Love’s a matter of perspective

By Mir
May 28, 2009

We went for a walk after dinner last night. Chickadee alternated inserting herself between me and Otto so that we couldn’t hold hands, grabbing one or the other of us from the outside and trying to pull us away from the other one, or marching up ahead in a variety of odd skips and flails. (Our very own personal Ministry of Silly Walks!)

I don’t know how the conversation started, but Chickie asked for an explanation of a situation we’d been chatting about, wherein a blended family was somewhat complicated by the fact that the eventual couple actually had a child together before either of them were divorced from their first spouses. It’s not really the sort of thing I thought I’d be explaining to my 11-year-old, but these things happen. And the problem, for me, is that the people in question have since been together for a very long time, and I felt like I needed to make it clear to my daughter that this is very much the exception to the rule.

“Just tuck this away for future reference,” I told her. “But this is something you need to learn NOW, before hormones take over and your brain rots.”

She laughed at me, turning to walk backwards, ahead of us, so that we could see her giggles and eyerolls as she rattled off her response. “Yes, Mom. I KNOW. ‘If a person cheats on someone else to be with you, chances are he’ll cheat on YOU to be with someone else. Trust is the foundation of a good relationship. A boy who breaks a girl’s trust once will probably do it again.'”

“That’s right,” I replied, hoping that despite her treating this all as a joke, something would sink in. “And the same is true for girls, too, honey. There is going to come a day when you have a boyfriend and you decide you like some other boy better, and maybe you’ll think it makes sense to just date that second boy behind the first boy’s back, but YOU WILL NOT DO THAT, because it’s dishonest and disrespectful. If your feelings change, well, that happens sometimes. But you will be HONEST and do the right thing.”

“I know!” she called back, skipping ahead.

“And if a boy cheats on you he’s not worth your time!” I added, for good measure. “No matter how much you think you love him!” She flapped an “I know, I know” hand in my general direction and kept on going. Otto chuckled and squeezed my hand.

I worry about this stuff. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I know my daughter’s heart, and I know I’m going to have to watch it break over the years, at different times and in different ways, and in my own clumsy way I’m trying to make sure she has the armor she needs. I know all too well how love (particularly of the puppy version) can cloud your vision, and if I can plant a seed that gives her even a glimmer of unclouded vision later, when she needs it, well, I guess that’s all I can do.

Lots of things in life are not as they seem, and our job is to find the right perspective.

* * * * *

In addition to our traditional garden plants, the current tally stands at six different dwarf fruit trees, as well. Only one of them—the dwarf lemon—currently has fruit. It came with fruit on it, which was a little weird. As it got over its root shock from replanting and the three lemons continued to sit on the stem, green and ungrowing, Otto commented more than once that he suspected they were plastic.

And then as Chickadee bounded up the deck steps, a few days ago, one of the lemons popped right off the plant. (If fell down between the steps, of course, and we had to go on a reconnaissance mission to find it.)

“I guess it was ready!” I said, brushing it off.

“How could it be?” she asked. “It’s too little!”

“Well, it IS a dwarf tree…” I mused. And then I had an idea. “This is a mighty lemon, Chickie. Wait and see.”

She didn’t seem convinced.

But we put Otto on the case. See? Totally mighty lemon, right here:

A little green, sure, but still. That’s pretty awesome, right?

Of course, there’s always that whole perspective thing….

That’s not an even particularly big tomato, there. That little lemon is about the size of an olive.

I rather enjoyed having a visual object-lesson to go with our recent discussions. I am totally whipping out these pictures the first time Chickadee’s done wrong, and I’ll be all “Do you get it now? HE’S THE LEMON!” and she’ll cry and wish she had a different mom, one who’s a little less weird.


Happy Love Thursday, everyone. Here’s to greater perspective in life, love, and even lemons.


  1. Megan

    Ah… there are so many discussions in our house that produce the chanted litany (two-forms-of-birth-control-I-KNOW-mum for example) and the hand flap. Still, I firmly believe that just maybe, faced with the real thing, there could be a glimmer of thought and a brief, wait, WHAT was it my Mum said all the time again? And that’s worth the eye rolls really.

