this just sucks

The Kidling: Dad, can I have this lemon Starburst?

The Dada: Sure.

The Kidling: (unwraps neon square. Puts Starburst in mouth. Thirty seconds pass) This lemon sucks.

The Dada: (in disbelief) What did you say?

The Kidling: (repeats herself) This lemon sucks.

The Dada: (thinking The Kidling has been surprised by an unexpected banana Starburst or some similarly disappointing flavor, says sternly) That is not a nice thing to say. You know we don’t say that, right?

The Kidling: Why?

The Dada: Did you hear that from a bigger kid at your summer program?

The Kidling: (solemnly) Yeah.

The Dada: I see. Well, it’s another way of saying that something isn’t very good.

The Kidling: No, Dad. I was saying it’s in my mouth and I’m sucking.

You know I am obsessive about quote accuracy, so let me ensure we are all on the same page here. This exchange occurred while The Mama was traveling for work. Now, while The Dada has an impressive memory, he didn’t write it down.

Notice I said impressive, not obsessive? The former describes The Dada whereas the latter describes… well… you know. Don’t make me say it. Alas, I must be away from The Family now and then. This means I sacrifice the occasional story to the gods of employment.

Yeah, I know. It sucks.

mixed messages

Due to some scheduling issues, I took The Kidling to work with me one recent day. She behaved far, far better than I could have hoped, remaining in good spirits all day, becoming infatuated with a young man in the office who I described as a “rock star helper.”

“Wow,” she exclaimed with stars in her eyes and a voice full of reverence, “I didn’t know he was a rock star.” 

And I didn’t know my five year-old knew what a rock star was.

Later she asked, “Why is he here?” Because goodness knows rock stars don’t hang out in academia.

(Confidential to JMS: this doesn’t apply to you. Obviously.)

So went the day, with The Kidling making new friends, drawing original artwork for new friends (unicorn pegasus, anyone?), and The Mama actually being productive to a degree that I never could have hoped for with a child at my heel. We took several tours around my building to get her little body moving, but otherwise holed up in my office and plugged away: The Mama on work, The Kidling on art.

It was on our return from one of these jaunts about the building that we ran into someone far higher on the totem pole than The Mama. The Kidling was charming and engaging as she spoke with this gentleman who, according to my sources, also happens to be a grandfather several times over. When he asked her what grade she would be in this fall, he offered, “First? Second?”

“Kindergarten!” she replied.  Fancy Worker Man was visibly surprised and commented on how much older he thought she was.

The Kidling nodded knowingly, and reassured him by acknowledging, “I have big legs.”

Big legs, long legs… it hardly matters when your personality is similarly outsized.

on the road again

The Family unpacked a large, steel grey, hard-sided suitcase Sunday evening.

The Mama packed a small, steel grey, hard-sided suitcase on Monday.

Which is to say, it has been busy. Away for a week, home for a day, away for two days, home for a week, away for another week, home for a day, away for five days… but home now. Yesterday, in fact, which makes me happy.

Really eff-ing happy.

And you probably aren’t surprised to learn that The Kidling has an opinion about all of this. When she is in tow, she is delighted by travel. She loves to see new places and will occasionally try new things. When The Mama journeys solo, however, it is an entirely different story. Even though our lives are busy enough that she doesn’t have time to really miss me, she hates the idea that I am leaving without her. Not that I blame her: I am pretty awesome.

So it was that on the eve of my departure, I requested that The Kidling choose me as her bedtime story reader. As parents of an only, The Mama and The Dada do our best to ensure The Kidling is independent, which manifests itself in all sorts of little tricks, like allowing her to choose with whom she spends her time.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, The Mama has a confession. You see, this “who is your story reader tonight?” routine began one evening in the dark ages when The Mama was very, very tired and did not want to spend another moment being thoughtful or awake. I thought the novelty of autonomy would induce her to choose The Dada to read her story that evening. It didn’t, and–if I remember correctly–it took several offers before she chose someone whose first name isn’t “The” and last name isn’t “Mama.” Eventually, though, it worked. I do wonder if she will ever catch on that I only ask that question if I am tired enough to root silently for The Dada as she makes her selection.

Kindly, if begrudgingly, The Kidling accommodated my request, telling me, “Mom, you’re my story reader because you’re approximately the only one up here.”

Thanks.

As if sensing my desire to not tuck her in yet (or smelling weakness), The Kidling had a question for me immediately upon closing the book: “Can I have another story?”

I smiled, “Yes.”

Honing in on precisely my emotion when I made my decision, The Kidling smiled  slyly, saying, “You just want to spend more time with me.”

Ding! Ding! Ding!

Her powers of intuition are uncanny.

Little shit.