"How was gan today, sweetheart?"
"Ima, what did you bring me?"
Okay, I thought as I handed her a small treat and started pushing the stroller up the hill towards my building. It's okay. She doesn't have to tell me right away. It doesn't mean that she had a bad day, it just means that she wants her treat. A habbit, by the way--a treat after gan every day--that I have no idea how it started nor have I the foggiest how to stop it. So for now, it continues.
I made lunch, managed not to wince as every toy in the house crash landed on the floor in Princess' new manic phase that lasts roughly from the second she tantrums her way through the door after gan until, oh, I would say ten minutes after bedtime. Ya know. FOREVER.
But. Back to the moment. Throwing toys. Ima smiling, giving everyone lunch. Yes. Then, after Princess ate half of her lunch and fed the rest of it to our Hamster, we read a book. I hugged her. She hugged me back. I melted all over the couch like warm butter on top of a stack of pancakes. Then--
"So I told a girl about how Coco-pop turned 2."
"Oh! Is this girl a friend of yours?"
"NO. Because while I was talking she said to another girl, 'let's not listen to her. Let's go away.' And then they went away."
"Oh. That must have made you feel very bad."
"They didn't want to hear what I was saying. They stopped me in the MIDDLE. And I was left all alone."
Princess looked up at me with my own eyes, and just like that, I am a little girl again. And such a shy little girl. So shy, I stammer. Only in school. I would sit in class and doodle, and dream. Social interaction was something to watch and wonder about. This lasted until 5th grade, when I decided that being popular was like a science, a formula to figure out. I figured it out. I cracked the code. I became wildly popular for one year. Then promply lost interest.
But before that...it was painful. I was an open book, all my pages unread. "Why are you so insecure?" my mother used to say half to me, half to herself, perhaps not realizing that reading 20 books a week had led me to understands the meaning of words such as "insecure." (also some other words which I would never ever use, you understand, but were a lot of fun to think VERY LOUD.) "Why are you so insecure? You are so beautiful." As if being beautiful would make others love me. As if being beautiful would make me love myself.
A memory...standing on the porch of my summer bungalow, rocking the ancient structure wih my grief. "Ima! Ima! They--they!--listen to what they are singing!"
Because the two other girls in the bulgalow colony that were my age were standing on the porch of the bulgalow next door and singing a song that can make me cry even now, if I would think about it for too long. (and helped along with some hormone juice and also it helps if I gained a pound or two that day.)
Here I present to you, untarnished by age, unfettered by literary style, the song of Mean Girls everywhere:
But we're NOT D's friend
We're friends forever
Just us two
But NOT D's
I think it was picked up by a major studio, by the way.
But let us woosh right back to my daughter, 20 years later. I will leave the little girl me, holding on to the railing of her rotten porch because her knees won't support her. Histroy does not have to repeat itself, and besides, doesn't Princess know how BEAUTIFUL she is?
"Princess, when someone says something like that to you, that's a clear sign that she's probably not someone that you want to be friends with. It probably means that you should choose a different friend."
"Yeah, because she's kinda silly. Because I was still talking."
"Yeah, kinda silly."
"..so, can I have a treat because what she said made me sad?"
Associate food with comfort? Yeah, why not. Who am I kidding? "Okay, but a small treat. And then we'll go to the park. And find a friend who talks nicely."
And then the next day I found out that the Mean Girl is just a Sad Girl because she had been best friends with Rochelli, the little girl in my neighborhood who died so tragically this summer.
Which made me think over a whole bunch of things, really.