In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.
The Girl turned three last week.
She's very different from her brother. With The Boy, you can see the man he will be. The adult is clearly visible in the child, and has been ever since he was just a wee sprout. With The Girl, it's harder to picture. She's more baby-ish than he was at this age, and also harder to read.
She's usually quieter than he is, though when provoked, she's capable of pitching some impressive diva fits. She gives great bear hugs, often with a running start – if you've ever seen a catcher jump on a pitcher after a perfect game, you have the idea. She loves to be read to, and to do whatever TB is doing at any given moment.
Like me, her reaction to stress is to limit input. When she falls or otherwise hurts herself, she doesn't want a fuss made. She'll actually show Mommy the hand when Mommy tries to comfort her, since TW comforts by talking. I'll give her a silent bear hug and just sway gently, not speaking, until she gets her composure enough to deal with other people. One introvert to another, I get it. (To her credit, TW has noticed the pattern and adjusted.)
One afternoon last weekend we were at a friend's house, along with some other folks the hosts knew. Among the others was an older couple, I'm guessing 70ish. Before we left, TG insisted on hugging the older man, who was visibly moved by it. She has a way of melting people's defenses. The older ladies at church make quite the fuss over her.
She has a new favorite question -- “are you ginking what I'm ginking?” It's a little unnerving, coming from a three-year-old. So far, we haven't guessed right once.
It's hard to know which toys will be a hit (other than Curious George). Her current fave is a little medical kit one of her friends gave her. She likes to use the stethoscope on her teddy bears. As toys go, I'm all for it. She isn't allergic to girly toys, but isn't especially into them, either. I see a scientist or doctor in her; she has that observant quality.
And a mind like a steel trap. After TB sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” at the stadium a few weeks ago, TG hasn't stopped singing it. She eliminates the contraction -- “three strikes and you are out,” which throws off the phrasing terribly – but somehow makes it work. Once those lyrics are in her brain, that's it.
When she's at home, and it's just us without any guests, she lets her guard down in a way that adults just don't. There's something bittersweet about it. It just doesn't occur to her not to be secure. I know that won't always be true – junior high is secular hell – so I try to savor it now. At home, there just isn't a trace of self-consciousness in her. As an adult, it's easy to forget what it's like to be completely carefree and secure. Reminding us of what that feels like is a gift she gives to us. Letting her continue to feel that way is a gift we try really hard to keep giving to her.
This Fall she starts preschool. She's more than capable, but I still have trouble imagining it. It will be the first of many steps – a small one, but an important one – she takes into the world. I know she'll be great, and we'll be rooting for her. But we'll miss the way that her whole world can be a safe and secure home, filled only with people who love her.
Happy birthday, TG.