Friday, November 8, 2013

Life's A Beach


In 2011 Paul and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. Our daughters wisely picked up on my heavy-handed hints that such an auspicious occasion should be lavishly celebrated. I didn't mean a party, nor did I want them to send us on a cruise or to a luxury resort. I wanted THEM, all my crew, in one place at one time...for several days.

These girls of mine are masters of resourcefulness and found us the perfect house on a perfect beach for a perfectly wonderful celebration; they even saw to it that we had perfect weather. So enchanted were we all with our "Endless Summer" house in Gulf Shores, Alabama, that we returned the next year, and the next. (Although, you'd think each year was our first if you measured the level of upreparedness and anxiety that permeates our homes the week preceeding each departure).

Two out of the three years  that we have traveled the 700+ miles, something "flukey" has happened to delay our departure. This year a power outage and monsoon-like rains were our cheery send-off. Traffic snarls, so out of place on interstates, seemed to be the norm, and the week's weather forecast was not encouraging. Yet our spirits were as high as our aforementioned level of anxiety. The punks and I had talked for weeks about what we were anticipating...they were all, save baby Cam, old enough to remember last year and were eager to build bigger/dig deeper/swim farther.  I was anxious to once again do some beach running (a thrilling discovery two years ago) and had a whole bag packed with props for "YaYa's First Annual Beach Fun and Games."

We played "Fill the Bucket",
 "Channel Ping-Pong",
"Flip-Flop Frenzy", 
"Target Frisbee",
 and "Indian Kickball".

We hunted treasure,
dug buckets of seashells,
 and buried people up to their necks.

We fished and played in the water.

We roasted marshmallows on a beach fire and lit sparklers and played  baseball with a shovel for a bat.
We spent hours trying to get $1 kites to fly
We built sand castles and doll houses (Emily's preference). 
We dug halfway to china.
We celebrated Jake's 12th birthday (belatedly)with an "All About Jake" game and Uncle Mo's (early) with cake and blue ice cream and "the-many-faces-of-Uncle Mo" masks. 
We crowned a winner of "YaYa's Fun and Games" and had a glow-stick dance party.
 We ate meatball subs (a traditional "first night" meal), shrimp and fish caught on the annual "Guys Fishing Trip". We took hundreds of pictures and argued over who would get to hold baby Cam.
I'm just sayin'...we had a LOT of fun!

But all those "activities" pale compared to the joy these days afforded me, surrounded by the people I cherish most in all the world. I love, love, love watching my children enjoying their children. I adore watching the cousins bond with each other and their aunts and uncles. My heart skips with delight every time an unexpected moment of humor/insight/gratefulness appears to set another stone in the altar of this place where God and his heaven seems so tangible to me. And I allow myself to think how absolutely divine it would be if this became a rock-solid tradition for us....a place that none of us can imagine forgoing, ever. I can see that seed taking root in the hearts of some of my grandchildren already, a yearning for tradition and a constant in a quickly changing world. Yet I know that tomorrow is guaranteed to no one and circumstances can change in the most unexpected and unwelcome way.  So I will look at my pictures ad nauseum and try not to let my mind go to "What if....?" And I will "remember out loud" those magical days in that, for me, magical place.  I think I can find some little punks to join me in that.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My Emme Girl


I have six grandsons, but only one granddaughter....which makes it pretty much a fair fight. Her two older brothers were no match for her whatsoever, so we brought in reinforcements by producing four more boys; should they learn to act in unison, they might have a chance.
What a surprise her full head of (wild) black hair was to all of us when our girl emerged that February morning! Never before nor after has a grandchild appeared with anything more than a bit of fuzz atop his head. Her mother, Aunt Molly ("Sissy") and I couldn't wait to adorn her in bows ("The bigger the bow, the better the mama") and we changed her clothes so often in the hospital that the nurses would drop by just to see the outfit of the hour. We got used to each new hospital worker we encountered commenting on her "crown of glory" but were caught off guard when one asked, innocently enough, if her father was Hispanic or Asian....a supposition made only the more hilarious since her father has WASP written all over him!

