Thursday, February 9, 2012

Breakfast conversation with a Pre-pre-pre-teen.

I don’t think I could ever be a “mommy blogger”—I like my kid.  Which I guess says good things about my self-esteem, because sometimes it seems like she’s my clone.  She has her dad’s brown hair, but otherwise, in appearance, in intellect, in temperament, we are incredibly similar.  Her teenage years should be so fun. 

For now, she’s at the age where she wants to be like me.  Before breakfast this morning, she caught me eating a cookie* and refused to eat her eggs, until I told her I already had my egg and showed her the shell.  (My little skeptic—it warms the cockles of my lawyer’s heart.)  When I asked her what she wanted to drink, she said milk, and added under her breath “just like you.”  Way to make the subtext into text, kiddo. 

See recipe below.
I love it when she challenges me.  To the limited extent that parenting even matters, the paramount values I’m trying to instill and promote are: independence of thought, initiative, kindness and emotional stability.  Based on our similarities, I expect that some of these may just be aspirational.  But at least that’s the direction we’re pointing. 

In raising a girl, I’ve had to question some other values that don’t seem quite so good.  I always thought it was best to try everything for yourself, at least once.  Or twice.  If there’s an easy way and a hard way to learn things, I learn the hard way (to learn it better).  I have difficulty learning from other people’s mistakes, much preferring to make my own. 

Except I’m pretty sure there’s a direct line from there to the scene at yesterday’s breakfast.  My beautiful little girl, with her pigtails and her glittery Hello Kitty t-shirt, came to breakfast wielding a lid-off marker and sweetly asked for help, please.  She’d covered both legs with “tattoos” but she wanted one just like mommy, and she couldn’t quite reach the back of her neck.**


Is there any, please God, any possible chance, that the form her teenage rebellion will take is a refusal to lose her damn mind?

Wait, don’t answer that.  I’m not ready for the answer, and besides, when the time comes, I’ll figure it out myself. 


*The cookies are these phenomenally good Dark Chocolate-Chunk Oatmeal Cookies with Cherries and Pecans.  I recommend toasting the pecans immediately before adding them to the batter, adding them last, and then chilling the batter for 30 minutes before scooping so that the hot pecans don’t melt the chocolate.  Also, I frequently swap butter in cookie recipes for butter-flavored shortening, because even though it’s so artificial it makes my skin crawl, it makes the cookies softer and they taste better.  Except this recipe is actually better with straight butter.  I should have known better than to question Cook’s Illustrated.

**I learned a lesson from the tattoo incident, and learnt it good and hard.  I got the stupid thing shortly after my eighteenth birthday—a blue crescent moon wrapped around a kanji figure.  The kanji figure I picked was this one—which means courage, but which I picked out because the shape of it looked like a funny little guy. 

This story is not going to end well.
So I had my hair up when I moved into the Honors College dorm a few months later.  Yes, I was moving into the nerd farm, but I was an edgy nerd now.  

A boy I knew from high school, Lee-Sean*** (whose chemistry homework got at least 7 people passing grades) lived in the room below mine.  I caught him giving me strange looks one day, and he cautiously asked to see my tattoo.  I suppose I thought he was intimidated by my new-found bad-assery. 

Except when I held my hair up high so he could get a closer look, he breathed a huge sigh of relief.  Because, he caught a glimpse before but couldn't quite see the whole thing with my hair in the way.  And it turns out that the little triangle on top?  That changes the meaning quite a bit.  This kanji character:


The lesson:  Don't take myself too seriously.   

Because with a tattoo this stupid, no one else is going to!

***Huh.  Turns out Lee-Sean has a blog.