It probably had something to do with me being the middle child, (4 years of therapy, ladies and gentlemen) but growing up with nine siblings in a four bedroom house, I spent a few years sleeping in the playroom. I had been downgraded from the kids' room, a great big room (or maybe I was just small?) with two bunk beds and a single bed when the newest baby was born. I was not downgraded alone, though. I served my sentence with my sister. We shared a daybed that had a high riser that we pulled out and yanked up into groaning, cranky, half-hearted position every night. Although the truth is that the bed was probably older than my mother, and I should not make light of my elders, so scratch the previous sentence. We also shared a closet, which also held all of the winter coats and a great big basket of school bags, and we also shared a dresser. We each had three drawers.
During the day, the playroom was, in fact, a playroom, and was therefore played in. By everyone. Did I mention that I have nine siblings? I did, didn't I. It bears repeating. Nine.
So, as one can clearly see, I grew up used to the fact that very little belonged solely to me. It is for that reason, I think, that I still get a tingly feeling in my spine when the school year is about to start and all of the stationary stores' displays go up featuring new, unbent notebooks and fresh pencils and pens. When I got my school supplies in the beginning of the year, they were MINE. My own. No one else's. (and you can't have em! Mwahahahahahaha! Ha?)
This is all a preface that will all tie together brilliantly at the end to what happened yesterday.
I had passed by the toy store, and sitting out front was a pile of boxes of BIMBAS, a little toy car or truck with wheels that a toddler can ride on and scoot along with his/her feet. I had been wanting to get one for Coco-pop for a while, and these were on a good sale, and I had some money on me (meant for vegetables, but who needs vegetables? You don't win friends with salad.) so I bought it. Outdoorsman put it together while Princess and Coco-pop watched. Then Coco-pop spoke.
"Wanna ride Princess' new Bimba."
"No!" I corrected her, smiling. "Booba, it's yours! It's your Bimba!"
Her face screwed up in concentration. Her little fuzzy two-year-old brain turned for a full minute. Then she said, "It's mine Princess' Bimba!"
She could not really comprehend that it was hers. Everything, after all, belonged truly to Princess. Even if it were hers, it was, in essence, Princess'.
When I was pregnant with Coco-pop, I was so worried. I was so intuned to Princess' every move, every thought, every wish. I did not know how I would be able to be there for them both equally.
And you know what? I wasn't. I couldn't be. Sometimes they both cry together and you have to make a choice. Sometimes one is right and one is wrong. Sometimes, you see that one is more sensitive and one is less so and can handle "no" better at the moment.
A second child does not get the same undivided attention as a first one does no matter the intentions of the parent. And the fifth (cough* school supplies *cough) well...
I knew the universe did not revolve around me. I think that Coco-pop knows that she is pretty cute and can get away with pretty much everything when she smiles her beautiful sunshiney smile, but at the same time she, too, know this truth. Princess is convinced that she is the single most important thing that has happened, ever. She draws pictures of the family as three adults, and one tiny baby Coco-pop. (Actually, in her last family portrait, Outdoorsman and Princess had three big strong feet each, and I was a cloud with one eye. And eight arms.I looked like a nearsighted Indian goddess. I wonder what that means.)
Maybe it's healthier. Since the world does not actually revolve around anyone, and is in fact the other way around, maybe it's better than we as mothers cannot always leap the second a need is discovered. Maybe it's okay that they have to repeat themselves sometimes, and have to share. And the pure, unspoiled excitement and astonishement at actually getting something new that is ALL THEIRS--maybe that's a good thing.
Plus, if you're sleeping in the playroom, and you are bored at night, there are all these, you know, toys. To play with.
Coco-pop has been guarding her "my Princess' Bimba" with her life. She has lost some of her best men in the battle. Strollers, dollhouse, dolls; all were allowed to be sacrificed for the cause; keeping both hands on the Bimba and never, ever, letting go.