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Why Can’t You Understand?

Why Can’t You Understand?
Lilly Ane Birkeland Jakobsen

It is a mild day in December. The lawn outside the house is waterlogged and crawling with worms and insects desperately looking for refuge. The daughter (16) is sitting in the living room. The mother (39) enters. The daughter turns away from the TV screen for a moment and looks at her mother with vacant eyes. The mother looks in despair at her daughter. She sits down on a chair.

Mother: You don’t need to look at me like that.
The daughter rolls her eyes

Mother: We have talked about this several times. You ought to be grown up enough to understand that I am also doing this for you. What’s more, it’s a great opportunity for me.
Why can’t you understand?
Daughter: I don’t like it. You know that. Why do you have to do it when you know that I don’t like it?
Mother: Why are you being so egotistical?
Daughter: Me? Why am I being egotistical? You really are unbelievable.
Mother: Yes, you. I finally get a job offer, I can finally provide for us, and you won’t even speak to me. Can you really not understand?

The daughter gets up and moves towards the kitchen. The mother turns, observing her daughter, indicates that she wants her to stay in the room. The daughter stops, folds her arms and scowls at the mother.

Mother: This job is important for us. I am only just about managing to pay the bills. Honestly, if I don’t take this job, I don’t think we’ll be able to manage any more.

The mother puts her head in her hands. The daughter sits down beside her.

Daughter: You mustn’t talk like that.
Mother: But if I take this job, we could afford a lot more, more than just the bare necessities! Can’t you see that?
Daughter: So, you want to sacrifice lives so that we can get more stuff? You are the same as everyone else, you only think about yourself. You would really take a job at any cost? What about the environment? What about the green revolution?
Mother: The green revolution? Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous?
Daughter: How can you say that? They destroy and destroy and destroy, until there is nothing left of this earth of ours. Can’t you see that?
The mother is silent. Tears are streaming from the daughter’s eyes. She is now standing in the middle of the room, with hands bunched into fists. The mother gets up and looks at her.

Mother: If you can’t look at the situation through adult eyes, you’re not old enough to discuss it. We have to think of ourselves. I’m going to take the job.
The mother leaves the rooom. The daughter stands in the middle of the room, she is crying, her hands are still bunched into fists. She is shaking with anger.

Daughter: Why can’t you understand?

It is a mild December evening. The daughter (16) is standing in the living room. The mother (39) has left the room. The daughter looks in despair towards the door. She sits down on a chair.