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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Treasured Memories

I recently introduced Dear Daughter to Beezus and Ramona, one of my favorite childhood novels. We reached the end last night, in which Beezus is relieved and fascinated to learn that her mother and Aunt Beatrice had a tenuous relationship as children but are now great friends as grown ups and can even laugh about the rotten things the younger Beatrice did to her older sister during their childhood.

As I turned out the light to tuck Daughter in, I commented that one day she and her little brother would be great friends and would laugh at some of the things that he does to antagonize her now. Dear Daughter quickly said, "Yeah! And there are already some memories of Zachy that I treasure!" I giggled at my just-turned-seven year old for her word choice of "treasure" and then I said, "Really? Like what?" There was a really looooooong silence and some crickets chirping in the darkness. I finally asked, "What's the matter? Can't you think of anything?" To which she meekly replied, "No."

So the offenses are apparently still rather raw for her, but I'm holding out hope that twenty more years might heal the wounds.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

No Frills

Perhaps I should blame myself for Dear Daughter's slob-ness. After all, I have never been the pink frilly type. Unlike many proud pregnant parents-to-be who are thrilled to be bringing a little baby girl into the world, we did not paint the nursery pink and buy every girly ruffle and fluff we could find. No, I painted the nursery green and didn't buy a single pink item.

Oh, we were excited to be having a girl, and there was no doubt about that. After all, the odds were stacked against us. Historically, the sperm on the husband's side of the family are gender-biased towards boys. I had resolved myself that despite our crazy attempts to conceive during the window of time that science has suggested improves the odds of a girl, we were likely to bring a boy into the world. Dear Husband's brother had managed to sire three boys already and a fourth boy would come later.

The ultrasound technician seemed to have no question whatsoever. It was a girl. I was beside myself giddy over this concept. A baby girl: my dream come true.

Despite my "never buy a pink frilly thing" attitude, there were many in the family that doted on my baby girl with frilly stuff. Who can blame them? They had been repressed, after all, with no girls to go ga-ga over. I was the one to hesitate to dress Dear Daughter in skirts and gowns and such, especially in the toddler stage. They just seemed so impractical--difficult to play in or even walk in sometimes. I must admit, however, that I adored the matching hats, shoes, and bags that came with some of these outfits. I can still remember my little diva, at two years of age, grabbing her hat and matching purse (and often matching sunglasses, thanks to Great Aunt Pat) each time we were heading out of the house. She was the first to the door, and looking over her shoulder with a grin and eager anticipation, she would say, "Let's go!"

To this day, my little girl, who turned seven just 10 days ago, still loves to dress up. She pleads with me to buy her fancy dresses in the stores and loves to look all pretty. I indulge her at times with the fancy dresses and shoes, but it always seems so ironic. The truth of this matter is that my girl-child is...a slob!

Before you start tsk-ing me, let me defend my statements! While we chose "Grace" for the middle name of this treasured little girl, she is generally about as clumsy as a child could be. She trips over flat surfaces and imaginary cracks in the ground. She spontaneously falls off her chair or out of bed. She lands on her head when she falls off her bike.

Even though Dear Daughter is a full 28 months (that's a full two years and four months) older than Dear Son, it is Daughter's chair that is surrounded by food and stains after a meal and not Son's. And it's Daughter whose clothing is full of stains and not Son's. It's Daughter's pants that have ripped holes and grass stains, and not Son's.

She wants to be a princess, and in her heart she is. But bless that same little heart if in reality she is so much less than polished! She would go days without brushing her hair if I didn't remind her. She nearly always has food or ketchup stuck to her face, and sometimes in her hair. Her clothing, as I previously described, is always stained or ripped. She doesn't bother to check herself to see that her clothing hangs straight or gets tucked in neatly, so it is usually hanging this way or that and crumpled and crooked. She is a nose picker no matter how much I nag her to use a tissue. She forgets to sit "ladylike" when she does wear a dress. And she apparently doesn't even notice when her feet smell so bad that she can clear a room. If it's pointed out to her, she just giggles and thinks it's really funny. She also thinks it's funny to belch and fart like a sailor. I console myself that if nothing changes, at least we won't have to worry about beating the boys off of her in a few years.

