Nurture Her Nature

Don’t Let Me Down

This past week our local school district announced the date for the kindergarten open house and registration. It happens every year and certainly shouldn’t be noteworthy except that this year it is Maddie’s open house. Yes, Maddie is going to kindergarten this year, and I am forced to acknowledge that Maddie is actually growing up. Maddie, on the other hand, has acknowledged it, is having a great time developing her own style, and has left her younger years behind her.

As a part of her new self she has started to enjoy music. I have such great memories of sharing and listening to my music with my mom when I was younger and so was very excited about this development. So far, Riley has gravitated toward the teen pop side of the world. It might be awhile before we get on the same page. Maddie, however, has enjoyed select Disturbed songs and, if it’s pop, it’s going to be Lady Gaga for her. She was my hope.

Unbeknownst to me, however, my mom started lessons on music culture during her commutes with them to gymnastics class. Her first lesson – the Beatles. Tapping into Maddie’s interest, Mom introduced the band by stating that 2 of the 4 were deceased. Between the insect reference and this, Maddie was all ears.

I should note that I am not a Beatles fan. I can understand their influence, but their music doesn’t strike any chord with me. When I learned that the girls were listening to them with their grandma, my only thought was “Thank goodness I don’t have to do it.”

That is, until this past Friday.

It started like any other morning. Here Comes the Sun and we were out the door for dropoffs. Maddie was heading to the academy and Riley to Grammys due to a two-hour school delay.

That morning Maddie woke up feeling particularly mature and living A Day in the Life of a five-year-old.  She wanted to express herself through her clothes and insisted that her outfit be black, all the way down to her socks. After grabbing the drab assortment and watching her admire her new favorite color, I couldn’t help but refer to her as “The Mad in Black,” and, of course, we then had to talk about the great Man in Black, Johnny Cash.

Taking the same tactic as my mom and playing to Maddie’s dark side, I introduced Johnny by playing his Folsom Prison Blues.

She gave it a few verses but in the middle interrupted the legendary tune and said, “Mom, have you ever listened to the Beatles?”

“Yes,” I stated, hoping to get back to the tune.

“They are more better writers,” she stated with certainty.

I was heartbroken. The Beatles over Johnny Cash? Who was I raising? What was wrong? In my mind I had to repeat, She Loves You over and over and remind myself that surely it was phase. Surely, We Can Work It Out.

As we walked into daycare, all I could think about was the little girl she used to be. When she would look up at me and say, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” But, today it was Hello Goodbye and she was off. We wouldn’t Come Together today.

Leaving daycare felt like Sunday Morning Coming Down . Imagine, my kid, a Beatles fan. I had only one person to blame. My mom. Driving to drop Riley off at her house, I tried to stay calm. Don’t Bring Your Guns to Town, I reminded myself when I thought about the confrontation. Then again, she bought a Ticket To Ride this particular train.

My disappointment circled like a Ring of Fire in my mind, but as I told her the story, all my mom had was a good laugh. She knew she had won.

Yes, that little girl is becoming her own. Hopefully we can get her music taste back on track. One Piece at a Time.

The Talk. Kinda.

Story is nine and a passenger on the nonstop puberty train of tears. I’ve been thinking about how to have the sex talk with her. I’m a pretty open person and have no qualms about talking body parts and functions. I just wasn’t sure how to open the conversation. Well, Story did it for me. With lizards.

On our way home one evening, she told me about a video she watched about lizards. Apparently, there was a portion of the video during which the lizards were mating.

“Mom, I know how lizards mate.”

“Oh yeah? Tell me about it.”

“The male gets on the female’s back and bites her neck. That’s how the male’s DNA gets into the female for the eggs.”

A perfect opening! Confident that I had this in the bag, I began my spiel in earnest. “That’s not how the DNA is transferred. DNA is transferred when the male inserts his penis into the female’s vagina and–“

“Are you serious?! That’s how animals have sex?”

“Yes, people too, and–“

“That is so gross! I am never having sex!”

Smiling to myself, I was happy to hear this but amused at her insistence. Oh, how things would change one day. “But there is more to it.”

“OHMYGOSH, Mom, is that how you and Dad had me?”

“Yes …” We were getting off track here.

Before I could think of how to get us back to the facts of sex, she asked, “Why was he biting her neck?”

Without thinking, I said, “Probably to keep her still.”

She thought about this. I panicked. What am I saying? “Sex isn’t a bad thing though.”

She wasn’t convinced. “I don’t think I’d like it. Do you regret it?”

Trying to be honest and open, like I had planned back before this awful conversation began, I said, “Yes, I regret a few times. But, not all. Definitely not all.”

“Do you regret having sex with my dad?”

“Of course not! Then I wouldn’t have had you.”

This conversation was done. I needed to regroup. I ended on a positive note, and now I just needed to keep my mouth shut and pray she changed the subject.

I confessed to Ali later. Of course, she thought it was hilarious and was appropriately scandalized at the lizard rape. I tried to think of ways to fix it. Her response to every single idea was: No. I will fix it though. Maybe a book?

Really, I think it was the lizard’s fault.

An Introduction to Theater

It is two days before Christmas, and our traditions are in full swing. The elf has been cleverly hidden each day, our advent calendar has seen treats depart, and many batches of toffee have been made. Yesterday, however, we departed from our tradition and added a first-time experience to our lineup of activities. At Maddie’s request, we attended our first full-length play at an actual theater.


Home for the Holidays

Every year, Story and I go down to my parents’ house for Christmas. My sisters are there, too, and we all spend the night, eager for Santa to come. Yes, we may be adults, but our stockings are still stuffed with goodies on Christmas Day. This year, however, Story and I are staying home. Due to scheduling conflicts, we won’t be able to visit until New Year’s Eve. At first, I was excited, then I panicked. 

We don’t have a Christmas tradition at our house. We have always followed my parents’ tradition happily. Should I continue to do that? Or should we do something new since we are in a different place on Christmas morning? What will Story expect? And can I live up to that expectation?

To find the answers, I turned to the tradition expert: Ali. I pummeled her with questions about her Christmas morning tradition, and of course, it’s magical. So I will copy part of it for sure, but I feel like I need something that is ours — not a carbon copy of my parents’ or Ali’s.

So, friends, help a mama out. I’m looking for suggestions. Do any of you have a Christmas tradition you’d like to share? As this is our first Christmas at home, I want it to be memorable. Please and thank you! Now, go!