Never trust a teen who wants to talk about school
After she squeezes into her jeggings and trowels on your Elizabeth Arden honey beige foundation -- and just before she is driven into town by you -- your daughter mentions that she needs to talk about school.
You're all ears, you say, fascinated by this uncharacteristic eagerness for things scholastic -- and in August, too.
The thing is, she needs a new school skirt and if Dad thinks he'll be allowed to follow through on his ridiculous threat of making her wear big black elephant pants this term, he's onto a non-runner.
"Really?" you say colourlessly.
You wonder aloud why she even needs a new uniform skirt in the first place -- didn't she get one last year?
"Oh, it's got this big burn mark on it," she tells you.
You were working one weekend and she had to iron her uniform herself, she says accusingly. She's only a child, for God's sake. These things happen.
But that's not the problem.
How come she has to be the one with the al-Qa'ida father who has issues with perfectly normal skirt lengths, not to mention belly-tops?
He flipped the day he saw her and her friend in town after school with their skirts raised very slightly above the knee.
Ever since, he's been threatening to make her buy those big black uniform pants that the school offers as an alternative to skirts for girls with parents like Dad.
Could you do anything? Pleeease?
Ignoring this blatant attempt to get you on side, you say that if Dad wants her in uniform trousers this term, then that's what's going to happen.
Her eyes narrow. Her mouth hardens into a thin line. "You're so mean," she says angrily.
When you were a girl, you were probably doing the very same thing and now you're chickening out of helping her just because you don't want a row with Dad.
"Mothers should stand up for their daughters," she shouts, in a huff, slamming the kitchen door and stamping up the stairs.
You fold your arms and wait.
The Wolverine gets as far as her bedroom door before recalling that she, um, needs you to drive her into town to meet her friends.
The stairs give a tell-tale creak as she tip-toes back down. You listen as she pauses outside the door, working out her strategy.
You assume a suitably surprised expression as she meekly enters, looking contrite and apologising profusely for her behaviour.
"That will never happen again," she says, gazing at you sincerely through eyelashes clogged with thick blobs of your best zoom-lash mascara.