Chick Wit | A daughter returns, and so does 'Bumpy'

Posted: July 08, 2007

Those of you who read my last column know that it was about my life as an empty-nester whose baby bird, my daughter, Francesca, is home from college for the summer. But there are two sides to every story. I thought it would be fun for you to hear her side, and so I wanted her to contribute to this column. I hope it will help my fellow parental units to see how our college-age kids (sorry, adults) see us. So, the following is from Francesca:

Now that I'm older, I imagined that living at home with my mother would be different. Not that it needed to change; we've always had the best relationship. I can honestly say that my mom is my best friend. But now that I'm 21, I figured our dynamic would be more mature.

Not exactly.

My childhood nickname was Kiki, and my mom always had hundreds of nonsensical pet names for me. The days of BooBoo, Baby Bumpy and Mocha JaMocha are over. Or so I thought.

We were in the shoe department, trying to be cool (we both inexplicably get dressed up to go to the mall) when my mom looked up from the sandals and said, "Hey, Bumpy! Look at these!" I resorted to the oh-so-teenage, "Mo-om." We totally blew our grown-up cover.

Back home, one change in our interaction wasn't due to my age, it was due to hers. She'd read that she should drink red wine for her heart, so one night, she poured herself a glass and offered me one, too.

This alone was a big step. My mother doesn't drink, and when I was younger, she decried the perils of alcohol with Prohibition-era ferocity. So, as she poured me a glass of wine, I felt as if we had turned a corner in our new, mature relationship.

I made sure to not drink more than one glass, but I wasn't the one who had to be worried. After just a few sips, she started up: "Oh, I feel it. I can feel it already. Can you feel it?" she asked, excitedly. And before my mom had even finished the glass, she was triumphantly declaring, "I'm drunk!" like a frat boy. My mom's night of boozing (still only one glass) quickly turned sour. She complained the whole night: "Ugh, I have a headache from that wine. I'm sleepy from that wine. I can't sleep from that wine." She required more post-party care than my freshman-year roommate.    

Jeez, Mom, grow up.

But then, I'm not exactly the sophisticate I thought I'd be when it comes to hanging out with Mom. I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm still embarrassed by my mother. When are you supposed to grow out of that? I'll let you in on a secret: The real reason I wanted to see the 10:30 show of Ocean's Thirteen was that the theater would be less crowded, and it was unlikely that someone I knew would catch me out on date night with Mom. As it happened, I did run into an old friend from high school who was there on an actual date. Busted.

But it's not just at the movies. Last week she gave me a ride to my doctor's appointment. I had a wart on my toe removed and also got the HPV vaccine, Gardasil. As we were checking out, my mom was being her usual friendly self, updating the receptionist on my life. It used to bother me when she talked about me like I wasn't there, but I'm above that now. What could she say?

"Today she got that Gardasil shot and got rid of those nasty warts!" Mom chirped. I cringed.

My mother has a way with words.

But truly, I'm lucky that I feel so close to my mom. We can talk about anything - even sex. In fact, it was her idea for me to get the HPV vaccine.

We've come a long way. When my mom was moving me out of my freshman-year dorm, I was mortified that she found condoms in my nightstand. If that happened this year, it wouldn't matter. I'm old enough to know what's in a woman's nightstand is her business.

That's why I'm never, ever, looking in hers.

I'm not old enough.

Right, kid, now go empty the dishwasher.

What Francesca doesn't realize is that she'll always be my baby, no matter what age. But I have to admit, she's grown into an incredible young woman who is everything I hoped she would be: smart, strong, funny, and loving. As you can see, she does tell the truth.

And now, she's grounded.

Francesca Serritella is a rising senior at Harvard University, majoring in English.

Lisa Scottoline is a best-selling author, most recently of "Daddy's Girl." She can be reached at

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