I am staring at a black lamb. You can’t look at those things and not think about the saying. Black sheep – you are as beautiful as your white brothers and sisters. You are more beautiful in fact. You’ve just been tagged with bad publicity.
Writing has been my way of trying to understand relationships. There is no one as intense in this experience as Lulu. Lulu, almost fourteen-years old, is demanding by nature. She sucks the air out of the room. It’s both a good thing and a bad thing, but I think at its core is that this kid just uniquely gets herself into pickles. I know no one else who has more natural drama by just living through their day. To be honest, it drives me slightly crazy.
A few weeks ago, when a head teacher from Lulu’s school called me, she told me that Lulu had helped to spread a rumour about drugs. I scratched my head. Afterwards, Lulu filled me in. She explained that her friend had told her that she had weed in her bag. Her friend had bought it from someone else in their class. Lu was a little mad at this friend and admitted that’s why she spread the rumour – but the other girl was really mad and went to the teacher. Mean Girls here we come.
Lulu wasn’t expecting this. She watched her friend get carted out of maths class to the headteacher. She started to panic. She was mad at her friend, she reasoned, but she didn’t want her words to end their friendship either. So Lulu got herself out of maths class by saying she was going to the toilet, then went straight to reception and filled out a form saying the drugs were actually hers. Yes, hers. Now, Lulu is so anti-drugs that when her friend asked her the day before if she’d still be friends with someone smoking weed, Lu said no, she wouldn’t. That’s what had caused the rift between them.
‘You can’t stop being friends with somebody because they’re using drugs,’ her friend had said.
Lulu said, ‘Well, I can.’
So, the likelihood of the weed being hers is one such example of a Lulu-style pickle.
‘Did the teacher believe you?’ I asked.
‘No.’ Lulu smiled. ‘But I’m still friends with the girl.’
Then, last night she came home with her neck covered by love bites. Yes – love bites or hickeys – different words, same thing. She’d spent a couple of hours with her boyfriend on Saturday and now looked like she had a red, impressionist painting going down her neck. Good times.
We sat with Lulu and carefully explained that’s just not cool. That we’re not going to let her hang out with her boyfriend who, by the way, sounds very nice, if she comes home looking like she’s been attacked.
‘It’s my job,’ I said, ‘to protect you. When I see your neck, I don’t feel like I am protecting you. I’m not doing my job properly.’
Later she came up to us and said that she and her boyfriend had decided they weren’t going to do it again. Then she began began to weep inexplicably all evening. I don’t know why. My mum would say it’s because she’s a hormonal teenager. She might be right. We just hugged her and hugged her some more. There were no words at this point – only encouragement. The truth is I’d like to be able to control her. I’d live my life through her. Man, this time it would be good.
My words shoot me down though. And I’m guilty.