I have spent a considerable time in my "YaYa" years observing and analyzing each of my grandchildren. Like most grandmothers I looked for signs in these little ones, that I adore beyond measure, of my own children (which, when found, both reassure and concern me), as well as those qualities that make each uniquely his/her own person. Stereotypically, I marvel over their cuteness and cleverness, and take tremendous pride in their accomplishments.  Bias aside, I would like to think I have a pretty fair "handle" on most of them ("That one will be a great father"; "This one will be a worrier"; "He's halfway to 'frat boy' already"). But Miss E.....NO  CLUE!   She's alternately marvelous or maddening, darling or dangerous, naughty or nice with a capital "N"! An enigma to say the least, is our girl, a conundrum...a contradiction at every turn.

When this girl was just a wee thing , not yet two, her mother had to be hospitalized with the troubled pregnancy of child number four, who turned out to be our charming Zach. One Sunday morning Emme's mommy walked out of the house and into the hospital and there remained for more than two months. There was no possible way this toddler, so dependent on her mother as all toddlers are, could begin to understand or process such an assault on her security. And although all of us tried our hardest to "fill the gap", there was no way in hell that was going to happen; not Daddy nor brothers nor YaYa were going to make that event okay. We wonder if trust or anger "issues" were birthed then within this complicated combination of beauty and bossiness, or was she always meant to be a "spicy counterpart" to her more predictable brothers? Whichever... a force to contend with is she, though if  "contending" implies "confronting", I'd rather not. She proved long ago that she'll go for broke to defend her position, regardless of how untenable it might be.   This girl  will probably  set the world on fire one day because there will be no deterring her from whatever path she decides to follow; ain't nobody gonna change this child's mind about anything! The only thing I know for sure is that this one, my only girl, I cannot figure out...and it's driving me crazy!

It makes me nuts that she is so stingy with her affections (though I will never stoop to begging). Often she doesn't give me the time of day. I am kept from being totally distressed by this withholding only  because I know I am not singled out; she's an equal-opportunity shunner. It's my prayer that in the years to come she keeps male pursuers at arms length as easily as she does the people who have legitimately earned her hugs.

But when she does flash her smile in your direction it's electric and you'd forgive her anything. Unfortunately, I think she already knows this and uses it. Frequently. Combine that with dark, dark eyes that can flash with delight as well as anger...there's a heart breaker!  And while she would just as soon hit you as look at you, she has an incredibly strong nurturing side....she's the first to offer comfort and succor to whomever is hurt (assuming she hasn't inflicted "the hurt"); she does a better job than almost anyone at calming her younger brother's meltdowns. And, oh! How she loves babies! 

Her baby dolls, most named "Emily" (she hasn't taken exception with her name yet, but I am sure it's just a matter of time) bear the marks of  her "affection". However, she has made it perfectly clear that it's REAL babies she is most interested in. Noticing an infant in a stroller who's mother had stepped a few feet away to examine something in a store, Emily once asked her mom, with all sincerity, "Can we take that one?" And when her newest cousin was born just 3 short months ago, she announced that she was more than willing to take care of him should Sissy and Uncle Mo care for a night out. You know what? She could do it.

Em has grown up surrounded by boys and takes them on willingly and fearlessly. Yet she yearns for the company of other little girls whom she treats almost reverentially, deferring to them and guarding them.  We were all taken aback  at one of her soccer games when it happened that, though she played on a mixed team, there were only girls on the field. Her usual aggressive, competitive style was suddenly and inexplicably non-existent and she hung back. When her mother quarried her about this atypical behavior she answered that "she didn't want the little girls to get hurt"! Try as she might, her mother couldn't convince her that  she should play them exactly as she would the boys.

Some girls are just born with glitter in their veins. Emily has always had a very strong fashion sense and changes her clothes more times in a day than you can count. She ONLY wants to wear dresses and skirts (thus making soccer and any other activity that requires shorts or pants distasteful). And the higher the "twirling factor" of those skirts the better! She is also quite clear that she likes bling: if it sparkles, it's a winner. Thus, her propensity for costumes: princess, fairy, ballerina.....they are not only preferred, but appropriate for any and all occasions, according to our young miss, and often to her father's dismay.

