The (s)mothering of the rat

Times are changing for me and my 13-year-old.

Yep, I’ve officially turned into the Don’t Carpe Diem, mom.  I’m sorry, it just can’t be helped.  My first-born is almost as tall as I am.  She’s definitely smarter.  Discussions somehow always turn into the state debate.  I especially like when she corrects my grammar.

She’s on facebook.
Her homework in on the internet.
She wants a smart phone.
Her new room in the basement is her hang-out of choice.

My little girl is growing up and like she likes to blissfully tell me, “I’ll be gone in five years!”  Off to college, off to freedom and a dorm room and no one to tell her to wash her hair.
This is her last year at her little K-8 school where she still plays 4-square at recess.  I love that she still has recess.  We should all have recess.  

But change is a’coming.  Because my husband works at a private boarding school, and she is a “faculty brat,” she has the opportunity to apply for high school.  She took the SSAT in November, had to submit a lengthy application, have an interview, and turn in four recommendations.  

For the past three years she’s heard us say, “Better get good grades if you want to get in…better have some extracurricular activities…show good character – your teachers need to have something nice to say!”

The picture above is of the day she had her formal, sit-down interview with an admissions officer.  She was so nervous, so excited.
She and Gregor foraged my closet for a suitable and demure outfit.  

“It looks like I’m dressed up in my mom’s clothes,” she complained.  

“That’s because you are,” I replied.  Her book?  Les Miserables, which she apparently discussed at great length during the interview. Which makes me laugh.

One more picture, Copey!  “Mom, no, stop it…”

“Bye mom!”  Bye honey…you might get in someday, too if you can remember to bring your homework home and stop forgetting it at school.  Maybe clean out your locker once in awhile…

The other day Cope told me she heard a story on NPR about rats.  She loves NPR.  

“They said that mother rats licked their babies…”

“So I’m supposed to lick you?” I interrupted.


“Sorry.”  Bad Listener.

“They lick their babies and snuggle them and dote on them and up to first year they absolutely can’t give enough love and affection.”  

I nod, approvingly, remember all the rocking, holding, rocking, napping, nursing…

“But…” she raises her eyebrows and uses her finger while she talks, “Once they get to be a certain age the mother rats have to let go and the babies have to go off on their own and if you don’t let them they actually regress in progress.  They start to go backwards – they actually die.”

“I bet you made that up,” I say, knowing she’ll freak out.

“I did not!” she says, stamping her foot. 

“What are you trying to tell me?”

She giggles. 

I swear it wasn’t 5 seconds later when I heard her say in a little voice…”Will you come snuggle with me after you tuck Brynne and Paige in?”

I smile.  And I don’t ask her if she’s going to die from my smothering.  Mothering smothering.  It’s all good.

This is what Cope is still supposed to look like:

Everyday she tells me how many more days she has to wait until she gets the golden letter, which is something like getting the owl from Hogwarts.  Will she get in? 

Today there are 31 more days to wait!

This is a picture is of her dancing on the table on campus, something she did quite a lot of, when we were dorm parents to twelve teenage boys.  Ah, those were the days…room inspections, boy odor sniffing, and ramen noodles.  Sometimes I actually miss it.

If this girl gets in, and you see her dancing on the table next year, they’ll be a lot more (s)mothering discussions.

Love, the mother rat.


9 thoughts on “The (s)mothering of the rat

  1. annewoodman

    Awww! Your little baby rat is growing up! ; )

    I remember feeling just like Cope does, ready to head off to college at age 13, ready to make my own decisions. Tell her it can be fun, but it’s highly over-rated.

    I was very close to my parents but couldn’t wait til I got to go off on my own… I think part of it is a first-born thing. (My friends who were babies or middle-born didn’t have the same urge.)

    I wish her the best! Good luck, Cope! And also, to you, Amy. ; )

  2. Carrie Rubin

    Oh, yes, it’s both bittersweet and wonderful to see them grow up. My 12-year-old son has become very stingy with the hugs, and his older brother gave them up years ago. But every now and then they throw a bone my way. 🙂

    By the way, Amy, did you ever get that email I sent you in response to your question about my publisher?


    Finally, finally blogger lets me comment. I don’t know what the deal is, but I can’t get on to comment. I am reading your posts, though, honestly!!

    What private schools is she applying to? Or if you’d rather not publicize it, I understand. 😉

    I take all the hugs I can get, even when I know they’re trying to weasel something out of me.


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