Where to start with this girl?
I say that I understand Connor, that he has the same tendencies as his middle-child-mother. That he has the heart of a dreamer, and likes to imagine the day away. I get that. When I watch him, I can almost feel the similarities I had when I was his age. I can sense the same emotions, and understand his frustrations and thought process. He’s a free-spirit, a little artist, and the farthest thing from a concrete thinker. And then, there’s his twin sister.
Nora, well, I honestly don’t understand her in the same way. For one, she’s much nicer than I was at her age. She’s without nuance or sarcasm, and the ethereal does not compute with her. She’s so literal, it’s baffling. For me, to get inside her thought process is like trying to understand a foreign language. Oh, she has an imagination- but it always involves the literal. The possible. Real occurrences. There’s no Walter Mitty complex with this girl. It doesn’t always make sense to me. For her, everything is concrete. She takes things as they look, accepts things for exactly how they are said. There are no intuitive conclusions from her. It’s not that she’s unintelligent; quite the opposite. But she does have a bit of the Amelia Bedelia about her. In fact, when she reads those books, we have to explain why they are funny.
And oh, do I love her for it. It’s so innocent. Uncomplicated. And there is a part of me that thinks it must be so much nicer and less stressful to see life the way she does. She’s kind-hearted to her brothers, wants so badly to please her parents- almost to a fault. She’s unassuming. She lives in a very literal, very uncomplicated world- which makes for some increasingly interesting conversations. (Ask my mother sometime. She has some great stories about conversations with Nora.) How do you teach a child to sense innuendo and sarcasm? And is that something we really want her to comprehend? Let’s just say it’s a good thing that her father can understand her and fills in the many gaps I leave in my wake.
Though I don’t always comprehend her ways, and can honestly say she’s nothing like I was a child, (thankfully), what I do know is she’s my girl.
And that? I will always be thankful for.
We have this door in our back hallway, leading into the mudroom. Its panel is painted as a chalkboard. It’s a high-use door, since it is the opening to our pantry. On it, we write pretty little sayings, and sometimes notes to each other. Lately, I’ve been putting up favorite quotes or sections of poems and books that I love. I told the kids they’re welcome to add special sayings of their own, little quotes that make them smile or inspire them. I waxed on about the importance of writing, and English literature, how emotion can be conveyed in words. I told them that a good book has the potential to change a little part of your life. I even went so far as to say that the book of poems they have- this one, illustrated by Eloise Wilkins- has some beautiful quotes in it, inspirational poems about flowers and childhood and birds singing- poems which would be great for the chalkboard.
Last night, Nora told me she found a really good poem for the chalk board. “I got it from school, Mom. It’s a real poem. It really rhymes. It has emotion, like you said.” So she went to work, diligently writing and erasing, and re-writing. And I forgot about it until this morning when she asked if I had read it. “Oops. Not yet, Nora. I forgot. I’ll be sure to read it in a few minutes.” The bus came, she went to school, and later I went into the back hall and noticed she had written on a big portion at the bottom of the door. I’ll admit, I was excited, thinking that my girl must be developing a love for the ethereal, the intuitive, the deep and beautiful ways of literature. With a smile of anticipation, I sat down on the floor to read what she had written down, what had inspired her, what wonderful words had made her feel emotion.
“My lunchbox sits upon the shelf, I look with longing eyes.
It sits there like a treasure box that holds a great surprise.
The lunch bell rings, I race across, I grab my box and then,
I open it… excitement fades…
Tuna fish again.”
I laughed. And then laughed some more. This afternoon, when she got off the bus, I told her that the poem was funny, that I enjoyed it, that I laughed so hard. Her response?
-”Why? Why did you laugh? It’s a real poem, Mom! A real one!”
-”Oh, Nora, it is a poem, you’re right. I laughed because it was so funny, and cute. I love that you wrote it down. It’s perfect.”
-”It was funny?!! Why?! Did you laugh because the child was so excited and anticipating it, and then she was like, devastated?”
-”Sure, Nora. I guess.”
-”I didn’t think it was funny. I didn’t like that she was devastated, Mom! That’s not cute.”
Oh, I love her to BITS. It’s a fun life to live with her in it.