And her hair? "I like it long and loose" is the reply you'll get should you suggest that pulling all or part of it back or up might be in order when you observe her pushing it back from her face for the sixteenth time in an hour. Naturally, she forsook the wonderful bows YEARS ago. And in what has come to be know as "The Hair Event of 2011" our independent little guessed it....cut her hair herself. Sorry, I misspoke. She didn't "cut" her hair....she scalped, butchered, was bad. The lengths we went to make her presentable for family pictures, weddings....well, they are stuff of which blogs are written.

Recently I spent the morning playing lifeguard while all but my infant grandson swam so their mothers could work uninterrupted on a project. Emily started out with her winning ways, asking me to please help her work on her dives.  All went well for at least an hour. But, you know, with 6 kids, the majority 3 and 5 and none over 11, well, things break down. And before long she was mad. Someone had "done her wrong'. She put on her angry face, stormed off (couldn't go farther than the patio though since no one was allowed inside) and "made her stand".  Here mother thinks she impulsively backs herself into a corner and then can't think of a way to get out and still save face. I say she marches dead ahead into that corner and then dares anyone to "cross the line". And she proved long, long ago that she was willing to sacrifice life and limb to hold her position. Not only does she "take no prisoners" she is determined not to be taken alive, if it comes to that. Forget cajoling, bribing, distracting...even wrestling and strong-arming have proven fruitless except for the biggest and strongest of us (or should I say strongest and bravest). Heck, the child takes karate! I'm not sure if it was a stroke of genius or stupidity to teach her a combat skill.

But I digress. I tried to "happy her up" using all the useless techniques I knew and eventually began to croon,
               "There was a little girl,
                 Had a little curl,
                 Right in the middle of her forehead;
                 And when she was good,
                 She was very, very good
                 And when she was bad she was horrid."

I thought I saw the quickest of flashes in those dark eyes early on in the rhyme No smile of course. No dropping of the angry face or softening of the stance. Still....soooo, I repeated it in even more of a sing-songy manner. Now I had her next oldest brother (with whom she has the most "complicated" sibling relationship) joining in. "What's 'horrid' mean?" he asked. Quickly running through all the  permanently scarring child psychology warnings I could recall, I decided the truth would have to do: "It means 'horrible', I said.  The next time through the chant I deliberately paused after "And when she was bad..." and Emily finished my sentence. "...a hurricane?" she asked. Yes, Emily, exactly. "And when she was bad she was a hurricane."

 Okay little Princess, guess we're going to put up with a hurricane now and again, because, Beloved Girl, we are addicted to  your sunshine. So there. Take that!




Saturday, June 15, 2013

All Men Are Scum...

My dad had a rather unsettling (and unflattering) habit of dividing people into two basic groups:  they were either "Salt of the earth", or "Scum of the earth". The latter group far exceeded the former, although the two groups could be somewhat fluid; any guy I was dating fell into the "scum" category until he was history. Then, he was somehow inexplicably promoted to the first, it seemed, when Dad would wistfully ask, "Whatever happened to that _____boy?"
When my own daughters began to have interactions with young males who would disappoint/hurt/betray them, my attempts to comfort/reassure/educate them found me ultimately using a word or two that suggested these "creatures" were less than honorable; possibly even a lower life-form. I might even have used the word "scum" once or twice. I may also have suggested, should their deeds be especially grievous, that death would be a reasonable punishment.
After a few seasons of first Amy, and then Molly, learning to negotiate said relationships, including lessons on "managing expectations" (read that, "not be totally devastated by some stupid stunt or other"), a "Family Motto" evolved. In it's final, most concise form it professed,  "All men are scum and deserve to die". It wasn't formulated all at once, but evolved, and it wasn't spoken the first time in a fit of rage or with anyone holding an object that if swung or hurled would possibly cause bodily harm.
We were sitting at the dinner table one night, the four of us, when Molly recounted something some bone-headed junior high boy had done that left her feeling less than great about herself and, apparently, disenchanted with the entirety of the male population. I am not exactly sure what I was intending to convey to her as I looked across the table, but she held my gaze, sighed and said with sadness and resignation, "I know...all men are scum."  A heartbeat later Amy continued, "And deserve to die." "The Motto" was born.
Suddenly, remembering that we were in the company of one who sported the "y" chromosome and might possibly take offense at this declaration, Molly quickly added, "Except for OUR daddy!"  "No", Paul began a few long seconds later, "I'm scum, too." Without leaving our seats, we three females were mentally hugging his neck and smothering him with kisses, I am certain. Probably every trespass/disappointment/thoughtless act he had ever visited upon any of us was instantly forgotten.
Yes, our "motto" is a harsh/cruel/outlandish over-generalization. Yet we make no apologies. It is a reminder of one of those serendipitous moments when a bond is forged, a relationship is strengthened, a memory is made. So we will continue to say it, albeit tongue-in-cheek, because we are too fond of the warm-fuzzy that accompanies it's utterance to abandon it, lest we offend. In fact, I have actually been know to try to justify it to some who would take exception by remarking, that this is, after all, a scriptural truth:  "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God".  (A rather loose interpretation, granted, but I think a case can be made....)

