It’s very interesting, spawning a tiny little clone of yourself. You’d THINK that doing so would render you uniquely able to meet your child’s every need, but you’d only think that IF YOU WERE ON CRACK. The reality, of course, that there is little in the universe more annoying that being confronted with a mirror of all your most annoying attributes, and if you knew how to deal with them, YOU WOULDN’T BE LIKE THAT.
And now you know how it is for me and Chickadee. On the bright side—funny! Oh my LORD, she is SO funny, and she keeps me laughing. On the not-so-bright side—doesn’t know when to stop! Just like me, sometimes she takes a joke too far, and it stops being funny, and she (I) doesn’t realize it’s time to LET IT GO. On the downright annoying side—mood swings! Dealing with her makes me want to give everyone who’s ever dealt with me on a daily basis a pony for putting up with me.
I think it’s safe to say that sometimes I do it exactly right with her, but a lot of the time I am just baffled.
This whole glasses thing, for example. I’m not going to pay a mint, but I do understand that this is important to her and she should get what she likes. Someone suggested to me that driving to five different optical places in the hunt for frames was excessive if we’d found ANYTHING that would work. Well, I don’t really mind. She’s going to wear them all day every day.
On the other hand, we’re at the point now where the only frames she really likes can only be found at the chi-chi optical place for $190. And, well, no. But I found them online for $90! Woooo! Okay, then.
The problem came when I had to find out her pupillary distance, which sounds dirty but really just has to do with how far apart her eyes are. I called our old optical place in New England and the optician started YELLING AT ME when I told him I was going to order Chickadee some glasses online. That was definitely one of those “the things I do for you, ungrateful child” moments….
Regardless, the glasses are ordered. I’m sure they’ll be just what she wanted. No matter; she’ll manage to find something else to be angry with me about.
Yesterday in the car Chickadee told me that “something happened” with her two best chums, one female and one male. She giggled and ducked her head, and—intrigued—I asked her to tell me what it was. She continued on to say that Boy had asked Girl if she’d gotten her… her… she couldn’t remember the word. But it was “ONE OF THOSE GROWN-UP THINGS, MOM” and so my mind tried to fill in the blanks.
“Period?” I offered.
“No, like that, but not that.” Her face was turning red and she couldn’t stop laughing.
“Monthly visitor? Little friend?”
She gasped. “MOM! He didn’t ask if she’d had a BABY!”
Here we paused while I explained that the “little friend” in question was not a baby. Sheesh.
“Aunt Flo?” I continued. Hey, why not teach her all the lingo at once, right?
“BOOBS!” suggested Monkey. He’s a giver, that one. Also a future boob-man.
“No, no no no,” she lamented, frustrated that she couldn’t remember. “But it was BAD, Mom! Girl got all mad, and she was wearing a mood necklace, and it turned BLACK! I think it started with a P.”
“Puberty?” I guessed.
“Yes!” she shouted, clearly relieved. “He asked her if she’d gotten her puberty yet! SHE WAS SO MAD!”
A dozen responses flashed through my mind. “Hey, could you go to the store? We need some milk, a pound of butter, and some puberty.” Or “Hey, could you go grab the mail? I want to see if my puberty is here yet!” And these sorts of rejoinders were totally apart from my FIRST thought, which was that both Chickadee and her girlfriend are perhaps the smallest, flattest girls in their class. Plus, Girl is just about the most consummate tomboy I’ve ever met. If Girl had “gotten her puberty” my guess is that she’s probably hiding it in her backpack under a stack of dead frogs.
Instead, I took the high road. “Um, Chickadee? I’m sure Boy asked that to irritate Girl, but it’s not like he asked her something NAUGHTY. Dorky, maybe. But it wasn’t obscene or anything.”
She was unconvinced.
I couldn’t resist adding, “Chickie, when you and Girl hit puberty, trust me—Boy will know.”
I had to endure her outraged squeals of disgust for the rest of the drive.
This morning I found Chickadee wailing in frustration in the bathroom. She was trying to put her hair up in ponytails and having trouble, so I offered to help. As I so often do, though, I only made matters worse; I was doing it wrong! She wanted them out to the sides, but more to the back, but not like THAT! I stayed uncharacteristically calm and did manage to avoid a major skirmish, and eventually she settled down and let me braid it for her, instead.
Her reaction was WAY out of proportion with the situation at hand, but for once, I understood.
Every stroke of the brush caused her to wince and she was still gulping sobs as I quietly smoothed her hair, told her to breathe; it’s okay, we have plenty of time, I’ll fix it.
And then, for the first time, I found myself telling her about when I was her age and my hair used to regularly drive me into a rage. I would stand in the bathroom and SCREAM in frustration as my curls defied my efforts and the brush snagged in my mop. I would labor over a ponytail only to end up with lumpy bumps along the top of my head (she can’t stand it when that happens, and neither could I, as a kid), and more than once I hurled my brush across the room.
“Don’t YOU do that, though,” I hastened to add.
She nodded and swiped at her nose with a tissue. “Did you really do that, Mama? Or are you just saying that to make me feel better?”
“I really did that,” I told her, dropping a kiss on top of her now-braided hair. “And I am telling you so that you understand that it’s genetic, and you more or less outgrow it. I hardly ever throw my brush, anymore.” I gave her another kiss as I headed to the counter to make lunches, and as she turned her attention to her bowl of oatmeal I swear I saw the corners of her mouth twitch upwards just a touch.