My daughter: I want to watch a photo.
Me: A photo?
Her: Of the one that I like. About the man who can’t eat anything.
Me: The video we watched last night? (“Weird” Al’s “Fat”)
Her: Yeah. ‘I’m getting fat!’
While driving home, Paramore’s “Ain’t It Fun” comes on the radio.
Me: It’s your jam!
Her: It’s not my jam, it’s your jam!
Me: It’s not my jam. I thought it was your favorite song.
Her (crying): It’s not my jam!
I turn down the radio.
Her: TURN IT UP!
She is constantly drawing now, which is the perfect activity. Her dad paints a lot, and when she sees him paint, she wants to paint or draw, too. Her specialty is heads with arms that shoot out of the sides and little stick legs (by the end of the summer, the heads have teeth). Sometimes they are self portraits, and sometimes they are other people. We have sheets of drawn heads all over the house and in the backseat of the car (it seems that every place she goes gives her an opportunity to draw something). Toward the end of the summer she presents a drawing to me that is a “snowman jumping rope” and a “broken teenager.”
We are about to go into Mexico for lunch, and she picks up a drawing from the and says she has to give it to the man (we don’t know which man). When we go inside, she hands the drawing the person who shows us to our seat.
“She drew it for you,” I said.
“Okay,” he said. I don’t what he does with it from there.
She and I have gotten home past her bedtime because we had dinner at a food truck court (burgers and gelato). We both go outside while I take the dog out, and immediately she strips down to her underwear and is in her tiny pool. It’s really hard to stick to bedtime on the weekends.
She and I are eating red-fruit popsicles on the front porch. It’s very hot and windy. As she slowly eats her popsicle, the red fruit juice flies from her and keeps hitting my white blouse, which I have miraculously kept stain-free. I get up to get a napkin, leaving her on the front porch. There she is, behind the porch door, her face dripping with red, like a pint-sized vampire waiting to be invited in.
Before her Saturday swim class, my husband and I drop off our daughter at the kids’ area at the gym so that we can work out. While I’m finishing up in the gym, she and my husband walk up to me and ask if I have her bathing suit.
I do not. There was some confusion. He thought that I had packed it in her gym bag, but it was still hanging somewhere to dry.
Either way, we don’t have it. She is very upset about this. In my few years as a parent, I have never felt so bad about something we’d done. We pace around, trying to keep her calm. We think of all the options. There’s not enough time to go home and get it. Our friend who is coming to swim class doesn’t have any spare swim shorts. I almost ask a mom whose five-year-old girl is finishing swim class if we can use her swimsuit.
My daughter is sulking in the gym lobby while we wait to return our locks at the front desk. I have only one last thing to try. I pull the pack of fruit snacks from my purse. She lights up and runs over to me to get the bag, and is happy again.
I am sad for when fruit snacks won’t fix everything.
We’ve invited our friends and their son over for brunch and tiny backyard pool time. She sees her friend every day in day care, but they are both really excited to see each other. Plus, to accompany the waffles I made, our friends (the parents) brought fried chicken. So they are our best friends now.
After we eat, the kids are bathing-suited up and ready to go in the pool, but they are both bothering each other. He does something, and she hangs her head down and slowly walks away until we intervene. Then she upsets him and he hangs down his head and slowly walks off. Soon, they are both slow walking around each other in circles with their heads down. Little kids are so sensitive.
They are still best buds.
My husband is out of town for four days, and on Friday night my daughter and I watch Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs for the first time. Between taking the dog out every ten minutes and also not paying attention, I only catch about 1/3 of it. She loves it, and watches it again the next morning. And the next morning. Throughout her three viewings, I’ve watched the entire movie. It’s very funny. She loves talking like Steve the Monkey, and especially likes Baby Brent. If you haven’t seen the movie, Baby Brent’s Sardines has a commercial where Baby Brent pulls a wagon full of sardines. Kids should “watch out , Baby Brent,” as the wagon of sardines falls over. He says “Uh-oh.”
No one is as committed to anything as my daughter is to reenacting the Baby Brent sardine commercial from Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.
