Thursday, June 7, 2012


Olivia, a.k.a. The Fastest Mouth in the West
Sometimes, writers have been known to embellish or exaggerate a little bit, for the sake of the story. But what I'm about to tell you is in no way enhanced.

I spent the day with my daughter today, and she did not stop talking. Ever.

She's a girl, she's 8, she's got a memory like a steel trap, she's extremely opinionated, and she's the youngest in a family of five looking for valuable airtime. These five elements, combined, produce enough material to keep stories, comments, and declarations coming, rapid fire, for at least six hours straight. Confirmed, today.

I'm leaving town on Friday for four days, so I wanted to make sure we had some quality time together before I go. So while the boys were at Sunsplash (they'd rather rock the waterslides than shop for travel sized toothpaste - frankly, I would too), Liv and I spent some time noodling around the shops looking for the few things I needed for my trip. And it is safe to say that between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when I dropped her off at ballet, there was not more than 10 consecutive seconds of dead air at any given time.

I tried so hard to engage at that level. She is a pro. Tried to be interested and responsive to everything she was saying. Quality time, right? But as luck would have it,  she is the daughter of a kind of shy, quiet mom. (I'm beginning to think there may be a teensy weensy social anxiety disorder involved, but we'll talk about that another time) Too much verbal stimulation, when there are no cocktails involved, sends me into an anxiety induced coma. Even with my own offspring. Um, especially with my offspring.

Add to that the fact that I am mentally preparing for a trip - disaster. It takes me a good half hour to choose an entree off a menu; put me in front of the travel-size shampoo bins and I'm history. Do I need it? Will the hotel have it? Does it come in a 3.5 oz serving? If not, do I need to get a container? All these questions for each item, because I do not want to go to Walmart more than once. So as I concentrate on these critical details...

"Hey Mom! Look at this adorable hair tie. Lily has one just like it. You know what? Lily gets to wear hang down earrings. I loooove hang down earrings. I sure wish I could wear hang down earrings.

"Hey Mom! They have spray sunscreen. I like spray sunscreen so much better than the lotion. Can we go to the pool when we get home?

"Hey Mom! What ride do you think Griffin and Connor are on right now?

"Hey Mom! Do you think we should start to think about school supplies? I can't wait for the fourth grade. I've gotten so tall. I'm almost taller than Mrs. Jimenez. Do you think I'll get Mrs. Jimenez in 6th grade like Griffin and Connor?"

And on. And on. And on.

And every time she interrupts my thoughts I have to start at the beginning again. Okay, I need a container for my spray conditioner, and one for my hairspray, but I need to grab a travel sized can of mousse...

God bless my baby girl. She is just trying to fit it all in. Every last bit. And I'm trying so hard not to blow a gasket.

But the truth is, overall, we're having a lovely day. When she isn't having to jockey for position (Read: she has me all to herself), she doesn't have to employ any of the irritating tactics like whining, tattling, or hollering. And she was so polite, and thoughtful, and made such a concentrated effort to be good. One of those "oh my god, she actually paid attention those 437 times I told her to do that" days. At one point I said something under my breath about spending more than I'd intended, and she very genuinely offered to give me the $1 she had in her wallet. Sweet baby.

So no, I didn't blow a gasket. I took a deep breath, counted to 10, and haphazardly grabbed what I thought I probably needed for my trip. And then we went to Culver's for cheese curds, because I'm not an emotional eater at all.

When it gets right down to it, they just love us so much and want so desperately to please us. And way, way too often, she gets pushed to the side. Again - the curse of the youngest child. When I think about my oldest son's nighttime routine as a little boy, and then think of what hers has been...can you say guilt? Griffin got two stories, in a lap, every night until he was in at least first grade. Olivia was lucky to get three a week. You can throw out 100 different excuses and reasons why, but no matter how you look at it, when the kids grow up and compare ain't gonna look too good.

It's textbook, but it's true, and I know I'm going to try a lot harder to be patient with her, even when it means engaging in a six hour conversation. I can do it...

Love you, sweet pea xx

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