Sunday, April 03, 2011

Cupcakes for dinner and other shared traits

She couldn't keep her hands out of her hair. Or maybe she couldn't extract her hands from her hair. Her knotted, bedraggled hair.

Realizing the finer point of distinction, such as it is, I find it hard to tell. I try to smooth it, saying her hair needs some kind of protein salve or cream rinse or some other product of detanglement that has thus far eluded me, too.

"Leave it be," she says and shoos my hand away.

So I rationalize her smile outshines her lank locks. That's what I tell myself as we are out in the world, just the two of us. My mini me, or so has been marveled by many-a stranger.

"She looks just like you," they'll say with a smile. I wonder if it's the long messy hair that people see in common ... or the clothes that seem to have been selected by covering the closet in kibble and seeing what the dog drags out. It can't be our features or our personalities.

As I look at her, with her easy smile and solid profile, I see each feature in terms of fruit tossed into a salad by the family tree. She has father's eyes and her grandfather's nose. She has one grandmother's hair, and the other grandmother's hands.

I find it curious how all these bits and pieces seem to have played genetic hop-scotch in shaping her, and yet I don't see myself in her at all. Especially in personality, she seems to be my polar opposite.

Yet it's near impossible to put yourself down when someone is comparing you to your child.

She is easy going. Cautious but not shy. Once she's jumped in, I know pulling her out will take all my resolve. "How much do we really need to be home by bedtime?" is a question I've asked myself far too often. We all know who runs the show.

These thoughts and more (like how long can a person go without food before they start to shake and growl and chew at their clothes) were going through my head as Ittybit snaked her way through the crowded Art Center, trying to fill up her passport sheet with stamps from each workshop station.

Drawing, check. Jewelry, check. Printmaking, check. Pottery, check. Swing dance, check. Art installation, check. Music, check.

"Hey, look. ... Cupcakes! Let's go check the kitchen."

I follow her, knowing she is following her own drum beats. And we might get lost along the way.

It's girls' night, after all. And it's a rare event. Time alone with mom usually means bursting into the bathroom unannounced and being shooed out unceremoniously. It might also mean sitting in a darkened room, crying, whilst listening to mom rattle off a laundry list of reasons why playing hide and seek with your brother must include actually going to look for him.

Doing something fun together is as rare as eating cake for dinner.

"Have one," she says, holding up a her creation: A Chocolate Vanilla Delight"

"You'll like it ... it has protein."

I bend down, brush the hair from my own face and take a bite. I don't have to tell her how many times I've eaten cake for dinner.

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