I love it when you pull it off – when you know without a shadow of a doubt that you have pleased your child. Not just a shallow pleasure, like when you tell them they can have ice cream for dessert. I mean a deep down gut pleasure that shines from their face and causes that look that says “My Mom is super cool! She must love me A LOT to do this for me!”

That’s the kind of look that I got from Nikki when I asked if she wanted to skip out of school on Friday afternoon and hang out with me. “Because I won’t be here for your birthday,” I said, “I want to spend some special time with you.” Her eyes lit up and her face glowed. “Are you SERIOUS?” she asked, not quite sure she could trust what she’d just heard. “Yes, I’m serious.” Her face broke into a mega-grin.

This is my occasionally aloof daughter who is beginning to spend more and more time alone in her bedroom, hanging out with her music rather than the real live people in the rest of her house. This is the daughter who gives me more withering looks than smiles these days. The rest of the evening, I was her best friend. She sat close to me, she hugged me a couple of times, she started working out the plans in her mind – like “where will we go for lunch?” and “can we go shopping?” and “will it be JUST you and me?” And when I fed her the icing on the cake – told her that we might get manicures together – I thought she would burst from the excitement of it all.

I have to hang onto this. For only a little while longer, hanging out with mom will still have some measure of coolness. But hopefully, even when she chooses manicures with her friends over manicures with mom, I’ll still find ways to bring her pleasure. Because I know that even when she’s got more attitude than charm, a little part of her will always be my little girl.

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