Thursday, September 13, 2012
Yes, it's true I put you in a mini skirt and leggings for your baby shower before you were a month old.
It's true I handmade the tutu you wore in your 18 month photo shoot.
For every cardigan, scarf, and layering tank I bought myself, I bought you three of each.
For nearly five years, you've been my favorite hobby.
Then out of nowhere, you developed your own sense of style and urgency when it came to how you
dressed, styled your hair, and wore your life. The audacity.
It's a hard thing to die to, the power shift between a power-hungry mother and her only child. I was not ready, am not ready, to let that phase go. I spent last weekend bridal dress shopping with your future Auntie T., and her mother still had opinions on her visions of her firstborn these 25 years later. That's women, I suppose.
I sniffle and wring my hands when in reality, my heart is bursting with pride at your assumed confidence and utterly amazing sense of style.
I absolutely take credit for your four-foot fashion. You're damn right I do.
Every morning when I see my laid out, intended outfit on your chair covered by what you actually picked out after lights out, I sorta smile. My stubborn little mule. My Tiny Tyra Banks. I love it.
Ask your Grandma G., your Great-Grandma S. or any of your aunties- I've always pushed the envelope when it comes to style and self-expression. Many, many holiday mornings I would wake up and hear my own Mama say, 'that's what you're wearing? Your Grandmother will have a fit,' when in reality I knew she'd hug me all the same. I never, ever had fear of not being accepted within my family or village. That, my dear, is an awesome way to grow up. I intend to let you grow up the same exact way.
Last week, before school started you said you wanted feathers in your hair, and asked if I would get some, too. Absolutely, sign me up. I called 17 salons before I found one who still offered the service. And even she told me they no longer were in style. Away we went, you with hot pink and Mama with white and gray. Damned be the trend or lack thereof.
One night this week, Daddy asked you what your friends thought of your feathery flair. You shrugged nonchalantly, saying boys had made fun of it and followed you around saying your feathers were stupid.
Those little @&$!#+[.
That was my honest reaction. Adolescent, no doubt but that was the Mama bear in me. I wanted their names so I could point out their lame VELCO shoes, cowlicky hair, and too-short too-faded carpenter jeans.
I asked you the next morning how you handled the criticism and you said you walked away and didn't listen to what they said.
And that right there, is called winning. Winning at childhood and winning at parenthood.
I have never, ever been prouder.
All I can hope for at this stage in the game is that you always remember to walk away and shut it out. Walk away from the criticism, the hate, the absolute jealousy.
Be your own you.
Pierce your face, listen to obscure music, add purple highlights, wear your Dad's flannels.
Push the envelope like it's your J-O-B because it is.
I have said it before and I'll say it again ... being a girl is hard.
But it kicks some crazy ass.
I found this gem along the way, and choose now to share it with my favorite human.
I'll apologize for the swear words.
Good thing you can't spell yet.
I will always be your biggest champion, and fiercest supporter. Your Dad will too. I swear on pink hair. I will give you one sage piece of advice- it's wiser to ask for forgiveness than permission. It's easier to say, 'I was thinking of getting a tattoo right here ... ' then lift your shirt and show your Mama the actual tattoo. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
But do not ever show up wearing Duke Blue Devil blue, anything hockey-related or with a new Mariah Carey album.
Because baby girl, we don't love you that much.
Monday, September 10, 2012
Today was your very last first day of preschool. Next year at this time, a scant year from now, you'll be my Mighty Kindergartner ... something you've dreamed of since you were at least three and a half.
You were so excited this morning - experiencing Open House meant you had the knowledge your classroom, teacher, and aide were the same from last year. You were in a mixed 3/4's last year; this year straight 4's with a few 5's sprinkled in. You're one of the oldest (and tallest!) in your class. I talked to an older man last week who asked me about my kids and if they were in school. I mentioned your December birthday and how anxious you were to ride the bus, and he took the time to mention how he and his wife waited to send their November-birthday son (now in his '30s) until he was five on the first day of school. He told me it was the best decision they ever made, and how they truly believed he had been on the fast-track and ahead of the curve his whole life since his days as an older kindergartner in that classroom. So, kill, Kid Rock. It's yours to rule.
I told you last night we could have breakfast at Starbucks as a treat before class this morning. When you woke up and got ready, you declared skipping breakfast and heading straight to school was your plan instead. How can I be raising a Starbucks skipper? But I get your (mild) anxiety and charged attitude for something new. We marched into school.
Now, please remember to stay polite. Because you've been there, done that before doesn't mean you get to run that town. You're still the pupil. Be patient with your friends, your new friends, and both teachers. Don't run to greet me at pickup; simply because it's against the law. Remember to take turn at the easels that you like to occupy too much, and don't hoard the rubber frogs, plastic fish, or stuffed dogs. Try all new snacks, keep paint, paint, painting, and raise your hand. Wish everyone a good morning and talk to everyone. You don't have to like them, but you have to be kind. As your buddy JW's Mama says, "Don't be an asshole," and I think that pretty much sums up my advice for your year in PreK.
I am proud of you, and rooting for you, and think you're the most crazy-awesome kid. Have fun.
Friday, September 7, 2012
Three months from today, she'll be five.
Usually, I'd be weeping in my soy macchiatos over this giant looming milestone- but this time? I am excited. Excited for a new number, a new year, a new new.
