It seems like it was just two months ago when I bought my 10-year-old daughter new shoes. Three new pairs in fact.
Say…it WAS just two months ago. And now she has outgrown them. “Can’t you just wear your basketball shoes to school?”
My “lady girl” as I call her–is sized as a lady in clothes and shoes but is still the age of a girl–she’s tricky to shop for. She’s not ready for low-plunging necklines and low-waisted jeans. And oh the boots in her size. Thigh-high. High-heeled.
Off to the lady boot store we went. Let me tell you, when you outgrow your boots and it’s the end of January, it’s slim pickings…for an age-appropriate boot. She found the perfect pair. For a hooker.
We finally found a pair we both agreed on. No-heel, black suede with fringe…in her size!
She’s only 10 but her feet happen to be ginormous. Big feet on a woman = big brains. This I know. After all, my girl takes after her Mama.
She used to be on the shy side. She was quietly happy and happily quiet. At my encouraging, she had play dates. At my pushing, she got friends’ phone numbers at recess. Now she schedules her own play dates.
On her report cards, her teachers write “she is a pleasure to have in class”…”all of the kids like her”…”she makes others feel calm.”
Wow. To me, those words are more important than As. It just took her a few years to build confidence. And to thrive.
Today when I was jogging with my dog, Otis. We passed her elementary school while they were at recess.
Otis stood statue-like, nose in the air, tail in the air, watching the kids. (And to pee.) I squinted through the crowds of children and spotted my daughter playing kick ball against the wall with her friends. They were laughing. Squealing. Dancing. High-fiving. Thriving.
I yelled her name. She didn’t hear. I yelled again and waved like a maniac. She didn’t hear. And she certainly didn’t need Mom checking in on her.
Fast forward 10 years? I know, now, that she will be just fine.
I do not own a Goofy t-shirt. I am not a wearer of Disney pins. My vehicle does not sport a sticker with our family members in Mickey Mouse ears.
Yet I know the songs to The Nightmare Before Christmas. I own the majority of Disney movies on DVD. Even Blu-ray. Watching Cinderella with with my daughter makes me happy. On Sunday nights as a child, I watched The Wonderful World of Disney, cuddled in my jammies. I rode It’s a Small World 30 years ago. And again last week.
See? I’ve been drinking the Disney Kool-Aid since I was a child.
How can you NOT? In our culture, it’s almost force-fed.
As an American family, you “go to Disneyland.” This part was sorta nagging at me since my two youngest kids, aged seven and 10, are the perfect age and we hadn’t been in five years. Down the line, my daughter may not want to go. Or, she may not want to go with me. The time was NOW.
It was my Mom duty to go to Disneyland.
So, I planned a surprise trip, with my husband’s stealth encouragement. The suspense of keeping this secret for two months! On my daughter’s 10th birthday, we sent her to school and promised we’d pick her up a little early to do “something fun.” Maybe a frozen yogurt treat? She’d like that. That’s the kind of girl she is.
On the way to the airport, I nearly peed my pants, I was so excited. Excited to head to sunny California for a few days. But mostly, excited to share the magic with my children. This video shows my daughter’s I-don’t-believe-you reaction, as we announced the Disneyland plans while pulling up curbside at the airport, with her bags secretly packed in the back. You can hear the giddiness (Kool-Aid) in my voice. I don’t think it quite sank in with her until we were actually walking through airport security.
And here we are spazzing out on the airplane. Giddy with excitement! I was extra giddy. I was about to be a kid again and see “the magic of Disney” through their child eyes.
And when the flight attendant asked what we would like to drink, we answered:
They say a tween is the age between middle childhood and adolescence, usually between eight and 12 years old. I have one of those. She turns 10 today.
She is full of life. She is radiant. She is blooming.
In her room, you’ll find her surrounded with 52 stuffed animals that smile down on her. Bunnies, a leopard, dogs, elephants, owls, an alligator, monkeys, bears, dragons, even a sloth. An “animals of the world” wall poster takes up half her room. Where do pygmy marmosets live? Ah, now I know.
