Does a Wonderland Alice mood ever strike you? Yes? Well. Twas Brillig and The Slithy Toves, I just have to say. Whatever that means.
My eldest daughter trips in and out of our home at random, rare intervals.
She appears from nowhere with a jingle of her car keys/charms/trinkets, usually looking pleased with herself and somewhat expectant (“Here I am! I drove all by myself in my own little car to get here! Aren’t you so tickled to see me?”). I have no doubt that for her, it’s a wondrous thing to have launched (for me, a little otherworldly…but I am very pleased with her too, it turns out).
Which she’s done, officially (launched). Out of our home (at first, in painful fits and starts), and now, even out of town. She just found an apartment in Salt Lake, a job. A plan for a career, a boyfriend. She has developed her own shopping lists, her own opinions about the economy of cheese. And it was only a couple of years ago that she had a curfew and chores assigned by her parents.
Of course she looks pleased with herself.
A few days ago I was weeding and puppy sitting in the backyard
(it’s at least as tricky as it sounds) when suddenly, there she was, with her very nice boyfriend in tow. Jingle jingle. I was taken with the difference in their appearance. He: coolly conservative; hands in pockets. College Boy on his day off from work (khaki shorts, perfect fitting T). She: fervent, whimsical, and somewhat burl-&-Tim Burton-esque (corset top, fuzzy gray leopard tuke, short shorts, slivered leggings, tall red boots).
(Tangent: Turns out she’d dropped by to see if we were planning anything special for her birthday. Nothing like gentle reminders…)
I was slow to learn to allow this daughter the freedom to dress herself. My excuse: she is my oldest. There’s a gigantic learning curve with first children (partly due to inexperience; after all, this is the first, and partly due to the fact that many parents begin with brains still slightly adolescent). But eventually, oh so gradually, I clumsily embraced the concept of childhood autonomy (another excuse: her love affair with hats began at around 3 years of age, when anything would do for a hat if she could get it on her head—including her underwear.)
Once A Pond A Time (my second daughter’s younger version of a story’s beginning),
I unpacked a box of clothes that my first and second daughters had outgrown several years before. I was looking for hand-me-downs for the third sister I think. Anyway, as I opened the box, I rediscovered a Wonderland wrapped in the not so gently worn treasures inside (Sizes 5 to 7). The clothes were clean of course, but somehow, boxed as they had been, the scent of them filled me with sharp longing. I could smell my daughters, at an age that was no longer theirs…or mine. Though I was driven and hectic at the unboxing moment (we were in the throes of house building, board by board), I lingered with almost-grief over each piece as I took it out of the box, remembering. What I loved about the too-small-now clothes wasn’t how they looked…it was that they’d covered my girls’ bodies as they explored, climbed, giggled, snuggled. Rocked the swingset from the topmost height til it tumbled down, pretending to be monkeys—instead of swinging sedately. Made dolls out of iris leaves (oh they were smart), carried baby grasshoppers inside green apricots, like small change in a coin purse (Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimbol in the wabe). I missed those little bodies, that relatively safe time (amazingly, the swingset toppled in slow motion, Michaelyn riding it all the way down).
And I understood better that of all the things we want our kids to know, the one that matters far and away beyond the others: that they are loved.
Sure do love you, Buglet (and the mome raths outgrabe).