Kitchen Nightmares. The Bachelor. Jerseylicious. Desperate Housewives … They’ve got nothing on any group of 20 middle school girls. Throw in a few episodes of Dallas, General Hospital and Chopped … and you’re still not even close.
In fact, there’s more drama in my home alone than in every soap opera, fake reality show and on Broadway — combined. And most of it comes from one person.
My sweet baby girl.
Now, before I go any further, know that I see Baby Girl as a participant. A drama vessel, if you will. Also, understand that I love her more than I love anything. She and I are like two peas in a pod. We share the same (dark) sense of humor; an equal penchant for tortilla chips and spicy salsa; and a fierce desire for dilled green beans. We were even born in the same hospital.
But, damn! I wasn’t prepared for Tony-winning performances on a daily basis.
We knew early on that she didn’t much care for silence. As a toddler, Baby Girl would sit in her high-chair and engage us in … conversations. It was a language reminiscent of a Mogwai, and known only to her. Still, we could tell that she meant business, with her constant hand motions as she spoke in paragraphs. Perhaps all of her female classmates have similar stories.
Though I believe Baby Girl’s drama to be somewhat genetic (my side), she and some classmates might have caught a bug from an overemotional kindergarten teacher.
‘Mr. Holland, we’re in the principal’s office calling you about a serious issue,’ the teacher said through a speaker phone.
‘Oh no,’ I responded. ‘What did you do, Baby Girl!?’
‘Well, Mr. Holland, she wouldn’t share her crayons with another little girl in her group.’
And that three-minute conversation went south from there, Baby Girl undoubtedly enjoying my lecture about the difference between social graces and children who should be bringing their own supplies. Needless to say, we never again heard from that teacher. In fact, for several years after that, Baby Girl-related drama rarely reared its head.
Then came middle school.
Being a guy, all I really recall about middle school was cracking voices, the emergence of armpit hair and the discovery of bra straps. I remember popping each other with towels in the locker room or being forced by a coach to do 1,000 yards of belly-flops for chewing gum in English class. When we disagreed about something, we either shook hands and moved on, or scrapped — then shook hands and moved on.
In case you didn’t know, or never experienced it, a single glance from one girl to another in a middle school cafeteria can bring on an avalanche of tears, hairstyle changes and diets, which is then followed by a mountain of rumors. Seriously.
I’ve read handwritten letters that included no fewer than 100 exclamation points (several of which were used to punctuate a single sentence), 20 frowny faces and the words ‘she’ and ‘him’ on every line. The common denominator in all of those letters: no real topic.
It’s even worse when moms get involved. (And they do get involved!)
I’ve been made privy to some motherly efforts that just amazed me. These include text messages written under their baby girl’s accounts, lobbying sessions with band directors, theater teachers, and other moms. And more rumors, of course.
I’m not sure whether they are trying to relive their own days of melodramatic glory, or live vicariously through their engrossed little offspring. But, it happens. Regularly.
‘She makes me want to throw up,’ Baby Girl would say. ‘You just don’t understand, Dad!’
She’s right. I don’t understand. But, I do remember her younger days when such trivial things as the wind blowing made her similarly nauseous. And, I don’t care to revisit those times.
Besides, teen girl drama makes me sort of nauseous too.
If you like what you read here, please help me spread the word. I’d also love for you to join me on Facebook (click the ‘like’ button), Pinterest and Google+. — Special thanks to Megan E. Hawkins at The Underground Writer for editing this piece. Subscribe to her blog for some lively observations, with no unnecessary drama.
The only thing dramatic about the following recipe is the cool creaminess of the avocado dressing; the slight bite of the pepper and the brightness of the cilantro, lime and tomatoes. It’s two traditions fused into one summer dish. I hope you enjoy.
Guacamole Pasta Salad
1 lb – Pasta, cooked al dente
1 cup – Mayonnaise
1/2 cup – Sour cream
Small bunch – Cilantro
1 – Medium Avocado
1 – Small onion
1 – Serrano pepper, seeded
Juice of 1 Lime
1 cup – Cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup – Black olives, sliced
Seasoned salt, to taste
Blend mayonnaise and next five ingredients until smooth. Combine all but about 1/2 cup of the dressing with cooled pasta. Top with tomatoes and olives. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours. Fold tomatoes and olives into cooled salad. Top with reserve dressing and season as desired.