She does this all day on Saturday, but since I missed that part of the movie on the first watch, I have no idea what she’s doing (although it’s very funny). By the end of the weekend, quotes from the movie are about 50% of what she’s talking about. I feel like my husband needs to watch it immediately just to get up to speed on what he’s missed. I buy the movie for her for $5 at Target, and when my husband watches it for the first time, I actually get excited for him to see it. Now he knows what we mean when we tell each other “Steve!”
I bring home a tomato from a coworker.
“Oh I love tomatoes,” she tells me.
“You do?” I ask.
“I’m not going to eat them until I’m an adult,” she says.
My husband’s friends are coming to dinner. The couple just moved to Richmond. My daughter and I hadn’t met them before, but she’s really excited to meet the male half. His last name is Butts.* She cannot stop talking about him. The night before they come over, the word “Butts” is said a record-breaking number of times at our dinner table (a million?). This freedom is overwhelming to her. She has never talked about another person with such enthusiasm. It’s made me lift the ban on the use of the word “butt” as an improper noun. It makes life a lot easier to have one less thing to monitor. Also, “butts” is funnier than bottom. And I like to say “hang on to your butts” while driving. It’s a win-win.
My brother is throwing out the first pitch at the Flying Squirrel’s game. Or, really, the tenth first pitch of the night. He gets free tickets because of it, but he has to leave for work as soon as it’s over. The short time leading up to the (tenth) first pitch is awesome. She plays her first round of mini golf for $1 before we go inside the Diamond. My brother gets me, my daughter, my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew on the field with him. The kids get some personal Nutzy time, my daughter gets to play catch with her uncle, and I get to enjoy the amazing view from the field. It’s an “‘80s Night” theme, and one of the ten pitches is thrown by the Ghostbusters. After the first pitch** we sit in great seats (I now think it’s worth it to buy the $11 seats). The weather is perfect for a ball game. It was overcast all day, but not humid. And after the parade of snacks: hot dog, popcorn, and Dippin’ Dots, my daughter continues to happily hang out for maybe twenty minutes. This is the first time we’ve taken her to a baseball game that I actually got to watch a significant part of it. It was really nice, and a glimpse of the good things that come with non-squirmy ages. It doesn’t hurt that she’s sitting next to her cousin and they’re both playing on their chairs. Whatever works.
My sister and her family move back to town in May (she’s been away from Richmond for seven years). This is a life-changer for me for many reasons. First, while she gets the house ready, I spend a couple of days hanging out with my nephew. I probably spend more time with him in one weekend than I have in the previous two years of his life (while I am his only aunt, it’s still important for me to be the best). She is better at seeing family than I am, so through her I see my grandparents, parents, and brother more. She’s been there when we needed a babysitter. My daughter will do anything if involves going to her aunt’s house. And I’ve already decided she’s hosting Christmas for the rest of our lives. It’s perfect.
She and I see movies together. I can’t remember the last time that happened — maybe Kill Bill Vol. 1. Our second movie night is at the Byrd — which she hadn’t been to in almost ten years (“It’s absolutely the same,” I assure her). And because she’s a good sister, she agrees to go to Shyndigz with me to get a piece of peanut butter pie.
My last memory of my sister in Richmond prior to that was when we both had apartments in the Museum District. After Hurricane Isabel I was sitting on my front porch and she was riding by on her bike. Neither of us had power. She had just been to Ukrop’s and bought cookies. I cooked her a bagel in my oven. I had power the next day, but she didn’t have it back for a couple of weeks.
My daughter has been having a hard time falling asleep lately. She’s up until almost 10 P.M. sometimes (way past her 8 bedtime). After she calls out for me from her room, I come back and sit down with her for a little while. This probably helps keep her awake, but I don’t know what else to do. I tell her a few stories. After stories she wants me to sing. I can’t recall the complete lyrics to many songs when I am not hearing them (it’s a weird problem I didn’t know that I had until she was born and I wanted to sing to her), but she requests songs from my small catalog.
“Sing ‘I’m fat,’” she requests. That is, unfortunately, one of the limited songs I know the lyrics to.
I sigh, and softly sing, “Your butt is wide, but mine is, too.”