February 8, 2003

It snowed yesterday, and Lynn’s school was closed. It turned out to be the best kind of snow — a fluffy six inches that made the backyard vista look like a calendar picture but that could be swept away down to the bare driveway. The sun was out by eleven o’clock and normal life resumed.

This gave Lynn and her friend McKenna ample time to prepare for the King of Hearts dance tomorrow night. They’re having a “progressive dinner” beforehand. Actually, the dinner is something of a cross between a true progressive dinner and a pot luck. Several couples will dine at just one place, the home of the one of the finest caterers in town, who will be providing the main course. Others will provide the appetizer and the salad. Lynn and McKenna signed up for dessert.

They’re making two of Lynn’s favorites, easy dressed up box cakes which also happen to be staples of my annual Christmas party. One is Black Forest Cake (devil’s food layers sandwiching a can of cherry pie filling and then frosted with Cool-Whip), and the other is a red velvet cake (German’s chocolate fortified with red food coloring and eight ounces of sour cream and frosted with a butter-rich icing).

The only help Lynn needed from me was locating the recipes. She and McKenna drove to the supermarket, procured the ingredients and disposable pans, whipped up the cakes, and cleaned up after themselves. The icing they made for the red velvet cake got a little thin, and then they didn’t wait long enough for the layers to cool completely before they slapped it on, so it looks a little like the MacArthur Park cake (“all the sweet green icing flowing down — someone left the cake out in the rain…”).

Lynn needs very little help of any kind from me these days. She’s seven months shy of eighteen, savvy, sophisticated but not disgustingly so, socially confident, self-assured, independent. She’s obedient, respectful, funny, engaging. She has dozens of friends from good families whom we like and trust. She eats well, exercises, does her homework, goes to church. When she was in ninth grade we joked that if she could drive she wouldn’t need us. Well, here we are.

The King of Hearts dance is being held a week before Valentine’s Day because next weekend is the school production of Les Miserables. Lynn’s involved in that, as well as service projects for Key Club and National Honor Society, flute lessons, indoor winter field hockey, faithful attendance at the boys’ indoor winter soccer games, and two physics study groups (one prepares for tests, the other worked on a project to design and construct a roller coaster out of some foam and plastic building materials). Last week she made the honor roll again for the tenth consecutive marking period of her high school career. Everything she does she does by choice. I’ve had experience with parent-driven, overly-ambitious high school kids who spread themselves too thin and do lots of things acceptably but none of them well. Lynn doesn’t seem to be like that.

I commented in yesterday’s piece that Lynn is not a voracious reader of fiction. This fact will come up periodically in conversations with other people. I’ll indicate that Lynn is not as passionate about reading and has no interest at all in writing. Some will express surprise, as if they expect Lynn to be some sort of clone of me. Some will hang their heads as if consoling me over a tragedy. “You must be heartbroken.” One woman actually said to me once, “Oh, you must be so disappointed.”

I want to strangle them.

My daughter is perfect. Got that?

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