The lunch lady asked me if I wanted ketchup with my fries and my English teacher asked me to introduce myself since she knew I was new to the school but I don't really count them. Life sucks and it's your fault. Can you just leave me alone now? You've ruined my life enough. I just want to listen to my music," said Hailey and she put the earbuds back in her ears.
I exhaled. I hadn't even realized I'd been holding my breath through most of that.
"Macy's at the neighbor's house by the way," said Hailey without even looking at me. She was done.
I left the room and went across the hall to my bedroom. For the hundredth and one time I too wished that their father could have stuck it out for another couple of years or until death do us part, either one would have been fine with me but he had a girlfriend he wanted to be with more than he wanted to be with me. I felt the tears coming on so I pushed all those thoughts away. I grabbed a chocolate donut from my secret stash in my nightstand and then I changed out of my work clothes and put on some jeans. They were a little tighter since the last time I wore them and although I'd like to blame the dryer, I knew the chocolate donuts were probably to blame. I'd have to go back to carrot sticks soon. I decided to go get Macy from her friend's house a couple of doors down. She had made friends with Julie Smith the moment we'd moved in and they'd been inseparable the last two weeks before school started. She would have better news about her first day of school and I could do with some good news.
I knocked on the Smith's door and Janie Smith, the mother of Julie, opened the door.
"Hi," I said, "I've come to get Macy."
"Of course, Amy, come on in. How are you?" asked Janie.
"Well, there have been better days," I said even though I knew I was supposed to say I was 'just fine'.
"Oh, bad day at work?" Janie asked.
"No, it's just Hailey. She had an awful day at school. No one talked to her and she is really bummed about it," I replied. I wanted to share it all but I was just here to get Macy and I hadn't known Janie very long.
"No one talked to her the entire day? That seems odd."
"I know, I thought so too, so I asked her about it and a couple of adults talked to her but I guess that doesn't count to a teenager," I said.
"Well, I'll have to talk to Jonathan about it. He's in eleventh grade and I know she's in tenth grade but we can't have Hailey going around all day having no one talk to her. I'll have him look out for her, at least to begin with. It can be hard to start at a new school, not knowing anyone. I should have thought of this before. At the very least, he can make sure she has someone to eat lunch with," Janie said.
"That would be wonderful. This transition has been so hard on her and I think it would really make her day to have someone be nice to her. I know it would make my day. Thanks again!" I said, a little relieved that there would be no repeat of today.
"No problem, let me get Macy," and she was off to the back of the house and Macy and Julie came running around the corner.
"Mom, I had the best day ever at school," said Macy.
"Yes, it was totally awesome," said Julie, "because we're in the same class and we had so much fun."
"Good, I'm glad someone had a good day today. We've got to get home Macy and make dinner," I said. Mrs. Smith walked back around the corner. "Tell Julie and Mrs. Smith thank-you and then we can get out of their hair," I said.
"Thanks Julie, it was a blast today. Thank-you Mrs. Smith for letting me come over and play."
"Macy, we're glad you were able to come over and play but I was just thinking Amy, why don't you guys come over for dinner tonight?" asked Janie. "I know you haven't made anything yet since you just got home from work and it will give the kids, all the kids," she said with a knowing glance at me," a chance to get to know each other."
I was hit with a whole lot of pleases and begging glances. Julie even got down on her knees. I knew this was a chance for Hailey to get to know someone and talk to another teenager. I couldn't say no, even though I did not want to intrude on their family dinner.
"Oh, okay Janie and thank-you so much for inviting us," I said and was greeted by cheers from Macy, Julie and even Janie. Macy and Julie went running off to the back of the house. "I want to contribute something to the dinner Janie, I have a bag of salad or I know we have a gallon of ice cream and some chocolate donuts we could bring for dessert," I replied, a little depressed about sharing my donuts but remembering it was for a good cause.
"How about you bring the dessert. That sounds terrific. I love chocolate donuts! Dinner will be done in about 20 minutes, does that sound good?"
"That sounds great. Now I just have to go convince Hailey to come back with me for dinner." And come to terms with relinquishing my last box of chocolate donuts. I may need to make an emergency run later tonight, depending on how this dinner went.
"Well, use your Mom magic. Mom's always know the right buttons to push."
"I'm always pushing buttons but lately I'm never sure if they're the right ones or not but we'll both be back in 20 minutes. Thanks again Janie," and I was off to convince the surly teenager, who no one had talked to at school today, to come eat dinner with mostly strangers. Piece of cake (or chocolate donut), right?