Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Out of the mouths of Babes!

If you are a Christmas baby like me, you know that the merriment of the season also means its time to pay all your taxes. Since my birthday fell on a Sunday this year I was able to make it to the tag office the following Monday and file without a late fee. Because it was a holiday week, little miss was out of school and was tagging along.

Pulling open the heavy glass door, I was slightly disheartened seeing the fifty plus people already waiting and seated.

"Looks like all of these people have birthdays on December 29th!" I said to Senia Mae as she led me through multiple aisles to find the best seat. After changing her mind several times, she decided that the second row on the left gave us the perfect view of the shiny Plexiglas payment windows. Within seconds she was engaged in conversation with the woman seated in the row in front of us.

"Are you getting a new license plate?" Senia Mae asked the woman, who was jolly and plump, looking to be in her early sixties. She turned around smiling, appearing surprised at the openness of the inquiry.

"No," she said. "I need to pay other taxes today. How old are you?"

"Four and a half," Senia Mae said.

"Well, I have a granddaughter who is just about your age. Do you like the movie Frozen?" she asked.

"Yes. Santa Claus brought me the Frozen Castle and Ice Palace," Senia Mae said. "And I have a new kitty named Tulip."

"Did Santa bring you the kitty?"

"No. There is a man at the office named Chris Gober and he brought a cage," Senia mae said. "When the kitten went into the cage I named her Tulip and we brought her home." The woman nodded, listening intently to Senia Mae's captivating story.

"Then the toilet started overflowing right before the people came on Christmas," Senia Mae added. I instantly felt my face reddening as I looked at the floor. Please stop talking, I thought to myself as the woman put her hand over her mouth to muffle her laugh. I piped in trying to push off more embarrassment.

"Mae Mae, remember we thought it was the toilet but it ended up being the gutter outside," I said, trying to make it appear like I was not that person who lets their septic system overflow right before the holiday guests arrive.

"Well, yes," Senia Mae said. "It did end up being the gutter and nobody had to go pee in the bucket for Christmas." Fortunately the announcer called number forty two, the woman's number, before Senia Mae rattled off any other family secrets to a complete stranger!

"Out of the mouths of babes!" the woman said as she walked off and I was thankful that the conversation had ended.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A beautiful saaaa, we're happy to naaaa, walking in a winter wonderland!

Okay, so maybe it wasn't exactly a winter wonderland. It was Tuesday night, we were running ourselves ragged trying to recreate Christmas memories, and it was fifty five degrees and pouring outside. My parents were in town for the holiday and we decided to drive down to Marietta and see the Christmas lights at my Alma Mater, Life Chiropractic College. Back then, I remember loathing the light lookers as they blocked the access to the library. Now I was visiting with my own family, drinking lip scorching mint hot chocolate from Dunkin' Donuts, and excited to see the look of amazement on my four year old's face as we drove through the twinkling campus of low lit bedazzlement.

What seemed most thrilling to Senia Mae was that we allowed her to stand up in the car, her lips fogging up the glass as she smashed her little face against the backseat window trying to get closer to the outdoor led brilliance. We turned out our headlamps and followed the merry glow of blue icicle lights hung vertically against the wall of hardwoods lining Barclay Circle.

Several times this season I had shown Senia Mae a video clip of the Del Rubio Triplets singing "Winter Wonderland" from Pee Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special. Their version of the classic, performed in their campy, tasseled mini dresses and white go go boots, has always been my favorite. Three blond sixty-somethings, strumming guitars and singing in harmony, " A beautiful sight...we're happy tonight..." It was now becoming one of my daughter's favorites as well.

Driving through Life College, Senia Mae started humming Winter Wonderland as we passed the Lasting Purpose lawn filled with colorful trees and stars. But she had apparently misunderstood the lyrics. Her version went like this: "A beautiful saaaaa, we're happy to naaaaa, walking in a winter wonderland." After we all stopped laughing, we tried to correct her and tell her the words were sight and tonight, but in her head we were just a bunch of jokers trying to mess up her song. To her it was very clear that the high pitched sopranos were saying saaaa and naaaa. Her "you obviously have no idea what you are talking about" look said it all.

She kept on singing it her way and by the end of the night we were all singing, "A beautiful saaaaa, we're happy to naaaaa, walking in a winter wonderland!"

Monday, December 15, 2014

Everybody take your positions!

Senia Mae has begun her home directorial debut, mimicking the rehearsals of her preschool's Christmas nativity re-enactment. Even though the real performance isn't until Wednesday, everyone who visits our house has gotten a humorous dose of what is to come. In today's living room rendition, it was decided by the director that I was to play Mary and Momma Kim was going to be Joseph. Savannah was playing the parts of all three wise men, Darrell became the twinkling star, and Katie was chosen for the angel.

"Why do I have to be Joseph?" Momma Kim asked Senia Mae. "I want to be a girl."

The stern director looked at Momma Kim, pointed her index finger and made only a sound, "Eh," indicating she wanted silence.

