“You left just when you were becoming interesting.”
Piled around me are composition books, folders, scissors, and a Sharpie to write with. Later I will pack a lunch before I go to bed. The clothes are already set out.
Tomorrow my daughter starts kindergarten.
I don’t know if you know this, you might, but I’m not a baby person. I like other people’s babies okay as long as I can give them back, and I always could. I always told my mother that I really wasn’t into kids until they could have a conversation with me. Real ones. I wasn’t lying.
Child conversations are the best things ever. Babies? Babies are cute, and there have been a few that even I wanted to nom up just from overwhelming cuteness, but as far as hanging out 24/7? Babies just don’t do it for me.
My daughter. Almost 6 years ago I held her and thought, “What do I do?” There were bad times and good times. She made me laugh from the get go. She was incredibly cute after the newborn thing went away, and as she started to talk at two and a half, and then she started talking back. And while I loved her every second there have been times I didn’t like her much. She’s been terrible to her little brother very often, she’s lipped back at her father and myself recently…
And there have been a few times where when she lipped back I thought, “Nice. Very good.”
And then I sent her to her room.
Kids have to push back in order to pull away. I know it. Everyone knows it. It’s just-
She’s learning from me. And I am very good at being flip. I do it even in jest, she picks up on it, and it gets filed away with everything else she stores for later. That’s a bunch of stuff. But the flip? She hasn’t yet learned that it’s fine in some situations and not in others. She just lets loose. And recently I have been very impressed.
That’s a good thing. Because I was bullied.
Starting school has worried me constantly since she started growing a personality. The day she announced to all of Target, “I’m a DOOFUS!!” happily, with no care in the world, I started to panic a bit.
We use that term as an endearment in our house. Because each of us, no exception, is a doofus.
But, she is a doofus. And while we all think that’s great, she’s going to get around other kids, and they just might not. Because I’ve been there. And being there sucked. So over the last year I’ve been, I think, too hard on her at times.
“You can’t do that.”
“Because it’s mean. And people don’t like mean people. They’re afraid of them, but they don’t like them. And you want people to like you, right?”
And each and every time I’ve thought, and Rich has reminded me, that siblings do these things to each other, but I don’t want her going in unprepared. I want her to recognize mean. The worst thing anyone ever really called me in the lower grades was Braniac, and it was nasty. Can you imagine? My child, who is smart, funny, and totally a people (other than me) pleaser might get mocked for the same.
At the same time I answered every question that she asked me. We’ve talked at length recently about death, dying, and burial practices. We’ve discussed hunting for food versus killing other human beings due to anger. This morning she told me that she never wanted to swim with a whale shark because it might swallow her, and I told her it absolutely would not and showed her a Youtube video of humans swimming with them. She then informed me that someday she wants to swim with a whale shark.
We’ve looked at the surface of Mars and discussed its topography. She wants to know if it’s sand or dirt. Where’s the water? Can we put people there?
Did dinosaurs eat people? Oh, how long ago? That’s a long time.
She’s sat in the back of the car and said, “Vultures have to eat, too, but that poor deer.”
We’ve built fairy houses, and I’ve watched her become addicted to drawing. She draws scenes and action. No more houses with trees for her. I’ve taped together comic books. She tells me that she wants to grow up and do a Hello Kitty cartoon when she’s an animator. She wants to rock and roll.
She’s leaving just as she’s becoming interesting, and I have to just watch.
She’s going to do fine. Me? I’m going to miss her terribly now. Even though we butt heads constantly, and she keeps growing a bigger backbone, I have to be grateful that she finally has that backbone and smile tomorrow. Kiss her goodbye. Tell her to have a great day.
And ALWAYS have her back when she needs it. Because she will.