The world does not bend to do your bidding. Sometimes, you have to accept that you don’t get what you want. This is what I want to tell her, but she is only twelve and she needs to feel like maybe the world should bend to her will. Maybe she does deserve to get everything she wants, and more. She is as stubborn as her mother, maybe even more. And she can hold a grudge. For a long time.
Once, when she was still small enough to have to be zipped into a sleeper (backwards, so that she couldn’t take it off in the middle of the night), she bit me. Hard enough to leave red teeth marks that would turn quickly to a large, dark purple bruise, almost in the shape of a kiss. Almost. When I recovered from my shock and pain, I asked her why? What had I done to deserve that? She looked at me and calmly said, “You used the nose sucker.” More than ten hours prior to the Great Bite, I had tried my best to clear her congestion with the teal nose sucker that we had brought home from the hospital with us. Clearly, that would be the last time.
She came into this world on her own time, as most babies are apt to do, but she really did seem to command the universe’s attention. Her birth story is full of drama and edge-of-your-seat twists and turns, and she took a long (looong!) time to make the decision to arrive. When she did, there was a winter storm that took off part of the siding from our house, allowing a family of squirrels to take up residence in the attic before we had even returned from the hospital. Her first few weeks of life were shared not just with family, but with Randy the Squirrel Guy, who came every morning to check the have-a-heart traps, taking out the little rodents and leaving behind fresh traps. Squirrels, not surprisingly, became her spirit animal. Really.
When she was three, she wanted to be a squirrel. At four, she answered the quintessential question asked by most adults saying, nonchalantly, that she would be a squirrel when she grew up. By the time she realized that this was not a legitimate career path, she started feeding squirrels in our front yard; we would put bird seed in the bird feeders and she would sprinkle a fair amount on the ground for the squirrels. This past year, we have watched the squirrels fly around the obstacles she has put out to protect the bird feeders and we have watched them try to master the intricate food placement that she has left to entertain them (and us). Currently, there are two or three bagels hanging from the large red maple tree in our front yard (and the bird feeders are often breached by the squirrels’ ingenuity).
There is more, but those are stories that still need to stay in the privacy of our small family.
I know that there will be fights, battles — wars even — as we make our way through her adolescence and beyond, but I also know that she will continue to amaze me. And make me laugh. Maybe she will figure out how to be a squirrel when she grows up. If anyone can figure out how to make that happen, it is her.