"If Darrell's here and he's the only boy why can't he play Joseph?" I asked next.

"Eh," she said firmly. "You are Mary and Momma Kim is Joseph. Now everybody take your positions."

"Senia Mae, how about if we eat dinner first and afterwards we will all do the play?" I asked. "We are all starving and will be better actors if we are not hungry." Out of empathy, the director granted us lenience and we loaded our plates with meatloaf, heading for the dinner table. Not wanting to give up her control of the group, Senia Mae led us in several extensive prayers and acknowledgements, until we finally had to cut her off. You could tell by the high pitched excitement in her tone that she was enjoying the spotlight.

After a few minutes of eating dinner Senia Mae said, "Kim, can I have another roll, please?" She was kneeling on the dining room chair, standing as tall as she could so she could tower over the table.

"What did you call me?" Kim asked, a little offended that the director was bypassing her title of momma.

"I said please," Senia Mae said. She couldn't understand why Kim was questioning her.

"What did you call me?" Kim asked again.

You could almost see the circuits spinning inside of Senia Mae's head as she scrunched her eyebrows, appearing to be in deep thought. Then her face relaxed and she got it, understanding what all of the fuss was about.

"Okay, Joseph...can I have another roll please?" I laughed so hard I actually peed a little.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

She's growing up so fast...

To you or me, five years goes by in a blink. Memories that I remember as if they just happened are now a half a decade old, that's how fast time moves in my life. To Senia Mae, five years is an eternity. We were driving home from a Santa train ride and to pacify the backseat jitters during the hour long trip I let Senia Mae play with my phone. I would never have imagined that flipping through my iTunes playlist would be so captivating.

After jumping through a few quick introductions to several different tunes she finally stopped at the beginning of the list of B song titles. I heard the synthesizer first. Da...Da da, "Wo ooh wo ooh wo ooh wo," Justin Bieber belted out in that innocent, sixteen year old high pitched voice. Kim and I immediately started moving our heads to the beat, left to right in unison, remembering the million times we had to sing his song Baby to Senia Mae as an infant.

"What song is this?" Senia Mae asked from the backseat.

"You don't remember this song?" Kim asked her.

"I have never heard this," Senia Mae said.

"Mae Mae, this was your favorite song when you were a baby. Mommy and I memorized every single word, even the rap parts, because we had to sing it to you so many times. You loved it," I said. "We would hold you under the arms as you stood on the desk and your knees would bounce to the music. You laughed and laughed to this song, and when you cried in the car we either had to sing it or play it on the radio. You would instantly stop crying. That's how much you loved it." She looked back at me with big eyes, believing what I said but obviously had no connection to the memory.

"We always had to make sure we had the CD in the car and Mama even learned how to play it on her guitar," Kim said.

"Oh," she said, sounding surprised. "I don't remember that but I do like it," and for once she let an entire song play from start to finish. Kim and I sat in the front seat flabbergasted. It was hard to imagine that she could not remember something so significant, even though we do realize that she was not even one years old. To Kim and I those memories are fresh, like they happened only yesterday, but to her it was a lifetime ago.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Momma, Princesses do not wear blue jeans!

The fashion wars have begun. In our home, the four year old is already voicing her opinion on what she will and will not wear. As much as I hate to admit it, we have started using threats as our primary negotiation tactic. The most efficacious trick is threatening to give her a boy haircut. This was especially effective since Kim and Senia Mae got a trim today. There is no worse punishment than the thought of cutting off her golden mane princess-like hair. We would never actually do it, but it is useful to get teeth brushed, to finish vegetables on a dinner plate, or to get her out the door on time. What makes it even more funny is that Kim and I were both tomboys as kids. I remember begging my dad to take me to his barber so I could get the same haircut as him. My mother had a total fit when I came home looking like a cute little boy. At the time I loved looking like a boy, but to my daughter that kind of haircut would be the worst suffering imaginable. It is a complete riot.

Today's wardrobe argument was over denim. I had picked out a long sleeved pink Frozen shirt with some medium colored boot-cut blue jeans. Senia Mae looked over the outfit and cried out, "I just can't wear this," tossing the ensemble on the couch and storming into the other room.

"Why not?" I asked.

"Mama, princesses do not wear blue jeans," she said passionately. "They wear fancy dresses. I have to put on something else."

"It is five minutes until eight and you are going to be late for school," I said. "You are wearing the blue jeans."

"No, I'm not."

"Yes, you are."

"No, I'm not."

"Yes, you are."

This went on for a few more rounds until I had to threaten the boy haircut and of course, I got my way. She pouted all the way up the stairs and into the car. Just to prove my point I looked up some princess facts as Mommy Kim drove us to the school.

"Okay, Senia Mae, I am going to Google if princesses really wear blue jeans."

"Are you kidding?" she said.

"No, it's coming up right now." My finger flicked the screen as several kids books like "Do Princesses Kiss Frogs?" came up. Then at the bottom of the page was a story on Princess Kate visiting New York City this week. The article was about how she wore her favorite jeans three days in a row. Poor woman, I thought, can't even wear jeans without the paparazzi noticing.