A bookshelf with Dork Diaries, Judy Moody, Judy Bloom, A Secret Garden, and old favorites Pinkalicious, Fancy Nancy, The Giving Tree, Goodnight Moon, and Curious George. Dusty soccer trophies since she was four.
Posters with horses galloping in snow, in water. One white horse smiles with a pink rose in her mouth.
A red horse stable in the corner with Breyer horses of all sizes sits next to her cash register for playing store.
On her desk is a bin with 200 markers and thick drawing pads, Origami papers for new birds to form, and a sewing machine waiting for new creations. She has mastered purses and animal tails. Tails? To pin on her skirts, of course.
Her dresser spills over with earrings. Her ears were pierced on her ninth birthday. Cute penguins, hearts, butterfly earrings. Trendy dangly feather earrings.
Her iPod is docked by her bed. My alarm skills are no longer required. Adele songs fill her playlist. She knows all of the words.
Drawers are filled with cheetah-print leggings, polka-dot miniskirts, and t-shirts with puppies. She is a colorful being with her own sense of style.
She plays with her puppy every chance she gets. She shops for new earrings. She jumps rope at recess. She draws fanciful dragons. She wears adult-sized shoes; we are nearly the same size. She bakes cookies with me. She likes to cuddle up by her Dad to watch volleyball. She dresses up in capes, wings, and tails and flies through the house with her little brother. She watches The Simpsons with her big brother. She could easily stay up past midnight on weekends if we let her. She plays an aggressive game of soccer. She makes fairy houses out of twigs.
My girl-child-tween-tween is 10 today. This is just the beginning of her blooming.
You know how Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton wore vials of each other blood around their necks?
Well, my daughter and I wear vials of silver glitter around our necks–they are pendants of sorts–with the word SHINE written in calligraphy nestled inside.
Quirky art pieces we bought at a local antique store on Mother’s Day.
And while not as headline-making as the vials of blood, these vials are magical. And they have special powers.
What are their powers? They make us feel special, especially when we wear them in unison.
As we were selecting the necklaces, I told my daughter something like this: “You are special. You are full of light. You shine. Wear this proudly and with confidence. Don’t let anyone put you down and take your shine away.”
That message is important and the necklaces serve as reminders, in case we forget or in case we are having a crappy day. Because of that, they are worth infinitely more than the $15 we sprang for each one. In fact, they are priceless.
Mixes paint colors and demonstrates brush techniques with his daughter, while she sits wide-eyed with awe and follows his lead–turning blank canvases into works of art.
Watches old war movies with his son, late into the night.
Loves his children.
Plants apple trees and hardy perennials and Douglas Firs, transforming the yard into an oasis. He buys the spindly Charlie-Brown-trees at the nursery and nurtures them until they are full and tall and lush.
Kisses his children to sleep and makes up a new kiss each week: angel (soft as a whisper), bird (pecks your neck), and puppy (nibbles your ear)–causing the children to giggle and wonder what will next week’s kiss bring?
Demonstrates the work ethic and provides for his family. Every day.
Removes splinters with his special X-Acto knife, squeezes blisters on soccer toes, and pulls baby teeth, that are hanging-by-a-thread, with a washcloth. He is not squeamish.
Talks Star Wars trivia with his son. For hours.
Gives prep talks and pep talks before soccer, football, and baseball games, reinforcing the importance of playing your best.
Buries pets who were dearly loved.
Compliments and supports his children’s projects with genuinity: Lego creations of hovercrafts-with-shooting-missiles; portraits of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in watercolor; B+ math tests; diagrams depicting the life cycle of water; drawings of super heroes with stick bodies.
Cooks with heat, introducing his children to spice and zest.
Puts his family first. Always.
Lays down ground rules for his children about how to act–and about how not to act–in the family, in school, in society.
Queues up the children’s DVDs first in the Netflix queue, so they arrive the day they are released.
Treats his dogs with compassion, love-and-tough-love, and mutual respect.
