Me and my mini-me

By Mir
January 10, 2008

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.


  1. Flea

    You’re such a good mama. And Chickie is SO PMSing. My daughter started PMSing at about 9. Ride the wave, Mir. Ride the wave.

  2. MomCat

    You and Chickie are in good company with each other. Even if you do drive each other nuts sometimes, those quiet moments of perfect understanding make it so worthwhile.

  3. cce

    I hope that I have the patience and the self-awareness you have when my kids get to Chickadee’s age and, by the way, I was the girl “that hid my puberty in my backpack under a stack of dead frogs.” Thanks for the laugh and the poignant glimmer today!

  4. Megan

    I think I irritate my mini-me more than It irritates me – because I always KNOW. Didn’t do your homework when you said you had? Oh baby, I know. Told me you cleaned your room when you really meant you’d shoved everything into the closet so it will topple out on the unsuspecting person who opens it yet? Better believe I know. Sometimes want to just pound your fists and scream at your annoying, unsympathetic mother who LAUGHS at you when you don’t want to be laughed at because you’re SERIOUS and it’s not FUNNY? Yeah honey, I know that too. But you know what? That child – actually likes that I know. Just like Chickie. Poor lass.

  5. Birchsprite

    It all sounds so familar. I think I was a Chickie too!

  6. Sara

    Wouldn’t it be great if we could go out and get some puberty? Because that would mean we would have the option of RETURNING IT!! (PleasepleasePLEASE can I return it now?) I am not ready for it, but puberty (that bitch) has made herself good and comfortable here and tells me not only does she have a firm hold on my daughter, she’s stalking my son as well.

  7. RuthWells

    My oldest boy-child has been getting his puberty for several months now. It is very disconcerting, as he still believes in Santa Claus (he is 11 years old). Do not want!!

  8. BOSSY

    ah, the continuum.

  9. kidzmama

    The only thing my nine year old and me have in common is that we’re both girls. She’s all daddy! But, I did get her the book “The Care & Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls”. It’s an excellent book when you want to go out and get some puberty!

  10. Contrary

    I’m about to turn 39 and I’m still getting my puberty.

    I haven’t thrown my brush in a while, but I still throw other things. The only big difference between now and when I was younger is that I no longer aim for the heads of other people.

    I had deadly aim, though.

  11. D

    I’ll always remember when a friend said “Ah, terrible twos are when the space aliens kidnap your child and replace it with a look-alike and then return your nice sweet child after a year or two.” When he kids started getting puberty [I wondered if there was a store too, btw] she asked her kids if the space ride had been good and wondered why this time the space aliens had left morphing figures in her house for a MUCH longer period of time. The kids didn’t get it until they had kids of their own … now they do. :-)

  12. janet

    um… i have been reading you (kinda lurkishly) for a long time. sometimes i comment. most times i don’t because … well … you’re MIR, and i’m just lowly me.

    But today, you have written the story of the roo-girl and me. she is now 13, and this is STILL our life together, up to and including the hair and the tales of my childhood used to diffuse.

    that is an excellent technique, mir. i use it often, and it unlocks many secrets hiding in roo’s heart.

    i know you treasure your mini-me the same way i do mine.

    (sorry, i feel like i highjacked your comments section today. but you really touched my heart with this one.)

  13. Headless Mom

    Beautiful, Mir. My girl is 17 and about to graduate and your post brought tears to my eyes. She said just last night at the dinner table “Why are you always right, Mom? I guess it’s because you’ve been there.”

    Wait, not just tears coming, but rivers out of my eyes. She’s going to college in 8 short months. I’m not sure I’m ready. So pretty Mir-keep those moments, no matter how frustrating!, very close. They will be gone in an instant.

  14. Rachel May

    You’re a fantastic Mama, Mir…. but I think this just makes me want another boy even more than I already do. :)

  15. Julie Stiles Mills

    You’ve discovered a few secret ingredients always present in a wonderful mother/daughter relationship: Your acceptance and understanding of her even when she’s not being reasonable and your vulnerability when she feels “less.” These surely aren’t the only ingredients, but janet was on the money when she used the word “diffuse.” When we can diffuse the tension, it changes our family’s entire day! Unfortunately, some days, we need to diffuse hourly. It’s always worth it. You made a precious memory today. Of course, my comment here totally contradicts what I posted yesterday on my own blog. :)

  16. All Adither

    The Hair Tirades. Yes, I remember well. In fact, I’m still throwing brushing, walloping flat irons, pumping shine serum down the drain.

    I’m mostly kidding. Every time I get furious at my hair, I try to think of what it would be like to have none at all. And I’m suddenly grateful for my stupid frizz.

  17. andi

    This is off topic but I thought you’d enjoy it anyway:
    It’s an edible flying spaghetti monster!

  18. Jennifer

    This type of story scares the pants off of me. I think I need a drink, my daughter may only be 8 months old, but one day she’ll be just like this. *runs away screaming*

  19. jennielynn

    I can just promise you that in a few years, the friendship that will bloom between you will be all the more precious for your current struggles. The pain is more than worth the gain. And I definitely know about this.

  20. dad

    A few random thoughts provoked by your post:
    I’m ready to receive delivery of my pony.
    If you think Chickadee is funny now, wait until she gets her puberty. Now that’s hilarious.
    Monkey has a lot in common with his grandfather. What a guy!

