No matter where we are, no matter what her wardrobe consists of, Marlo is perpetually cold when eating. She spends most of her meal complaining, violently shivering to assist getting her point across which, as you can imagine, makes her the worlds most pleasurable dinner companion. She could be cloaked in a fur jacket and snow boots and she would still find it too cold for her, somehow managing to sit positioned under the one air vent in the entire restaurant.
"Why can boys not wear shirts at the beach but I have to? I don't have boobs to feed a baby yet because I'm a kid, not a grown-up, so I'm not going to wear one either. Okay, mama?" Okay, Mo, you little feminist-in-the-making, you. PS. You make me so proud.
More than anyone in the world, Marlo is skilled at forcing me to examine just how full of shit I am. Case in point: I've always believed that she should be in charge of making decisions involving her person. From letting her decide when she was ready to get a hair cut and how she wanted it to look to being able to decide when she would get her ears pierced, if it's on her body, I've always said that I would let her be in charge of making the decision (within age-appropriate reason of course). I made the cardinal mistake of assuming that I'd have years before being forced to practice what I preach. I forgot that she's Mo and, if anything, the walking and talking reminder that I have zero control over who she is quickly becoming. She wants pink hair. She wants to get her ears pierced for Christmas. She wants to wear lipstick anytime we leave the house. RED LIPSTICK. She wants to wear a shirt that shows her belly because she "thinks her belly button is the cutest belly button ever." I'm so out of my league here and counting down the days until I play the because I said so card.
She recently asked me when colder weather was coming. I told her not for another couple of months and she looked relieved. "Mo, do you not want cooler weather to come?" "Of course not, mama." Okay. "Why not, Mo?" "Mom, I am dreading colder weather because then I'll have to wear pants and I do not believe in wearing pants. Girls wear skirts and I am a girl. And pants itch." I just shook my head and decided to save this battle for another time.
"Why is your boov* thing so big, mom? Will my boov thing be big one day, too?" I'm not sure if that's meant to be a compliment or a hint that I need to get myself to the gym. You'll thank me for that boov thing one day, Mo. *Boov is what she calls butts. She picked it up from the movie Home and I find it much more endearing than any alternative.
I've been reassured that most toddlers are like this but I fear that Marlo is a hypochondriac. She so much as sneezes, she's convinced that she has the bubonic plague. She wakes up at least once a week and before she's even half way down the stairs, she tells us that she was "the worst headache ever" and needs to spend the day resting and therefore can't go to school or camp or errands unless the errand is Target in which case she is magically better and even has enough energy to throw a tantrum because I won't buy her some obnoxious toy that she doesn't need. We buy band-aids in bulk to cover invisible boo-boos that she demands to go to the hospital for. She will inform us that she has somehow broken her wrist which is almost always conveniently timed with when I ask her to pick up her toys or make her bed or brush her teeth before bed. Now that I think of it, she may not be a hypochondriac as much as she's a neurotic mastermind determined to get out of any task or chore she doesn't feel like doing.
"Whatevs, Mom." I'm sorry, what?! You're four. STOP.
She still misses Brooklyn and her best friend there. Almost weekly, she asks me why we had to move to North Carolina but assures me that she's starting to really like it even though she likes DUMBO better. I have to hold back tears every time and keep myself from feeling guilty. It hasn't been the easiest transition for her but it's definitely getting better.
Over the July 4th holiday, we watched our next door neighbor's dog while they were on vacation. I made sure to include Mo when tending to him because I want her to understand that having a pet is a big responsibility. Mo has always been extremely task oriented so it should've been no surprise that she took the job VERY seriously. She came home a few nights ago from playing with their daughter a few dollars richer and this is the conversation that ensued: "Mom!!!! Mom!!! Mr. Tom gave me so many moneys!!!" He did!? What for? "Mom, don't you remember? I took care of Smith for them and I did a great job so I got the moneys." That's awesome babe. Do you know what you're going to do with the moneys? "Yes! I'm taking you out for ice cream because you helped unlock their door for me to feed Smith because I'm too short and you threw the ball for him when I didn't want to touch it because it was slobbery and dirty and you picked up his poop. You want to get ice cream with me? You gonna get chocolate, vanilla, or coffee?" She may pick and choose when to be generous and genuinely kind-hearted but it never fails to take my breath away when she is.
Since she was around three and a half, most of her curiosity revolves around gender roles. Raising egalitarian and open-minded kids is a responsibility I take very seriously, especially given the current social and political climates they are growing up in. We were in the car on the way to camp a few mornings back and this was our lesson of the day: "Mom. So what you're saying is that boys and girls can do whatever they want, right?" That's right, Mo. "So boys can wear make-up or be princesses or paint their nails or wear jewelry or buy pretty skirts and that's okay?" If it makes them happy, then yes, absolutely, it's okay. "I think I would be best friends with a boy if he did all dat stuff mama. He'd be so happy and I'd be so happy and we could play dress-up together but not my Elsa dress. That one is special to me so I won't share that with anyone, even a happy boy. We'd could make friendship bracelets though. Wouldn't that be so nice?" Kids have a way of taking intimidating topics and proving that it's not as complicated as many of us make it out to be.
Marlo often reminds me that very rarely do kids give a single fuck about anything other than being happy and being a part of what makes other people happy. If only the rest of the world could catch on...