How could I deny her a social outlet in a time when companionship had been taken from her? It would have felt monstrous. But let’s not sit here and pretend I let her do it just for her sake. I let her do it for mine, too.
Roblox had become a babysitter, a youth group and a camp all in one. I have come to think of it as a place she goes rather than a thing she does. She can happily spend hours there and I hear nothing but screeches of “Teleport! Teleport to me!!” I wouldn’t say I get great work done while she plays, but I get *some* work done. Or some housework. Or some dispirited doomscrolling.
I knew, abstractly, that there would come a time when I lost the child I knew. That my baby would become an adolescent, a gawky thing full of spite she could use as rocket fuel to blast out of my orbit. But my daughter is on the cusp of turning 8. I thought I had more time, and I never thought the fuel she burned would be supplied by me.
Because I see her stepping into a new world, trying on new personae, different avatars. I see her deftly navigating a space in which I am all thumbs. When I tried to play, she typed in the chat bar: “Mom. Mom! Follow me, Mom! My mom is so bad at this and I’m trying to teach her but she is an amazing mom.”
I appreciated the softening of the blow, but the truth is I am not an amazing mom. I let her move to a two-dimensional arcade because, in the depths of my torpor and sorrow this summer, I could barely string two words together, let alone get it up for a fun mother-daughter project
Generally speaking, it sets my teeth on edge when parents (ugh, mothers, I mean mothers, it is always mothers) describe themselves as failing as parents, as though this were a competition or a job for which we might be awarded a gold star. But I found myself truly understanding that I wasn’t so much failing at the task of parenting as I was failing her.
As we move forward into school time (a fraught and indefinite phrase), things are going to have to change around here. I have felt, this summer, like a woman drowning in Karo syrup. Sure, I’m depressed, aren’t we all? But I can’t pull her back into the real world if I can’t even get there myself.