our obligatory back-to-school post (but this one is pretty good)

You might have noticed that The Family has been MIA. Not actually MIA, so don’t go making any phone calls. But seriously, how funny would that be:

Operator: 9-1-1, what’s the emergency?
Dear Reader: I want to file a missing people report. The Family has been too quiet lately.
Operator: Your family?
Dear Reader: No. The Family. I haven’t heard much from The Mama in the last couple of months.
Operator: Your Mama?
Dear Reader: Hey, you don’t have to be rude!
Operator: No, I mean your mother.
Dear Reader: Huh? Oh, no, not my Mama, The Mama. And The Kidling!
Operator: The killing? Is someone hurt?
Dear Reader: No! The KiDling. My favorite kid who I haven’t ever actually met. I know she talks nonstop, and I haven’t heard a peep from her all month. I’m a little worried.
Operator: Okay. We can send an officer out to do a welfare check. What is their address?
Dear Reader: The Family lives in Our Town, The Middle. Oh, and don’t forget to check on The Pup while you are there.
Operator: (silence)

Which is all to say that you might not know what is going on in Our Life. A brief summary: we had school, then it was summer, and now it isn’t.  Now that you are all caught up…

Without going into too much detail, The Kidling has been feeling pretty under the weather. Nothing serious, but she has been sick in that way that includes both naps and steroids. In other words, she was about as ready for bed last night as I am after my third espresso. So, after her shower, we went for a walk. Accompanied by a moonlit sky and striped pajamas, The Mama, The Kidling, and The Pup meandered around the neighborhood until we landed at her school. We walked through the open field past the playground, stopping to count windows in order to determine which teacher was still there working so late into the night. Once we had figured it out, this child of mine–

the same child who told me her retirement plans by December of her kindergarten year. The one who, just weeks before this summer was to begin, looked her teacher square in the eye and told her, “I’m sick of learning, I’m sick of working, and I’m sick of talkin’ about readin’!”

 –gazed up at the three-story brick building, eyes bright in the moonlight, and said,(sigh) I love this place.”

I do, too.

The Kidling and The Pup

The Family recently grew by one member. No, I did not produce any more precocious progeny; this time, I bought it. The progeny. Of a dog.

We got a dog.

This was an ongoing conversation in our home, with The Kidling actively involved. We looked at old dogs, puppies, and middle-aged dogs. Rescues and breeder pups. Near and far. When I finally found a pup I was genuinely enamored of, I showed The Kidling a picture.

She flipped.

Cries of When can we get her?! and How many days is that?!?!? filled every waking moment at Our House. I deferred and deflected while working out a plan, then I did something new.

I lied.

“I am working with the woman who has her, Kidling. I think we can get her sometime next week,” I assured her.

The covetous response was overwhelming. More pleading, this time with Can we get her as early as possible next week? and How many days is that? erupting from her 6 year-old mouth with angst befitting a child 7 years her senior. I explained the approximate amount of time that would be, stressing that it was really just an estimate, as we were still figuring out the details.

Pants on fire, Mama. Pants on fire.

I had a plan. Damn genius, if you ask me. You see, The Kidling was spending the weekend with The Grandma, and I made plans to get that sweet little bundle of fur the day before The Kidling returned to Our Town. I would drive to the agreed-upon location to pick The Kidling up, she would be so so so happy to see me, then TA-DA the pooch would prance up accompanied by squeals of glee, lick The Kidling’s sweet face, and we would all live happily ever after (yes, I am ignoring the teen years in this scenario. Sue me.)

The cutest dog in the entire world lives in Our House. Coincidentally, so does the cutest (and smartest) child.

The cutest dog in the entire world lives in Our House. Coincidentally, so does the cutest (and smartest) child.

The big day arrived. There was a minor kink in the form of a freaking monsoon that made its way across the Middle U.S. that afternoon, but otherwise, the plan went off without a hitch. Her face registered shock and delight in that beautiful moment where she first laid eyes on The Pup. Joy radiated from every tiny kidling pore as we loaded up the car and drove back toward Our Town.

I basked in The Kidling’s reaction, watching and feeling and hearing evidence of her bliss. “Do you like her?” I asked knowingly, as the car rolled down the rain-soaked highway.

I like her even better in person—I mean—in animal!”

Yes, The Kidling has met her new best friend.

 

vegetable kings and protein princes

“Mom, what can I have for snack?” The Kidling inquired at bedtime, every child’s favorite time to realize her need for sustenance. “I want yogurt. And cheese!”

“No, Sweetie you can’t have them both. They are in the same food group.”

“They are?” she asked. “Oh yeah!” she quickly recalled, “Dairy Queen.”

inner beauty

Oh, beauty.

I have written about the topic on these pages before. Beauty is more complicated than I would like for it to be, but it is something that we all have to handle. Parents in particular. I try (and try and try) to ensure The Kidling understands that beauty is, in fact, superfluous. That other things–that all other things–are more important. We praise her for important characteristics: kindness, hard work, ingenuity, generosity, strength, courage. I am so adamant about praising her for commendable behaviors and attributes that it occurred to me last week that I could not recall the last time I had shared glowing words about her appearance.

Well, other than growling, “I love your face!” at her. But we all know that “I love your face” is really a commentary on the fact of her face. I love that she has a face. I love that she is. Always.

Well, almost always.

Knowing that I have likely been remiss in completely excluding flattering words about her physical appearance, I complimented her. But I did it carefully.

“Kidling, I know this isn’t what’s important, but you are a beautiful girl,” I told her. She glowed, and I knew that she knew that beauty is more important to the outside world than I let on. I am going to pretend for a moment that this isn’t a result of my not-infrequent primping.

Or the fact that The Kidling said to me last week (in response to my delay getting ready one morning), “Yeah, Mom. It’s not like your hair has to be perfectly fancy.”

As such, when she began to carry on about what makes a person good tonight on the way home, I was delighted to hear her say, “It’s who you are that counts!”

“That’s right,” I gloated agreed. “You mean on the inside?”

“No,” she replied, “on the outside.”

Back to the drawing board.