A few of my friends are fond of collecting what they call "Debby-isms" and this one is right at the top of their list. (Right behind it is "I know what sex, drugs and alcohol all smell like. Don't come home smelling liking any of them."  But that's a blog for another day....) I cringe when I hear them spouting this particular one to  others and usually want to jump in to do "damage control"; obviously it doesn't evoke in others the same warm feeling  that it does for us. Yet, on the upside,  it  give me the chance to "remember out loud" one of my favorite stories...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Just A Little God Story

I have become a huge Jen Hatmaker fan. Her books 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and Interrupted are not only laugh-out-loud funny but super thought-provoking, two attributes that are important to me. Jen has me thinking rather alot about what I have done/am doing/will do for "the least of these", as in Jesus said, "What you don't do for them you didn't do for me" (my rather inelegant, but correct, paraphrase).  Sure, I can reassure myself that I give regularly to certain charities/ministries/causes or be brutally honest and admit I mostly take care of me and mine. For the most part, I keep "the least of these" at the perifery of my radar because they're not really in my "comfort zone" and because when you start to go down that path, it widens into a highway with a zillion lanes and few off-ramps. Nonetheless, Jen had me wondering and making some hesitant, fairly generic inquiries, in God's direction as to just what helping "the least of these" might look like. Do I have to bring home the guy at the intersection with the the cardboard sign and the vacant look in his eyes? Should I become a regular soup-ladler at Mission Arlington? Do I need to give away my favorite jeans and most of my shoes rather than the ones that no longer fit/have some age/didn't suit me anyway?

While I, on the one hand, am striving to be a better human being, with the other I am spending hours each week idling over computer sites dreaming about how I can make my own life cushier/more profitable/less mundane (yes, I am that shallow). So I am on Pintrest, a favorite time-waster of mine,  when I see that someone is offering a free pdf for a little girl's racerback dress pattern. Yea! I like free, and it just so happens I have a small internet business selling handmade children's clothing, so of course I am quick to set about downloading this offering. In so doing, the designer mentions that she is using her pattern to make a couple of dresses to send to little girls in Africa whose families have to make hard choices like buying one dress or food for the week....a conundrum I have not had since....NEVER! Well, shoot, I can make a dress, too. That's no biggie. I've got 30 yards of dress material piled up 10 feet away, for Pete's sake! Best of all, this is beginning to smell  like a "least of these" kind of thing... yet, too easy....too "comfortable" maybe it's just a "co-incidence" and not actually a "God-incidence" ;-)

As I go through the channels to figure out just exactly how my little dress is actually going to make it's way to Africa, I see that this particular clothing drive is being spear-headed by a woman named Margaret who has taken this on as her Junior Women's Club project. Margaret says that she hopes she can have all donations collected by the end of May/first of June when she will be sorting and packaging  the dresses to be transported to Africa and distributed. But my eyes grow wide when I see that Margaret lives in...ta-da!...Tampa, Florida, exactly where I plan to be the last week of May! Okay! Now I am fairly certain that this has "God" written all over it, and I am blown away by the graciousness He has extended toward me as  He has orchestrated this: a task tailor-made (no pun intended) for my skill set, a task that inspired enthusiasm, rather than dread, in me, and a task that allowed me to interract with someone who would share my enthusiasm making this even more personal and special for me! What a great way to get my feet wet in the "serving-the-least-of-these-arena"! I am psyched! And I sew!