About this time a year ago, my own Mama and I were talking about December and all its planned glory. She casually mentioned age four was easily the hardest she experienced for both my brother and I. I scoffed at her horror stories, knowing in my heart of hearts, my precious baby girl would once again prove the universe wrong by being the best. She was a rockstar newborn; perfect toddler; and delightful three-year-old. Four? In the bag.
In three short months, we're setting fire to four and spreading its ashes all over five and 2013. That's about the summation I can muster as a mother of a current four-year-old.
She's wicked smart. Fiercely independent and focused. Logical to a fault, and as stubborn as a gray mule. She looks just like her Daddy and acts just like her Mama ... she's the perfect storm. She's sarcastic and sneaky, sassy and dramatic. She doesn't forget and won't forgive. She's self-righteous and indignant and brave and beautiful and doesn't listen for shit.
She's my everything- my little blond tornado who will smack her head against her wall at night if she's not tired or interested in sleep. She sashays instead of walking. She makes you earn the right to be spoken to, or answered. She's hilarious and witty with perfect comedic timing. She has that rubberface my Mama's side of the family always seems to have. She's competitive and calculating never without her accessories.
She's a girl, alright. She's as girl as girl gets. She's making me earn motherhood, I guess you could say, finally. I've sailed up until this year, full of love and sleep and without protest. I wouldn't have it any other way- I've always maintained I love learning new things and stepping outside my comfort zone. It's baptism by four fire, that's for sure. One day she loves mashed potatoes and the next she gags when she eats them ... she keeps me on my toes and off autopilot.
90 more days. Let it ride.
And oh yes, Mama loves. Without question ...
Saturday, September 1, 2012
“Be Kind for Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Great Battle.”–Plato
One of my favorite quotes because of its absolute truth. Humans are resilient and have a natural ability to shove whatever battle they fight underneath their very surface. You never know. So be kind. End of story.
I've bared my soul on this blog for over four years. I've admitted my fears- both logical and illogical. I've admitted I don't know what I am doing. I know having you in the first place was a gift I probably took for granted before I even had that positive pregnancy test. So these words and stories and experiences and humor and heartache have all been true. I'm about to write about one of the worst? hardest? humbling? experiences I've had as a mother yet.
There are fewer places more sacred to you than daycare. You've been a fulltimer since you were 10 weeks old. You love everything about it- the Daycare Lady and her children, and her ancient dog. You love all the other kids who have come and gone. You still talk incessantly about G., your little dude friend you made when you were five months old. You two are tight! You love the routine, safety, and reign of daycare and we do too. We struck gold with that place.
Yesterday, you got in trouble for misbehavior. Honestly, you're four and it happens more and more. I know you are emotional and stubborn and dramatic and sassy and an only child who struggles to share. As your mother, I can list your shortcomings in a paragraph. I love you, but you have your ... things that I don't love. That's humanity. I have things your Dad doesn't love, and vise-versa. Doesn't make us less of people, and we try to not let those particular characteristics define us.
But yesterday's misbehavior was new for you. We were actually mean to one of your friends. Intentionally, unrelenting mean. I won't go into specifics because they don't matter. You were mean. You upset your friend, made her cry, upset your Daycare Lady and your parents. My eyes burn still, as I write this. I was stoic at pickup yesterday, calm. I drove you home, music louder than necessary. I was calm on the outside while a storm brewed on the inside. I didn't know what to do with you- because this incident was one of the biggest our family had faced yet and I didn't want to mess up how I handled it. I called you emotional and stubborn and dramatic; where do you think you got those genes? I didn't want to say or do something to you I would regret. So as you wailed all the way home, the gravity of what you were about to face (telling your Dad; every girl's worst nightmare, and not doing anything fun that night) sinking in. When we got home, I simply sent you to your room.
For two hours.
Sounds harsh. It probably was. But- you were in the comfort of your room with 456 toys, books, outfits to try on, your radio, NaNa, and big bed. You weren't struggling for survival.
I waited for the Dad to get home by doing the thing I do when I am anxious- cleaning. I clean or bake when I need something to do with my mind and hands. Music loud, mind racing, I tried to get a grip on my brain and heart. When Daddy walked in the entryway, I greeted him by bursting into tears.
Emotional. Told you.
I tearfully recounted what happened in your day. How you acted. How you might have earned a tiny stigma of being a mean kid. That is my greatest fear, that somehow lil' dude, you'll walk out of this house thinking you're better than anyone else and treating others just like you believe it. I kept wiping my eyes saying how surprised everyone was- your friend, her parents (I assume), Daycare Lady, us. I never imagined getting that report on you.
Daddy spent his time with you behind closed doors- being calm, big-hearted, and rational as he always is. I just know that 15 minutes later you came out still crying as you apologized to me. Sobbing, you said you were sorry and knew why it was wrong. You vowed to make your friend some mail to apologize and reiterated what Daddy asked you ... would you ever want to be treated that way? The answer is no, every single time. No.
You and I have had discussions at parks, diners, and Target as you witnessed firsthand the different ways people can be. Yes, people wear robes and capes and turbans. Yes, people are in wheelchairs, walk with canes, and talk with their hands. Yes, boys wear makeup and girls shaved heads. Anything goes in this grand world, and your only role in it is to be respectful. As your preschool teacher told you all year, you don't have to be friends with everyone. Just kind and respectful.
The greatest battle there is.