"Everyday it's the same routine. She comes in from school and snatches a bag of chips; I tell her not to ruin her dinner, and she slams her bedroom door. I don't know what to do with her anymore."

I've gotten to the point now that I scold myself for snacking before she can. Why does she think she has to repeat herself?

"I don't know what else a single mother can do. It's always been just the two of us. She used to love spending time with me."

If I didn't do what she said the first time, why would I do it the ninetieth time?

"I remember when she was four we made a camp site in the living room. I pretended like I was going out for firewood and came back with S'mores. She pulled the gooey marshmallow out of the middle and licked it off her fingers."

It didn't always used to be this way. She was such a fun Mom growing up.

"Then when she started school, we would stay up late on the weekends, talking and playing games. Sometimes we'd even work one of those thousand piece puzzles. That was once she got a little older, of course. She loved puzzles. Her favorite one was of a deer in a field of clover."

I used to be able to tell her anything. Now I feel like the only way I can talk is with pen and paper.

"I remember the day she brought you home. How filthy you were. You got us all wet when we bathed you. Soap suds everywhere. But now look at you, sitting collared and fluffy at my feet."

I can't even talk to Jasper anymore!

I just want my dinner.

"She was in middle school then, found you on the walk home. Four years later, she's a sophomore in high school and won't talk to either of us."

I don't know why I can't talk to anyone. It's not like there's anything really wrong in my life.

"She must be going through a rough time. High school was rough for me, too."

Please feed me.

I mean, my classes are going okay. I have that one "C" in Algebra, but that's nothing new.

"I never did fit in, but I had a few friends. We used to go to Gerdie's Snack Shack after school and get a Coke."

I have Carrie and LaShonda, my two best friends in the world. We still go hang out on Fridays.

Woman, food, now.

"Maybe that's what's wrong with her. She doesn't fit in. It's not that she isn't pretty, but she will never be Homecoming Queen, and she knows that."

I can't even tell them what's wrong.

"I went today to talk to her school counselor. He said that it was just normal teenage behavior."

Open the can.

"I tried to explain to him that this isn't normal for her."

I want to tell Mom I don't hate her, that it's not her fault I'm like this. But every time I try, it comes out like some horrible statement I never wanted to say.

"'Just normal teenage behavior,' he said. He doesn't know my Shelly at all."

Something like "I hate peas." That what comes out when I try to say "I don't hate you, Mom."

I have claws. Don't make me use them.

I've even tried writing her a letter, but I couldn't give it to her. I felt so dumb.

"I know something's wrong, but I guess all I can do is just give her the space she wants."

All I can do is lay my journal out on my bed hoping she'll read it.

"She keeps that journal on her bed, but I won't read it. I know she'll tell me when she's ready."

Pour the gravy.

"So in the meantime, I guess it's just you and me."

And know that I don't hate her.