Plotting at the PTA, July 2012
“Mom?” my almost-twelve-year old daughter asked. “What’s it like to be in love?”
I almost dropped the bottle of toilet bowl cleaner on the floor. Jenna
had a penchant for choosing odd times for mother-to-daughter talks,
but this was the first time she’d decided to have a heart-to-heart
while I was cleaning the bathroom. If I were smart, I’d find a way to
have her do the cleaning while I talked, but thinking up an answer to
her question was going to take all the smarts I had.
“What is it like to be in love?” I sat on the edge of the tub. “You
mean, how does it feel?” What I really wanted to say was you’re far
too young to be asking this question, come back in ten years and we’ll
have a chat, but since I was the adult in the room, it was up to me to
provide guidance. Poor Jenna.
Poor Jenna hitched herself up on the bathroom counter with the
nonchalance of someone without a worry in the world. “Yeah. You hear
all sorts of stuff, and lots of it doesn’t make sense, you know?”
I knew, all right. “Real love, true love is like…” Like what? And why,
why, hadn’t I anticipated this moment and prepared an appropriate
motherly speech? “Being in love is when you feel more yourself when
you’re with the person you love than when you’re alone. It makes you a
better person. You’re happier. You worry less. Love expands and you
love everybody, not just that one person.” I went quiet, thinking
about my own loves, those long gone and those current.
“So…” Jenna’s frown of concentration made me want to laugh and cry at
the same time. “So all that stuff about fireworks and forgetting your
own name and walking into walls, that’s not real?”
Oh, boy. “Sometimes.” I cast about for an analogy. “Remember when we
got Spot? Do you remember how excited you and your brother were when
we brought Spot home?”
Her bright smile lit my heart. “Sure,” she said. “That was awesome.”
“Are you still as excited to see Spot when you get home as you were
that first week?”
She frowned, remembering, thinking, comparing. “…Nooo. Not really.”
“But you love him very much, don’t you?”
“Well, yeah. Lots.”
“That’s love,” I said. “Exciting at first, because it’s new. Then it
gets to be an everyday thing, maybe not so exciting, but solid and
real and part of you forever.”
She sat there a moment, thumping her heels against the cabinet door.
“So love is like having a dog?”
Silly girl. “A lot like.”
She grinned. “I love you, Mom.”
A very silly girl. I smiled, swallowing down my sudden tears. “And I
love you.” Forever.
Laura Alden’s "Plotting at the PTA" was released in early July. It is
the third book in the PTA Mystery Series.