"Here it is," I said. "A real live princess. Her name is Kate and she lives in London, England." Senia Mae's eyes became as large as bowling balls. She couldn't believe it. "Says here that she is visiting New York City and she wore her favorite jeans three days in a row."

"Can I see it?" Senia Mae asked as I handed her the phone. She looked at the casually dressed princess in astonishment. "Can you show me a fancy picture of her?" I pulled up the royal wedding photo from a few years ago and seeing the same princess in the flowing white bridal gown was all the evidence I needed to close the case. Yes, princesses wear blue jeans. It was confirmed by the internet and everyone knows that everything you read on the internet is true.

Now for my princess? I won the blue jean battle today, but who knows what tomorrow will bring!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

What I'm really trying to say is...step it up with the lights already!

A few days after my lesson on the true meaning of Christmas, my little walking book of wisdom came with me to the car dealership. In the service office Senia Mae helped herself to a seat on the large stool while the woman was sifting through her files trying to find our paperwork.

"Do you have any pink cars in here?" Senia Mae asks. The woman continued looking through her drawer, unaware that she was the one being questioned. Senia Mae decided to ask again, a little bit louder this time.

"Are there any pink cars?" The woman rose up slightly from her squatting position behind the desk. Only her nose and eyeglasses showed over the surface, but you could tell she was smiling by the way her cheeks were pushing her eyes into a crescent shapes.

"How old are you?" she asked.

"Four and a half," Senia Mae said.

"Well, we don't have any pink cars right now but there was one yesterday," the woman said.

"Are you kidding?" Senia Mae asked. It was her new line.

"Nope. It was here just yesterday, a Mary Kay car."

"You have to sell a lot of lipstick to get one of those pink cars," I said to Senia Mae. "Mary Kay is a kind of fancy makeup. You would love it...just might earn a pink car someday."

Before the end of the sentence finished crossing my lips Senia Mae was already onto her next thought. I could see her eyes scanning the walls, giving the whole office the once over. There was not much to the area, four cubicles, each with a desk, two chairs, a filling cabinet, and a computer. There were a few hand drawn pictures taped onto the glass window of the next cubicle mixed in with a few shoddy sprigs of plastic pine garland adorned with a cheap looking red bow. The woman ran my credit card and handed me the keys just as Senia Mae hops off the stool and says, "You really need some decorations in here." Laughter erupted out of all four cubicles as I led Senia Mae out the door, slightly embarrassed but humored by her blunt honesty.

"Out of the mouths of babes," the woman said, laughing as we walked towards the parking lot. Senia Mae was right, why waste your time decorating of it doesn't even look good? It was a sentiment I could completely understand. That must be my kid!

Friday, December 5, 2014

This old house sure is looking good. I'm so glad its Christmas vacation....

As the pre-holiday stress hits alarming levels, I find myself buried with tasks I am trying to cram into three short weeks: ordering Christmas cards, organizing the staff party, decorating the house, all while forgetting the relaxation of Thanksgiving at the beach just five days ago. "Where does the time go," I say silently as I drag Senia Mae shopping at 10 am on Thursday morning, squeezing in some power shopping before I have to leave for work at 2:45. My favorite CD is belting out Christmas Wrappings as the words drill into my cerebellum like brainwashing: "friends of mine already mad rush just cause its tis the season." Laughing out loud I realize that is exactly what I am doing, heading to Target for tinsel and pre-lit garland, Home Goods for a table runner and a sleek, sophisticated version of a 1970's themed Christmas tree, and Walmart for more extension cords and an outside timer.

Senia Mae and I have made it in an out of the first store in an amazing 40 minutes and I am checking my watch to see if we are keeping the right pace. Just as I am tugging at her seat belt for the third time, checking to make sure it is secure, then racing to the front seat to sprint to our next shopping destination, Senia Mae says, "Mommy, you do know that Christmas is not about lights."

"What do you mean?" I ask.

"Well, even though the lights are pretty, Christmas is not about lights. It is not about decorations and it is not even about presents. Christmas is a time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus." Senia Mae sits in the back seat chatting as if she was talking to me about what we were going to have for lunch, completely matter of fact. Those were the exact words I should have to say to her, the four year old, when she complains that she didn't get enough for Christmas. But instead, she is having to give me, the forty year old, the "let me tell you the true meaning of Christmas" lecture. I was absolutely flabbergasted.

"You are so right," I said to her. "Sometimes it is easy to get forget what we are celebrating. The lights remind us of the Northern star and that is why I love to decorate, but thank you for reminding me that Christmas is really about Jesus and not just getting everything done in time." I rolled my eyes, embarrassed at my behavior in front of my impressionable child.

"It's okay, Mommy," she says innocently, turning her attention back to the singing cactus on her lap that continuously plays "Tequila." We got the rest of our errands run, but as I sat at the stoplight thinking of the profound wisdom resonating from the backseat, it made me wonder exactly who is the teacher and who is the student!