My Teenage Zombie

This morning, the teenage zombie lurches from her bedroom, dressed for early morning high school off-season volleyball practice. Another late night of homework and studying for advanced placement-something or other.

The pre-teen, already at the junior high since 7:00 a.m., is most likely running laps to warm-up for school soccer practice.

The 4th and 2nd grader are bustling about the kitchen, seeking out mom-acceptable components to their school lunches, finding ways to be distracted, getting homework signed, and stopping to give one of the terriers a belly rub.

By 8:00 a.m., I’m dropping off the teenage zombie at the high school, who may have mumbled, “Thanks,” as she sloughs off into the gym entrance, shoulders hunched by the weight of a gym bag on one shoulder and an army-size backpack on the other.

Suddenly, all the morning madness is over.

Poetic pause.

On the drive back home, I think about the teenage zombie, frustrated with her teachers, worried about her lack of sleep, wondering what I can do to make her life a little easier.

I get a text from the teenage zombie.¬†I didn’t even touch the smoothie, so you can drink it.

I glance at the homemade smoothie she left in the car’s cupholder and frown, the frustration rising.¬†Next, a text from the pre-teen.

My soccer coach wants me to play center midfield. I beam!

Cool! I text back, thinking how I appreciate the coach quickly noticing her athleticism.

I don’t like playing center midfield, she texts back.

Ugh.

I go about my day, running errands, picking up groceries for the dinner, and thinking through the after-school logistics. The whole while, my older kids’ issues are at the fore-front of my thoughts. How is my teenage zombie going to ever survive three more years of high school if she looks like this as a ninth-grader? College is going to eat her up and spit her out. I’ll have to be ready to pick up the pieces.

As the end of the day, I stand in the bathroom, brushing my teeth in my p.j.’s, thinking about what’s on the plate for tomorrow. The teenage zombie enters, shuffles over to me, throws her arms around my neck and melts onto my chest, her light brown hair surrounding me. At least my teenage zombie doesn’t smell like death. Her aroma is more like a soft honeysuckle lotion from Bath & Body Works.

“Thanks for everything today, Mom.” She gives me a sweet smile, turns around and shuffles back off.

She’ll survive, I think and smile. Just how I survived college, years ago when I was a teenage zombie.