Biting My Tongue


“Hannah, are you coming?  Dinner is ready.”

“I’m coming.  I’m checking something.”

An almost 18 year old and her phone.  Is it Instagram?  Is it Snapchat?  Is it Facebook?  Probably not Facebook, she says that’s for “old people”.  I guess I’m old, I use Facebook.

It is tradition in our family, that on your birthday, you get your favorite meal prepared and served on your special day.  Grace and I did not plan any dinner.  We both anticipated coming home from DMV too late for anything good.  But, the trip to DMV to get Grace’s driver’s permit went surprisingly quick. We were home by 5:15.  Plenty of time to whip up something in honor of Grace.

The dinner was done – a nice chicken, garlic and pasta with freshly grated parmesan.  The house smelled just right for Grace’s birthday.  Grace, Megan and I sat at the table.

One more time.

“Hannah!  Dinner’s ready!”

I hear her feet pounding down the stairs.  I look up and see her coming into the kitchen, phone still in hand.  I notice a goofy look on her face as she stops at the counter, scrolls through her phone, stops. looks again. Suddenly, puts it down and joins us for dinner.

Billy walks in the door midway through dinner.

“HAAAAPPPY BIRTHDAY, GRACE!”  He makes his way into the kitchen.  “Look what I brought home from NYC?”  He holds up a box full of Magnolia Cupcakes.

“Awww.  Thanks, Dad!”

No sooner does Billy join us for dinner, is Hannah exiting the table and back to her phone.

She still has a goofy look on her face.  I see something in her eye that is telling me not to insist she get off.  She is up to something.  I think it’s good.

The dishes are cleared.  Small plates, just right for cupcakes, are placed on the table.  I search the baking cabinet for the 1 and the 6 candle.  Found them.  I give them a quick inspection and determine that despite their repeated use over the years, they do still look like a 1 and a 6.  We can use them.

I head over to the table.  I pass Hannah, who is sitting on the floor, back on her phone.  At this point, I am loosing my patience, but biting my tongue.  It’s her sister’s birthday and she’s barely acknowledging our little celebration, never mind Grace.

Megan shuts off the lights.  I light the candles.  Hannah joins us.

“Geez.  It’s about time.” I think, but don’t say.

We all sing to our Grace.  She blows out her candles.  We clap.  We cheer.  We celebrate Grace.

There are only a few presents to open.  She is going to Italy in April with school.  Megan has the best gift and is giddy as Grace opens it.  It is a pencil drawing from a photo taken at a dance competition.  Grace gets teary when she opens it. “Awww, Meg!  I love it soooo much!  I love you sooo much!”  She gets up and hugs her.   That hug leads to twirls and jumps and general kitchen sillies.

“OK, Hannah, WHAT are you doing on your phone?”  I try to sound curious, not annoyed.

She is back on it.  This time at the table.  Obviously, she is not on it to avoid her family.

She looks up with a grin and a twinkle.

“I got into UCONN!”

No sooner do the birthday sillies subside do the college acceptance congratulations take over.

10 thoughts on “Biting My Tongue”

  1. What a balancing act! This gave me a good glimpse into the dynamics of balancing the three different personalities of the girls. You knowing that something good was going on with Hannah. Letting the phone use slide. Then the interaction between Grace and Megan. That speaks so much to you and the family you have created. I loved so much about this piece. The fact that you have a 1 and a 6 candle saved in your cabinet…

    Liked by 1 person

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