“Mom, can we get this one, please?” begged the little boy, eyeing the whimsically designed game that Chloe and Sophie adored when they were his age. He examined the brightly colored box and its well-worn contents with the kind of childlike yearning my girls haven’t expressed in years. When his mother gently refused to buy it for him, he eventually chose another toy and walked away happy. He reminded me of Lisa, the young girl who fatefully discovered the slightly damaged, but ever-so-lovable Corduroy in the department store.
Sophie walked toward me and tried, without much success, to suppress her grin. Gesturing with her hands in excitement, she yelled “Mom!” several times as she approached the dining room table where I was sitting.
“I finished Harry Potter! I finished it! I can’t believe I finished it!”
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I kept journals. During my senior year in high school and throughout college, and again for two years in my early 30s after my father died, I filled more than 20 blank books with the minute details of my inner and outer lives.
A few months ago, I found them in a box in my basement. After reading a few entries, I quickly realized I wasn’t ready to revisit my past. I closed the box, put it back on the shelf and returned to my daily routine.
The “Romeo and Juliet” script was sitting on the dining room table, looking forlorn and abandoned. It was 11:30 am. A mere three hours earlier, I had assured Sophie on the way to the bus stop that I had put it in her backpack.
“Damn, she’s tall!” I marveled as Sophie stood beside her friends the other day. She towered over her 10-year old peers by several inches and although her rapidly increasing height wasn’t news to me, it was still startling to see the contrast.
The sound of men gamely cheering as their team scores a soccer goal. The sound of two girls kicking their own ball as they emulate their dads playing on the field. The sound of large paper target faces crinkling in the breeze as they’re placed on their stands in preparation for a morning of archery. The sound of children yelling in the playground as they swing and climb.
Chloe recently opened my eyes to a hard truth. She’s been on a “healthy eating” kick for a few months and it’s serious enough that she now has a dedicated space in the pantry for her rolled oats, quinoa, wheat pasta, buckwheat flour, rice noodles, peanuts (for homemade peanut butter), slivered almonds, a spiralizer to make zucchini pasta…and the list goes on.
As she’s ventured deeper into her food experimentation, I’ve struggled with contradictory feelings. On the one hand, I’m proud of her self-sufficiency. On the other hand, I feel inadequate because, let’s face it, she still has a few more years under our roof and shouldn’t I be the one to prepare these nutritious meals for her?
“I can’t wait to move out,” remarked Chloe a couple of weeks ago. She had just walked in the door after school and we were both standing by the kitchen sink having a conversation – about what, I don’t recall.
They had wiped their plates clean. All that remained were some stray vegetables and small bones.
“Did you like the meat, girls?” Papa asked. They nodded their assent. In the seconds that followed, I looked up at my husband and attempted to use our finely tuned marital ESP to convey a warning to him. “Do not say anything more on the subject,” I said with my eyes.
I was a young teenager from suburban New Jersey when I first discovered David Bowie. I was a conventional kid – followed the rules, did my work, behaved…I didn’t really have an ounce of rebellion in me. But when I listened to his raspy, chameleon-like voice sing lyrics that seemed to speak only to me, I’d become someone else for the length of a song. A girl on the cusp of womanhood who didn’t care what others thought of her, who dared to be different, who could actually hold a tune. Bowie was my rebellion.