Monday, May 31, 2010

Bragging Rights

"There is only one pretty child in the world, and every mother has it." ~Chinese Proverb

How many Pez candies can you eat in one sitting? I'm not talking about a dare, here. Someone offers you a Pez... can you eat just one? Wouldn't you have a hankering for a second? Maybe? Why not, right? It's a little cube of fruity sugar. Who would say no to that? Who wants just one of anything?

Who? My daughter. That's who. She not only eats one Pez... she asks for one Pez! "Daddy, after dinner may I have one?" That's right. One. One is a victory for her. It's enough. Her craving is satisfied.

She saves. She savors. She enjoys

Penelope received a box set of Wizard of Oz Pez dispensers for Christmas. One of my sisters - herself a mother of three - thought this was an appropriate gift. You can't blame her - since every time she would ask my daughter what she wanted for Christmas, Penelope would say, "Candy. A lot of it." What makes that response even funnier is that Penelope does not eat a lot of candy, even though it's right there. In the box. Out in the open. Still in the package from Christmas. Waiting to be eaten. All the little heads. All lined up: Dorothy and Scarecrow, Lion and Tin Man, The Good Witch and the Bad Witch, even the Wizard himself and Toto too. Five months after Christmas, there was still plenty of leftover Pez.


My wife spotted a couple of boys ravaging the Pez during a barbecue we hosted over Memorial Day weekend. They discovered the candy, and nearly decapitated some of the characters in their frenzied attempt to consume as much as possible before they were caught. Tiny fistfuls of tiny candy causing tiny pink drool droplets on tiny chins. They weren't being bad. They were being kids! Just not my kid.

She saves. She savors. She enjoys.

She asks for one. One Pez. One chip. One cookie. "Daddy, after dinner may I please have one?" Yes, she can eat just one! She even quantifies it with "after dinner." How good is she? On the other end of the spectrum, after the Memorial Day Massacre, four of the eight characters are now empty.

At the same backyard barbecue, Penelope had to walk away from the shenanigans unfolding at her beloved sand/water table because it was just too rowdy, ridiculous, and rough for her to comprehend. The kids had combined the water and sand and made a huge pile of mud and were throwing it at each other and everyone else. The entire area was caked in wet sand, prompting my wife to inform me as I was grilling, "The other moms asked me to shut down the sandbox." Never before, in my wildest imagination (and it's pretty wild) would I ever conceive using that group of words to form a complete, coherent, and competent sentence that would be so relevant to my existence.

Penelope wanted nothing to do with that crazy scene. Throwing things at people is not her bag. She might be messy but she's not destructive. Once again, kids just being kids. Making a mess, having a good time, getting into some trouble. Just being kids. Just not my kid.

By no means is my daughter perfect. She's moody, irrational, and at times difficult (it's like looking into a cute little mirror sometimes). But she's not wild. She's not malicious. She's not misbehaved. She is messy, calculating, and stubborn.

When Penelope makes a mess, it's more like controlled chaos. She'll line all of her dolls face down on a kitchen floor, put them to sleep, each with a little toy to sooth them. Sometimes it's a pile of handkerchiefs that she uses as 'blankets for her babies' sitting in a heap in the middle of the family room. Or she'll put her play food all over the house, spread it through several rooms, separate it by category because she's pretending she's food shopping. The problem is, you can't clean up the messes. "I like my messes," she says. So, I often have to navigate through these child-made obstacle courses in order to cook dinner or make my way to the garage. Any attempt to disperse with the chaos could be met with a tantrum.

So it's not all wine and roses with our little girl... but then again... we've never had to child-proof anything. We've never had to hide the valuables or put them out of reach. We've never had to worry about her getting into anything, because she doesn't. You tell her something once, and she listens. She doesn't do it again. She's a good kid. My kid. She's darn near one of the best behaved kids in all of kid-dom.

Still, as I write this, I hear her upstairs crying, getting scolded by my wife for not listening to her.  Like I said, by no means is my daughter perfect. But she's pretty darn close.

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