|Snail in the rain. A, 2010.|
Oldest daughter R and I are sitting at the kitchen table on a windy, rainy Saturday morning. We're the early risers and like to enjoy some quiet time together before the rest of the house stirs.
R has put on some soothing music, perfect on such a morning. Listening to it while looking at the mess outside and sipping on my coffee, I find myself close to bliss (I have to admit bliss comes easily to me. According to Indian spirituality I am probably on the verge of attaining the highest state of consciousness!)
We comment on the nice music. We comment on the stormy weather (even the dog doesn't want to go outside today). We eat slowly, savoring the oatmeal I have prepared with a bunch of raisins, a pinch of cinnamon and a few drops of maple syrup. Yum.
Looking at me with her most serious look on her face, R says: "Mom, what do you say we go for a walk on the beach today? Like right now? And let's bring the dog. Without her leash. Let's not put on any jacket or shoes either. What do you think? Cool idea huh?"
She winks at me.
She then picks a painting her sister has made of 2 polar bears under a sky filled with Northern Lights. "Oh, and look mom, if we meet one of those polar bears, we could play with them, right? Like pet them and have them fetch sticks for us?"
"Yes why not? After all everyone knows polar bears are a sweet, affectionate species!"
We smile at each other.
Lately I've realized how much of my deadpan humor I've passed on to my offspring. They're almost as silly as I am. From the time they could talk they started cracking jokes. It's a work in progress and I am confident that one day the student will surpass the teacher.
There is hardly a serious moment in my days. I never knew the shy, rigid thinking J would become such a clown. But humor and sarcasm are such a good tool to keep negative feelings at bay... and such a fun way to connect with others.
(With the exception of those who always take you at the first level, assuming your silliest comments are actually serious, and concluding that you're plain stupid. What a pain in the bu**, to have to explain to them it was actually a joke! Luckily my family members and closest friends know better.)
R says "Mom, can we talk about something?"
She's been wanting to have more of those mother-daughter conversations lately.
"Yes, of course, what would you like to talk about?"
As I'm waiting for her answer I put my nose in my cup of coffee, blow, and look up with my glasses covered with fog. "Hey, R, look!"
(Told you I couldn't remain serious for more than a minute.)
R smiles patiently. It's not always easy to have a goofy mom.
We move on to a serious (really) conversation on the (unhealthy) quest for perfection, and touch upon an array feminist-y topics like "brains are more important than looks", "how to embrace self-respect in those times of hyper-sexualization", and the like. I find that all issues can be raised as long as you remain age-appropriate, and R always amazes me with the maturity of her comments.
I look at R with loving eyes:
- Do you know that of all the 9 year old girls I know you're one of the most extraordinary? Actually, you're THE most extraordinary. Aren't I lucky that of all the little girls in the world I got you, who are so special?
- How many 9 year old girls do you know, mom?
(Sheesh! She already operates from a scientific mind like her dad and grand-dad! There's no fooling this girl!)
- Well, I've met a lot in my life. Especially when I was a 9 year old myself...
... but really, I have to say you've become an amazing young lady. When you were a baby sometimes I looked at you and wondered if you would become a terrible monster or a wonderful girl. On any day it seemed like it could go either way (she was quite a handful as a baby). But see? I have my answer now. You've become the wonderful girl.
- Just like in the Ugly Duckling story.
- Yes. Except in your case it was the Evil Duckling (she was very much of a handful!)
We laugh and hug each other.