  21. danelle

    One as a kid I threw a brush at the bathroom mirror cause I was so mad at my hair, and I broke the mirror. My mother has left it up and broken to this day to remind me of what a bad temper can do – and I’m FORTY FIVE YEARS OLD!

  22. Daisy

    Now that my daughter is (kind of) grown up at a rapidly aging 21, we enjoy each other quite a bit. I hope you enjoy that kind of comraderie (or co-misery?) when Chickie grows up.

  23. The Over-Thinker

    I can’t wait to have kids :-) Although I’m pretty sure I’ll institute weekly head shavings if I have a girl.

  24. David

    I’m sure I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: Your dad is a riot, and you clearly inherited his sense of humor. = )

  25. Cele

    I’m sorry but you’re dad waiting for the pony just cracks me up. Poor man. poor, poor man.

    I hated those bumps too, I still do, hate them hate themhatethem.

  26. mama speak


    Being a curly girl who was a teenager in the 80s I can so relate with what was going down with you two. Only my mom had no patience or understanding for me on this subject. She’d yell at me for the brush throwing or crying or whatever. Only very recently have I come to terms, more or less, with my hair. (Basically I finally hit the point where I gave up.) Both my girls seem to have hair like me. My hair didn’t get curly until puberty (it started out w/curls as a baby, but was then perfect waves as it grew out until 13.) My oldest has the perfect waves right now, it’s beautiful. The youngest has ringlets, much like my current do. I know that when they have issues w/their appearence I will not do what my mom did to me. I only hope that I will handle them so well as you just did. Thank you so much for sharing that moment with us. I KNOW it will call on it some day to help difuse a similar situation and if I’m lucky, I’ll turn it into a special moment for us both. Like you just did.

  27. MaryP

    In our house, we’ve gotten our puberty and we’ve almost gotten our menopause AT THE VERY SAME TIME!! Hormones so thick you can cut ’em with a knife. (Except that we try to stay away from sharp objects when the hormones are thickest.) Which is as good an argument against waiting till your mid-thirties to have a child as any I can think of.

  28. Julie Stiles Mills

    I’m not sure about girls, but I think I figured out something to help with boys. My son has to be physically active EVERY DAY. Till he sweats. Any sport, any physical labor, any physically demanding activity. Somehow, it prevents the buildup of testosterone or something. Whenever he becomes irritable or sarcastic, I don’t even go there with him. I immediately get him to do something physically active. Sometime it’s yard work, sometimes it’s just basketball – anything. So far, it’s working for me. I’ve told a few friends about it and they say it works for them too.

  29. prophet

    what an education. . . . thanks for letting me read over your shoulder!

  30. Amy-Go

    My mini-me is MALE. What am I supposed to do with THAT?

  31. Niki

    I have two of these – so different from each other, but both like me at their ages. It’s frightening when I can read them so, and it helps with the little one, but the big one can’t stand it when I “know”. We’ve finished most of the “getting my puberty” angst with #1, who was a late bloomer, but we’re completely into it already with #2, who I’m afraid may be earlier than her sister.

    And I so get it about them being unreasonable, and not getting that they’re being unreasonable, but it drives hubby nuts!

  32. Aimers

    adorable blog!!!!! great mommy antics!! love it!!!!

  33. mamalang

    The middle one is my “mini-me”, and oh, the horror of it all. I offered to paint her nails the other day and it totally sent her over the edge…basically I decided to do it too late, several had already broken, what did it matter anyway. Yes…I see me, and it makes it even harder to deal with. Good luck. Pre-Pubescent angst is much worse than when they actually hit that stage.

  34. Barb

    I think the best investment we accidentally made towards a good mother-daughter relationship is the double-headed shower in our master bathroom. My daughter and I get ready for school at the same time every day (showering together), and that shower has been the setting of many, many talks like the one between you and Chickadee. Because of that, The Girl feels comfortable asking me ANYTHING, and while it is a little scary at times, I do love it. (And yes, I was hugely freaked out about letting her see my body when we moved into this house and started this habit, but I made up my mind that my daughter was not going to grow up ashamed of her body (like I was) so I sucked up my discomfort, and she has benefited.) Thanks for letting me write this here; it feels good to write it, but I don’t think she’d appreciate me posting it on my BLOG! Keep up the great Mommying!

  35. sumo

    Very sweet. I would be so ill equipped to handle a daughter.

    “…she takes a joke too far, and it stops being funny, and she doesn’t realize it’s time to LET IT GO” – at least she has a future career writing for Family Guy. Freakin’ sweet!

  36. Amy S.

    …hold on a sec…still wiping tears from my eyes. I LAUGHED, I CRIED. I’ve got two little girls — one mini-me and one so NOT mini-me. I can relate to this on every possible level.

    My mini-me doesn’t know how lucky she is to have a mom that can understand how she’s feeling, especially because most of the time it makes no sense to anyone else. Like how she’d rather DIE than be left anywhere unfamiliar without knowing a soul (i.e., a babysitting room full of strangers) or how she HAS to have everything EXACTLY her way and has almost NO ability to pretend she’s happy otherwise (like when she told me she LOVED the pink boots that we got her for Christmas, but that she’d really rather have the brown ones).

    My non-mini me (age 8) can’t wait to get her puberty so she can grow some BOOBS!!! Careful what you wish for…

    Thanks for this!

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