My daughter likes me to be there. “There” is wherever she is—whether it’s on the field at soccer, in the swimming pool, or in the band room at rock school. She’s not content with on the hill near the field, on a chair around the pool, in the school lounge. To some extent, I would simply like to be “here” while she is “there.” Not all the time, of course, but I need to do my thing. And I need her to need to do her thing.
I should probably wait until she’s twelve and starts to loathe me, the way all girls do until age fourteen. But she needs a little independence to prepare her for those awkward, mom-hating teen years. I’m not planning to send her to the park with the dogs alone. Hell, I won’t even let her ride her bike around the block by herself. But when she’s doing things with other people her age—with the appropriate adult supervisors—she should not need me to be visible.
Frankly, by this age, she should be embarrassed by me. After all, I’m the one who marches up to scream at the coach for humiliating the girls by mimicking the way they run, making them examples in front of their peers. I’m the one who blows my lid at the lifeguard who waits for Serena to make a mistake or break a rule known only by the lifeguards, just so that she can put my girl on the bench for ten minutes.
I don’t want to teach Serena that authority figures can’t be trusted; we need to count on our police and our coaches and our teachers. And I don’t want her to get the impression that a mother stomping across the wet concrete or mosquito-filled grass trumps all other authorities, even when she's doing it in the interest of fair play.
I've avoided the pool for much of the summer, sending father and daughter off alone. And I just told my husband that I would not be accompanying my daughter to soccer practice, either. I don’t want to be a soccer mom. Let me feel the pride when Serena scores, but don’t make me privy to how she learned to score. It’ll only piss me off.
Rock School is different. When we first started, Serena was a little shy. She didn’t care if we went next door for coffee during her private lesson. But when all the kids were jamming at Rock 101, she wanted us both visible through the tiny doorway, which means filling the narrow hall with chairs and bodies. I told the director we'd be less hands-on soon, but it’s been weeks. Serena still hasn't let us cut the umbilical bar chord. And now there’s a problem.
This I like to watch.
Serena has become my surrogate rock star. It’s too late for me; I am stricken with old age and fat and random silver wires and a bad back. Occasionally, I lean into the microphone and try to sing one of the girl songs, like "Walkin' on Sunshine" and “Zombie.” Sometimes I tell the kids the chords they’re messing up or shout out the correct lyrics. I make sure Serena's amp is turned up (not to eleven, but one louder). She has gotten so good at guitar that the teacher asks her each week what new song she’s learned to play that she can teach the group. He makes her feel valuable. Though other kids in the group can play well, she exudes this quiet cool, this skilled nonchalance, an aloof rockness that is just so darned attractive, and now especially so because it’s coming from a girl. My girl.
The other day, I took everyone’s email address and volunteered to send the songs, lyrics, chords, tabs—all the stuff they need to know for the following week. I set up a Google Group for them, uploaded all their songs, linked to all their chords, wrote little descriptions of the songs. I even made a logo.
Now I'm afraid she'll decide that rock school is the one place I should pull back. What’s a rocker mom to do?
Wanted: drummer, bassist, and lead guitarist for forty-something original rock band. Practice Friday nights. My basement. Bring beer.
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