Turns any weekday into a family party night, with Indiana Jones and popcorn.
Teaches his children the importance of being kind to each other, others, animals–and most importantly, their mother.
This Dad I know is the father of our three children.
My Dad would hold out his hand to me in the parking lot and I would grab onto his finger. Hand-and-finger we walked across the bubbling asphalt, where temperatures in Missouri would hover at 95 degrees. My childhood summers were spent in Missouri; my parents were divorced.
Our destination: air-conditioned Sears. I would be giddy with excitement, on my near-weekly dates with my Dad.
The Sears candy counter would greet us, with its smells of warm cashews and popcorn. Its vivid colors and heaps of candy were endless: orange slices, fruit sour balls, giant lollipops, fudge, pecan logs, chocolate honeycomb, candy sticks, golden butterscotch, malted milk balls, Boston baked beans.
It was heavenly!
I would linger, wishing and hoping. Then pleading, for orange slices.
“Nah,” my Dad would say. “You don’t need them.” As he walked towards the hardware section.
But I DID need those orange slices! I needed to taste their chewy, sugary flesh.
We meandered around the shiny red mowers–where you could smell the new, rubbery tires–lawn furniture with welcoming umbrellas, and fans.
Yes! The fans! My favorite!
Big box fans with red and blue streamers blowing in the air, waving. With a beach ball bouncing and hovering, on top of the fan, showing off. I would stare at the ball, mesmerized. Then would grab it and pull it off course and replace it, where it would continue to float.
My Dad would always buy something. Bolts? A hammer? Who knows. And did he really need to buy an item or was it the air conditioning and the outing itself that beckoned? All I knew was that I still yearned for candy.
On the way out, I pleaded my case again. I mean, really, how could he resist my charm?
A quick stop by the candy counter on our way out.
The rush of heat, as we exited, seemed hotter than before. It warmed my goosebumped arms.
Crossing the parking lot, I clutched my little paper sack, crinkling in my hands, filled with a dollar’s worth of orange slices. I would take little bites, savoring them, so they would last longer.
Those were simpler times. Now, no more Sears candy counters. They are long gone.
I called my Dad the other day and we reminisced about our outings dates at Sears. We chatted and laughed about those orange slices.
And for a few minutes, we resurrected those decades-old memories, which are not so long gone after all.
I am linking up with Yeah Write with other awesome writers. C’mon and link up and read some good posts. Then c’mon back on Thursday to vote for your favorites.
Why can’t we be friends? Well, I tried. But she was a bitch.
Here is how it went down.
My daughter met a friendly girl in her third-grade class. Annie* was another turquoise-leggings-wearing child with a quirky sense of humor. Oh goody, a new friend for my daughter! My daughter got Annie’s number and plans were soon made for a play date.
A few days later, I called Annie’s mother, Nancy.*
Nancy and I clicked! She was so nice. We were the same age. We swapped stories. There was laughter. We were both mothers, juggling work and activities. Oh goody, I may have found a new friend too!
We scheduled the girls’ play date for a few days later. Annie and her mother came over and I invited them in and gave them a tour of our home. The girls giggled and ran upstairs and instantly began organizing a puppet show.
Then, Nancy handed me an AdvoCare sample. And that’s when all the trouble began.
Turns out she is an AdvoCare distributor. AdvoCare is all about energy-boosting supplements and vitamins to give you more energy, lose weight, and “improve your performance.” I later learned that Nancy is pretty famous infamous in our neck of the woods. A power seller. And she is infamously annoying too.
The AdvoCare sample, called “Spark,” was a berry supplement to boost one’s energy. I took the sample, thanked her, and promptly tossed it into my kitchen junk drawer.
This little packet had a life “spark” of its own.
Back to the play date. There were puppet shows, dress-up, a stuffed animal parade. drawing, Kung Fu Panda. Popcorn, chocolate pudding, sliced apples. The girls laughed and shrieked. A great play date.
When Nancy picked up her daughter several hours later, she asked me again, “So are you going to try the energy sample? Just add it to your morning smoothie. You’re gonna have so much energy! You’ll feel great! I do!” Lots of smiles of encouragement.