On June 2nd I make my way to Margaret's home with my 6 dresses (if one dress is good, 6 is better, right?) where this pretty, vivacious women welcomes me in to meet her young family and for a few short minutes, talking as fast as we can, we share what this experience has meant to each of us. I mention, in passing, that for me this has been a God-thing and she mentions, in passing, that she is "not particularly religious". And I think, "Good thing, because I recall Jesus had a fair amount of trouble with the "particularly religious" and a whole lot better experience with the "not...." I myself would prefer not to be labeled "religious" either, but as one who hears God and tries to obey (more or less, some of the time, and often tentatively!) And I am so-o-o-o grateful for the Margarets of this world who do what they do just because it seems right and good; I hope a lot more of them cross my path.

The donated dresses (Margaret shared that she had originally hoped to have 25 and now anticipated sending upwards of 300!) will be distributed by "Little Dresses for Africa", an organization, I understand that is completely volunteer manned and has NO budget. Yet they have sent clothing to: Burkino Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, DR of Congo, Ethiopia, The Gambia,Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sierrra Leone, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zanzibar, and Zimbawe.

Other countries who received them in crisis situations are: India, Haiti, Cambodia, the Philippines, Honduras, Guatamala, Nicaguara, Mexico ,and in the USA: South Dakota Indian Reservation and the Appalachian area children. Wow! Double Wow!

I am pretty sure my future "assignments" (better yet, "opportunites") to serve the least may not be quite as comfortable for me, but I am excited to see where, and to whom, He leads me next. In the meantime I am calculating how many dresses I could send on my own to "Little Dresses...", or better yet, if I got my friends or church-family together... And I love, love, love the "little God stories" I get to tell as a result! Stay tuned  :-)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

And, so, I run.

About a hundred years ago when I was young-ish, I had a neighbor who talked me into running. It was the 80's when we bought into the "no such thing as too rich or too thin" mentality and I was on the fast-track to anorexia. So, the idea of burning copious amounts of calories in a relatively short span of time was incredibly appealling to me. Several weeks a night, I dragged my children (one in an infant carrier) to the college track and hoofed-it around for about a mile or so.  A few weeks into this new pursuit I talked Paul into joining me.  Long story short, he became a running-addict and I went back to cutting my daily calorie count shorter and shorter.

Fast forward a couple of years and I am intent on growing the spiritual life of my little family (read that" husband"). Assuming I would encounter resistance if I started with the "You should..." approach I brokered this deal:  if Paul would join me in a devotional time each morning, I would once again lace up my running shoes and do my best to keep up.  Surprise, surprise...he went for it! He was faithful to spend time in the Word (still does, 30 minutes first thing every morning) and I was faithful to hit the pavement with him. Nearly every single day, for an entire year, I would accompany him on the first few miles of his workout, and then he would speed off and do double the distance while I would drag my can't breathe/hate this, self back into the house. It should come as a surprise to no one that after that year, I was done. I mean DONE! I had given it a shot, but I hated the last day as much as I hated the first. I could run as far as seven miles, but never once did I experience that so-called "runner's high" (urban legend, if you ask me), nor did I weigh less, have better looking legs...absolutely NO benefits from my vantage point; it was torture and I am not a masochist.

Although no longer a runner myself, I continued to be a supportive wife, dragging two reluctant little kids all over North Texas most Saturday mornings at the crack of dawn, to 5K's, 10K's, half and full marathons. In all kinds of weather, braving porta-potties and mind-numbing boredom, we hung out at finish line after finish line as Paul pursued his passion. And a passion it was. Every day revolved around when he was going to get to run, and if circumstances prohibitted it, wasn't going to be a very good day. I was proud of his committment and accomplishement, but I was also resentful: both because long training runs took time away from the family, and, because I didn't have anything that captured my attention the way running had captured his.

