We'll have to talk about this tomorrow, you say.
There's nothing to talk about, says your teenager.
Well, there is. You missed your curfew and we need to discuss how to proceed.
She doesn't remember. She gets involved in a movie and forgets. Forgets to call. She doesn't remember, at night, that she has a hard time getting up in the morning. It's my problem, she says when confronted. I should solve it myself.
But you seem unable to do so.
You tell her that she will demonstrate the ability to handle a later curfew by meeting the one she has. Well, how can I show I can handle it if you won't let me try, she says again.
Meet the one you have, you say again. Is there an echo in here? It seems you've had this conversation before.
It's my life and my curfew, she says. I don't think I should even have a curfew. You know she thinks that.
She does not remember an accident years ago that claimed a young life. You have told her about it. She says that this memory has nothing to do with her, that she never even met him, and that it's not fair that she should be affected by what hgappened to him. But it feels to you that it has everything to do with her, that the world bristles with sharp things, that all of them are aimed at her. Once tragedy has struck once, it quickly feels likely to strike again. You know that this is absurd. But it is in the bone.
She says that she can take care of her self. That she is not stupid. ,i>Oh, no, you say to yourself, you're not stupid. Not by a long shot. You know -- you are the one who duels with that agile mind many times a day. You are the one who wants it to remain sharp and strong more than you want that for your own mind, want its wit to keep on long after you are dead, want that sharp mind to remember you and let you continue to protect from across the decades after your own death. You think of a monitor in a hospital ICU, think of a ventilator, think of those eyes closed, of that face still, drooping, and your heart stops.
This is about her rights, she thinks. Of course she thinks that. She knows she will never die, that nothing can really hurt her.
We'll talk about it after school, you say. She slams her bedroom door shut.