But oh how she longs to be princess-y.

Recently the daughter of a good friend of ours got married and asked Dear Daughter to be her flower girl. Dear Daughter couldn't have been more pleased about this whole thing. She got to pick out a gorgeous floor length gown and get all primped and prettied up and carry a lovely white satin basket and sprinkle flower petals. What more could any little girl want? She was on cloud nine, and she ended up pulling it off well. It was an outdoor wedding, and I was nervous for many reasons. The most obvious concern was that she would be wearing a white dress. Somehow, somewhere I was sure she would come up with some grape juice and spill it down the front of her dress before the ceremony. She had to walk down several yards of stairs in her floor length gown as she sprinkled flower petals. My girl, who trips on a flat surface. Also, being an outdoor wedding, there was mud and dirt and grass to attract her. They wanted her hair done and dressed for pictures by 3:00 even though the ceremony didn't start until 7:00. So I hovered around her constantly for those four hours. We made it, with only a tiny stain that no one could notice. When Daughter had made her way down the stairs and the ceremony had begun, Dear Husband leaned over and whispered in my ear, "Well, she's made it halfway through without tripping...." Indeed. It was a proud moment for her daddy and I.

With all that said, what happened today really should not be a surprise at all. Daughter has made mud pies before. Within reason, I just let her be. It was a hot, dry, day. I let her play in the sand and dirt and make a mud pie while I weeded the garden. I reasoned that it was not like that day that I let her stomp in the rain in her rain boots and next thing I knew she had mud sprayed to the top of her head and all across her face.

The neighbor boy had come over to play, and he is a good two and a half years older than my girl. We tend to supervise well when he comes over, for a variety of reasons that I won't describe at the moment. However, as the kids have gotten older, we've tended to relax just a bit on the eagle eye attention when they are all playing. I was busy hanging clothes on the clothesline and only aware that the kids, Daughter, Son, and the neighbor boy, were all playing well together in the backyard. Before I had brought the clothes outside I had noticed the sound of the outside water spigot being turned on and off. I wasn't concerned; it was really hot and I had previously told the kids they could play in the water. As I pinned the clothes to the line I heard the kids talking about being Oompah Loompah's and I still didn't pay too much attention. Then I heard more talk that made me realize that the kids were playing "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." I got curious now, and turned my attention to the backyard at what the kids were doing.

What I saw was a four foot mud puddle with shovels and molds and stuff buried in the mud and the neighbor boy with his hands buried up the elbows in mud, but not a bit of mud anywhere on his clothing. I'm still not sure how he did that. Dear Son had not a bit of mud on him at all. Apparently he was assigned to stand by the spigot and turn the water on and off on command. And then there was Daughter. She was muddy from head to toe. She had mud in her hair and across her face, on her shoulders and chest. Her legs and feet were covered, and she looked like she may very well have been rolling in it just like a little piggy. As usual, she was oblivious to her slob-ness. She acted like she didn't know what I was talking about when I exclaimed about the mud from head to toe. The neighbor boy had made a fast exit, stage left as I hosed Daughter down in the yard before she was even allowed in the house for a bath. She confirmed that they were playing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and didn't understand at all what the issue was with her four foot mud puddle, the shovels and toys and random objects planted in the mud hole, and the mud that caked her from head to toe. My boy child had ducked out stage right at the same time that the neighbor boy ducked out stage left. I've never seen kids scatter like cockroaches that quickly. I found Son inside the house, completely spotless without a bit of mud on his entire body, as his sister passed through the room on her way to the bathtub. Despite the hose down outside, she was still completely unrecognizable.

That's my girl.