Of course when you are married to a runner, you are inevitably questioned about your own running history and I was always quick to point out:  been there, done that, not going back. No, never. Nothing in it for me. My dear husband overheard me taking my stand one day and commented "Well, you never really gave it your all."  What?! Oh, no Pal....I will concede that there are very few things in life I couldn't have improved upon (hold-over guilt from Harold), but I HAD GIVEN EVERYTHING I HAD to my running experiment and came up empty. His accusation was a stake straight through my heart, and it stings to this day.

So I get into my 50's and I find MY! Oh how I love this game! It's a great workout, it's social, you get to wear cute it, love it, love it! I take lessons, I join a team, I play's all great until I encounter a mysterious arm ailment that keeps me off the tennis court and sleeping sitting up for nearly a year. And during that miserable year of no tennis, I walk to keep up some modicum of fitness. But walking is so....boring!!! And one day this little voice in my head says :"Run." And I say, "No way, Jose. Don't want to, can't make me, never again." But then it occurs to me that that little voice might actually be God, who I am constantly begging for guidance, so on the off chance that it is, in fact, a divine command, I run. The next day I run again. And then I run further.

I have been a runner for nearly five years now. It got me through the arm deal, it got me through cancer, and most recently it got me through a year-long hiatus from tennis when a back issue kept me off the courts (a lift in my shoe is conteracting the effects of a lower spine torqued by scholiosis, so I can play again! Yea!) I run because God told me to. I run because Paul can't; twenty years ago, having just qualified for the New York Marathon, a diagnosis of multiple schorosis robbed him of his great love. He still dreams he's running. I run in part because I know he would, if he could.

Yes, that's really why  I run...because I CAN. No, I don't love it, exactly, but I don't hate it either. Every morning I have that same sinking feeling when I think about getting out there. But, when I get my shoes on, and my earphones  in, I am ready. I run on the streets even though I know I am vulnerable to aggressive dogs and wierdos, but I won't live in fear. (One or two friends have said I need to carry a gun....this is Texas, after all. I haven't seriously entertained that idea yet, but I do carry pepper spray. Even then,  if I actually used it it would probably end up in my own eyes instead of my attackers!) Even when it's 90+ degrees, I run. Even when I think I am too old and too tired for this, which is often., I run. Although I can't recite a long list of benefits (and, I am sticking to my story of never experiencing a "runner's high"),  I know something about it keeps me getting out there for about 15-20 miles a week, week after week.

 I am not a fast runner, but it doesn' matter how slow I go, I'm still lapping everyone on the couch, right? And, the one and only race I entered (a 1500 women race called The Jiggle Butt Run), I came in first in my age catagory. Go figure!  (Of course I promptly retired from racing, because hey, quit while you're ahead!) And last year I got to run barefoot on the beach....fantastic!!  I have to admit, when I have finished a run, I feel accomplished...virtuous even thought I don't yet know the full reason God intended this for will be on my list of questions...

It will end one day, the running. But the little voice is going to have to say when. Until that time, I'll keep pounding the pavement and loving the looks on peoples faces when I tell them I run. Yes, on purpose. Yes, without stopping.


Because. I. Can.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bathing Suits

So, it's Valentines Day. It's not a day that I go to any effort for whatsoever, anymore. But it wasn't always so and I am recalling one many years ago when I chose to express my affection with gifts other than, heaven forbid, candy, expecially to my chidren. (Yes, I was one of THOSE moms even way back then.) My gift to Amy, probably age 3 or 4 at the time, was her first bikini (one of only a few in her lifetime because she did not, and does not, fancy herself a "bikini girl", unlike her twig-like sister who looked way too good in a bikini way too young. But that is a story for another day.)

Amy's first bikini was sky blue eyelet, and it looked darling on her cherubic little girl body, tasteful and feminine...just MY style for my beloved daughter. But today, as she modeled it in my minds eye, 30+ years after the fact, my memory skipped ahead  to another bathing suit experience a short time later. 