  2. Katie in MA

    Or, you could reason that all the craziness and metaphors will help weed out those who are less-than-devoted to Chickie. Anyone who can withstand being called “Not-a-lemon” in front of the entire family just might deserve someone as special as Chickadee. :)

  3. Amy-Go

    I am so not ready for any of that! My gut reaction is “nobody better ever hurt my BAYBEE!” Perhaps Kevin is the better choice for having this conversation with my boys…

    Cute lemon, tho! ;)

  4. Aimee

    I lurve the little lemon! You could garnish a drink with the WHOLE lemon. How cool would that be?

  5. Tracy

    It is so weird how you tell stories of “my” life. My 27 year old son is going through the break-up of his lifetime to a girl that he was preparing to propose to. It breaks my heart because his heart is breaking but I keep telling myself that this is a “life” lesson he must learn and perhaps grow from. On the other hand, I’m thinking about calling her and begging her to come to her senses. I said, “thinking about” I haven’t actually done it. Yet.
    I guess no matter how old your babies are, they are always going to be your babies.

  6. Anna

    HA! Otto does good work, I never would have guessed it was quite THAT tiny of a lemon.

  7. Crista

    I totally spit coffee when I scrolled down for the “perspective” picture!

  8. Leandra

    We once had a bloom fall off a cactus we bought. It was only when we went to pick it up that we realized it was fake, so I was fully prepared for your lemon to be fake too!

  9. cheryl

    Now I love you guys even more (if possible) – the Monthy Python reference is awesome!!!!!

  10. bec 39

    Anyone else have Peter, Paul & Mary’s “Lemon Tree” in their head now? No? Just me…?

    Mir, I posted something to my blog today and realized that it was Thursday and my post fits into the LT theme! Then I discovered how easy it was to post a reference to it at chookooloonks just below yours. I’m so famous now!

  11. Alison

    “Lots of things in life are not as they seem, and our job is to find the right perspective.”

    Very profound. And I also love the picture of the Mighty Lemon!

  12. Lee-ann

    talking to your kids, can only produce the hope that they listen to you as closely as they do their peers…or remember the details as well as those of their fav tv shows, video game character statistics, details of Medieval times…I am NOT looking forward to the breaking heart stage, but so hope they talk to me about it, and hope I listen to them as well as I hope they listen to me!

  13. Flea

    :) I love the illustration.

  14. Dawn

    I, too, tried to drill these concepts into my daughters’ head over the years. It didn’t stop them from dating lemons and/or getting their hearts broken, but at least they’ve made it to 20 and 24 without any unwanted pregnancies. I don’t know if I should take any credit for that or not, or just thank Lady Luck, but I am extremely grateful in case any powers that be are watching…

  15. Aubri

    You’re such a good mom… I know, I’ve said that before (as have many, MANY others before me) but it’s true, and you need to know it.

  16. Karen

    Oh, Mir… isn’t it the absolute truth.

    By the way… I borrowed your saying in my newest post… it just fit too perfectly. Woulda Coulda Shoulda. And I wish it didn’t fit so well. Hope you don’t mind.

  17. Sarah Hawley

    that perspective picture made me warm and happy. thank you.

  18. Anne

    “….maybe you’ll think it makes sense to just date that second boy behind the first boy’s back, but YOU WILL NOT DO THAT, because it’s dishonest and disrespectful.”

    Gee…wish someone had taught my EX-HUSBAND that. *rolls eyes* He’s still lost in lala land, having a hard time grasping my anger when I found out about his cheating.

  19. Cele

    You guys amaze me. Thank you for that.

  20. Erin

    @bec 39: I DID! Totally got “Lemon Tree” stuck in my head! Glad to see we’re not alone. :)

  21. MomCat

    I had to explain the same situation to my daughter at the age of 10, when it happened to one of her classmates. Not fun, but definitely an object lesson.

    Make a teensy pitcher of lemonade, with a sign that says, “Drink me.”

  22. Jeffrey Levine

    How wise your 11 year old is. I am a big proponent of talking straight to our kids, and you’ve demonstrated the reason beautifully. I think its natural that we want to shield our kids from the hard lessons…the things they MUST go through to develop their own wisdom. But ultimately, they will need to make their own decisions and having these sometimes challenging conversations with them openly and honestly is the best way to prepare them. Thank you for the great post. Jeffrey

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