Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Cinderella, Batgirl, and The Case of the Missing Shoe

On Saturday, Lorelei and Phoebe attended a birthday party for two sweet sisters we know. Cinderella also came to the party - as you can see, Phoebe was a little starstruck. 

After Cinderella left in her pumpkin coach, Lorelei suddenly noticed that one of her shoes was missing. They conducted a thorough search of the house, upstairs and down, and the front yard, but it was fruitless. Jason finally decided to just take the girls home and figured we'd get the shoe back later once it was discovered at the bottom of a toy bin or under some piece of furniture. On his way home, he started wondering if, when Cinderella left, her very voluminous skirts had somehow swept the shoe up and to another location - or that it was lodged somewhere in the folds of crinoline.

Once our two princesses were settled in for naptime, Jason and I drew on our vast knowledge of many, many, many hours of detective television shows and examined the photographs he had taken at the party. By zooming in on the background of various shots, we noticed that a photo of Cinderella reading to the party guests at 11:08 showed Lorelei's two shoes in the background, while a posed picture with her at 11:23 only showed one:

Jason recalled that the 15 minutes in question included an activity where Cinderella enlisted the help of the guests to help her retrieve her lost glass slipper. It seemed to be the most likely period when Lorelei's shoe could have gotten lost in the shuffle, and the timeline fit perfectly.

After naptime, we took the girls downtown to the newly reopened library and, as luck would have it, the library had invited a few other princesses to make the celebration extra festive, so it was pretty much Phoebe's best day ever. Even Batgirl was there, reading to a group of kids and posing for pictures. 

I suddenly had an idea - maybe the world of princesses and superheroes was small enough that Batgirl would be able to tell us how to get in touch with Cinderella. I pulled Batgirl aside with the always-useful opening line "Hey, I've got a crazy question to ask you." She looked over her shoulders, then asked me to meet her in her makeshift Batgirl office so our confidential conversation would not be overheard by any bad guys. Once there, I described our case and showed her the photo evidence we had of the missing shoe. "I heard Cinderella was here at the library this morning," I said. "Do you know her?"

Batgirl looked incredulous. "That was me!" she announced. "I guess this Batgirl helmet really does disguise my identity!" Batgirl promised Lorelei that she'd relay the message to "her friend Cinderella" and, as she handed me her superhero business card, that she'd do her best to look for her shoe.
That night, I received an email with one photo attached.

Today, the shoe found its way home with a special little note tucked inside for our real-life Cinderella, who will be much more careful next time about where she leaves her shoes, at least when attending balls at other people's houses. And I've got an idea for a pretty funny kids' book!

Friday, May 6, 2016

but you're the one for me.

After a down-and-dirty sandpie making session this afternoon, I plopped both girls into the bathtub to get squeaky clean before dinner. We were all in a silly mood, so I turned off the lights and tossed some glow sticks in the tub with them, then got out the giant bubble wand to blow at them while they scrubbed. The girls giggled together and Lorelei announced, "This is so fun. I think you're the only mom in the world who would let their kids have such a fun bath time."

I'm sure other moms living on our street have given their kids similar baths, so I'm not under any false impressions about my status as Mother of the Year. But it got me thinking about how my Facebook feed will be flooded this weekend with pictures of adult children with their mothers and captions about how each one, in turn, is the Best Mom in the World. My Instagram feed will also be filled with cellphone snaps of hilariously-answered questionnaires filled out by earnest little preschoolers and kindergartners about the wonderful qualities of their own Best Moms in the World. These pictures, too, will all be captioned in the same way - that they are precious and special and uniquely wonderful snapshots of a mother-child relationship that feels precious, special, and uniquely wonderful, too. For some people, this induces endless eyerolling. For me? I'll be trying to stay offline this weekend to be more focused on my family, but otherwise I would happily "like" and double tap every single one of those posts.

After Phoebe's birth, my aunt sent us a copy of an out-of-print book of poems by Clyde and Wendy Watson called Catch Me And Kiss Me And Say It Again. It has many charming rhymes but our favorite, and the reason (I'm sure) that it was sent, is this one:

Phoebe in a rosebush
Phoebe in a tree
There's many a Phoebe in the world
But you're the one for me.

Naming Phoebe was particularly challenging for us and, though it was a name I loved, there were some initial hurdles to it for me, most notably that I had both a former student and a former colleague with the same name. I worried that I'd always associate the name with those two women first, since I knew them first. In those early days, this poem was a well-timed reminder that this new Phoebe was, of course, My Phoebe, and that has made all the difference.

But now that My Phoebe is also the first Phoebe I think of and those particular fears have lessened, this poem has become a good reminder about the trouble we always encounter with our perception of the world: our own heavily-filtered lens. There are some things in life that are True and Immutable - this I know. There are others where it really is left to the eye of the beholder. Our children are the same, mostly, as children everywhere. They love deeply and want to please us. They stick out their tongues when they are trying very hard to learn something new. They want desperately to have authority over their daily experiences. They mix up words as they struggle to make adult language their own. They are talented and beautiful and clever in our eyes, and believing this about them helps them to become all of those things, too. There are many children in the world, but these two precious souls belong to me. And my love for them and delight in their firsts and funny moments make me hope even more so that every child has someone to cherish them in the same way.

I can't be the best mom in the world, since that title is already held by my own mother, but I'm okay with being seen through the big, beautiful eyes of my very special children, too, and knowing that I'm the one for them. Happy Mother's Day, all.