We were shopping in what is now Macy's, and as I looked through one rack, she approached me with something she had pulled from another: a bikini...a gold lamé bikini. "Isn't this beautiful?" she quarried,as serious as could be, as she held it up for me to inspect.. I was appalled; N n way would I ever allow my beautiful little girl to have such a thing  grace her body; a travesty to a mom who had total wardrobe control (among other things), and felt every decision she made for HER children reflected powerfully on HER.

I hope I at least had had the grace to agree with her assessment; I probably didn't. In truth I know for a fact that the words that came from my mouth were "Put it back." I regret that now, would re-write history, if I could. While I don't think denying her her preferred choice in swimwear did any permanent damage, I wish I had seen the bigger picture (ahh! tje wisdom of retrospect!) What would it have hurt for me to have to just said, "Oh, yes! It's divine! Let's get it"? Would it have started her down some path I didn't want her to  travel? Would this just be the tip of the iceberg? Would she become a fashion catastrophe?  Really?....REALLY?!!!. How else does one develop her own sense of style without some experimental forays into a few things that would be better left on the rack? (Let me add that in fifth grade I once chose an ensemble that included a black velvet vest, aqua sweater-knit skirt and red tights!)

This girl still loves bling and has  fine fashion sense. Her own cherubic daughter also loves all things sparkly and already shows an inclination to dress with flair at age 3.  And my daughter, far more gracious than I, with greater vision and more concern for feelings and self-esteem than I ever had, would respond much differently if faced with this same quarry, I believe. " Yes, Emily, it's perfect! We'll get it", I can envision her responding. And they would both laugh one day when the story is recalled. "How could you let me?" I can hear an older Emily ask, and her mother would properly respond, "because you picked it out, and I thought, "what could it hurt?" Yes, indeed...what could it hurt?

There are so many things I did as a young mom that I might change today. Little things, like gold bikinis, were just that: little things, without big consequences.. No, lamé is something I most likely will never embrace, but I should have embraced my young daughter's wish to express herself in ways that delighted her and built her confidence in her own ability to make good decisions, even if they wouldn't have been my choice. After all, there is nothing immoral or illegal about gold lamé.  I wish tthat bikini story (a family favorite) had had a different ending.

 Myabe next year I will search out a gold lamé bikini for Emily. Maybe one for Amy, too. What the lamé all around! Won't we be a sight?!

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Pearl of Extraordinary Worth

She was three,  maybe four. We were driving in my car, running errands, she and I. You get the picture: she in the backseat intent on the item  she had reluctantly been allowed to bring along, or more likely, doing a running monologue; I, intent on accomplishing my "list", not keen on distractions and definitely not "savoring the moment". Then she happened to spot an American flag and announced she could say the "Pledge of Legiance" (her term).As she finished I probably effused with praise, at least I hope I did. Then she quickly asked if I would like to hear "the cute little song that goes with it".
To my surprise she launched, ploddingly, but confidently, into "My Country 'Tis of Thee"... her version of "My Country 'Tis of Thee", and as I was just thinking that that was not  the song I anticipated, I heard :

" My country 'tis of thee,
sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
 Land of the pilgrims pride,
 land where my father's fried...."  

That, no doubt made perfect sense to a little girl who knew nothing but the blistering heat of Texas summers! But more importantly, I had just experienced one of those remarkable moments that takes you completely by delightful surprise and you know  will be remembered, re-told often, and never be forgotten.  Like finding a pearl in an oyster. Like finding a diamond in a Cracker Jacks box.

From the mouths of babes spring the most amazing comments (and let's admit it, one's own babies are always the most amazing), reflective of their fresh and unique take on their very self-focused world. Then all too soon the rest of the world moves in to correct these delightful mis-speaks,"straightening their corners" and "sanding their rough spots" (and I am somewhat chagrined to admit I am good at both).  I hope I refrained from doing it that day, but I probably didn't.  Regardless, "the cute little song" that goes with the "Pledge of Legiance" with always be one of the best songs ever; it never fails to transport me back to an ordinary day that produced a precious and completely unexpected memory for me of that beloved little girl who was three, maybe four. A pearl of extraordinary worth.