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A Toast to Mothers & Daughters, 12.07.00 ...

After a meal with a group of friends last month, the women all drifted into the kitchen, where we stood around the counter, sipping coffee and talking. The topic of conversation was our teen-age daughters.

Each woman was feeling frustrated. While we all knew that our daughters were thriving and were well-liked by friends and teachers, they so frequently seemed incapable of having a civil conversation with us. "I'll do it when I can." Slam. "Nobody does it like that." Eye roll.

We knew their I'll-do-it-myself attitude was part of the process of becoming independent, and we tried to take it lightly, but sometimes we all overreacted.

So when TV critics began praising a show called Gilmore Girls about a mother and her teen-age daughter, saying its portrayal of their relationship was both positive and realistic, I thought it might be therapeutic for the mother/daughter pair in our household to tune in.

The show started off as typical TV fodder, with impossibly beautiful women uttering impossibly clever things. Not how our lives work. But as the story progressed, the Gilmore girls' lives developed in ways that hit rather remarkably close to home. The story, centered on mom Lorelai's efforts to get daughter Rory into the good school she wants to attend was uncannily similar to the current principal theme of our relationship. I saw my daughter's pupils swell in recognition at Rory's absorption in a book. Rory's sarcastic "Thank you for knocking," when her mother invaded her bedroom, rang familiar to my ears - as did Rory's general sweetness.

The end of the show brought a TV-land resolution to the conflict, and the final scene showed mother and daughter in congenial conversation over two large cups of coffee. I could very much relate. Perhaps because coffee is considered a grown-ups' drink, I've always found a shared cup of coffee with its subtle nod to the teen's impending adulthood to be a bond-builder.

Talking in the kitchen with my friends a few weeks ago was good for all of us. I think it helped to be reminded that this trying stage is just exactly that - a stage we all live through. For me, it was also a nice reminder of just how lovely my daughter really is.

I'm thinking of telling her we should - no, make that asking her if she'd like to - make Gilmore Girls a weekly feature of our lives. I could see the world from her perspective a bit, she could see it from mine. If nothing else, it would be an hour out of two very hectic lives spent together.

I know I'd enjoy it. I could make coffee.

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