The Gentle

January 4, 2021

She lurches down the stairs with only one sock on. She has a thick, fluffy blanket wrapped around her, cloak-like, a trademark of a girl who is always cold. And other things.

“Hey, Bunnybunny,” I say.

This actually means something in weirdo parental language. My antennae is up.

She withers me with her eyes and bangs herself into a chair.

She is fifteen.


When all else eludes you as a parent, try carbs.

Wordlessly, I pop an English muffin into the toaster and spread it with a generosity of butter. I slide it her way.

She doesn’t smile.



“How did you sleep?”


I let that sit there a while, listening to her crackle into her breakfast.


“Hey,” I finally say. “You okay?”

Hard shake of the head to the side.

“You wanna talk about it?”

DEFCON glare– “no.”


Her eyes well up and that makes her even more pissed.

“So I’ll be gentle with you today, okay?” *pause* “I promise.”

She nods and goes back up the stairs, blanket tight around her shoulders.


Frankly, I don’t know if this does any good, but never, not ever, as a teenager was I allowed to signal that I was having a bad day and be treated with understanding.

“Jesus. Get your head on straight.”

“You’re too young to be tired.”

“Put some lipstick on the pig.”

“Get over yourself.”


I am probably the least competent parent ever, but I can do this. I can be gentle for a day. I can say that I will tread softly. There be wounds here.


It is not every day, thank goodness.


But today, we need a kinder touch.

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