“Yeah, I’ll try it,” I lied. I had no intention of adding this packet to my morning smoothie.
Stubborn? Maybe. “I am NOT taking HER supplement,” I thought.
Righteous? Maybe. “I don’t want fake-sugar, red powder in MY smoothie.”
The next day, I get a call from Nancy. Oh goody, I thought, she’s calling to schedule another play date for the girls since they had so much fun. Uh no.
Nancy: “Have you tried the AdvoCare sample?”
Me: “Not yet.”
Nancy: “Are you planning to?”
Me being wimpy: “Yeah, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Soooo, do you want to get the girls together sometime next week?”
Nancy: “Sure. Your daughter can come to our house after school on Wednesday.”
It’s a plan. The very next day, I get another call.
Nancy: “I’m hosting an AdvoCare party and would love you to come. It’s on Thursday at 7:00 p.m.”
Me (cringing and lying): “Oh that sounds fun but I can’t. Maybe another time.”
Nancy: “Well, I’m having another AdvoCare party the following week. Can you make that work?”
Me (feeling put-on-the-spot, I wimped out, but was getting mad): “I’ll check and get back to you.” Then I hung up. “What is her DEAL?!” I thought.
Her deal is that she is making her money off of selling AdvoCare and the way she does it is by hosting parties. “What is MY deal?!” I thought, “Why don’t I just tell her no?”
I hate going to fake parties. “Fake parties” where you’re supposed to mingle, hear the presentation, and buy whatever is being sold. Candles that smell like candy canes, potpourri that smells like peaches, make-up that makes you break out, and AdvoCare supplements and vitamins that give you oh-so-much-energy. And you feel forced to buy something because the hostess is a friend of your friend. And you don’t want to be cheap. So you try to mingle. You drink a glass of white wine and eat the Triscuits and wonder why there isn’t more to eat. After all, you’re buying a candle for twenty freaking dollars. Shouldn’t that warrant some good cheese? Or some seven-layer-bean-dip?
I appreciate that these entrepreneurs are taking action to make money, with a flexible schedule, that enables them to stay home with their children. But I don’t appreciate when the selling turns to selling-by-force. It’s manipulative and annoying.
A few days passed–before the second play date–Nancy called me again.
Nancy (persistent): “So, can you come to my party?”
Me (getting a little ballsy): “No, I’m not really into going to those types of parties.”
Nancy: “I’d be happy to schedule a conference call with you to tell you all about AdvoCare.”
Me (A freaking conference call?? Finally, I’ve had it.): “You know what? I’m not into AdvoCare. I have plenty of vitamins and supplements. I don’t need any more.”
Nancy: “But I think you should hear more about AdvoCare. It’s really a great product.”
Me: “I don’t mean this to be awkward but…” (And you know by saying that, it’s going to be awkward) “I feel like you’re pressuring me to buy AdvoCare whenever you talk to me. And I don’t think that’s cool. I mean, I’m glad that our daughters are friends, but I won’t be buying any AdvoCare. Ever. So please stop asking me.”
There. I said it. Totally awkward.
Nancy: “Um, OK.” She sounded weird. And that was the last time I heard from her. Second play date? Never happened.
And THAT is why we can’t be friends. Um, Nancy, don’t use your daughter as a way to sell your products. That’s just awkward. And when the mothers say no, don’t pull mean tricks and ruin sweet, childhood friendships. That’s just mean.
I haven’t spoken to Nancy since. But I do see her gold Honda Odyssey around town, with a ginormous AdvoCare window cling on the back. And now that I can see her coming from a mile away, I get the SPARK out of there!
This post is one of 50 cool blog posts, part of the Yeah Write Challenge. Read them all and vote for your 5 favorites this Thursday.
I energetically mother three children: 14, 10, and 8, am married to my college sweetheart, and have two dogs. My life is full of laughs. eye rolls, love, and laundry. I'm friendly and genuine and blog about my bumbling life.