September 22, 2017
By Ekta R. Garg
Enjoy these Spurts from the last two weeks, readers!
One day Eleven got into quite a punchy mood as we drove to the Y for the girls’ swimming lesson. She started singing silly songs in the car, and by the time we parked and started walking to the entrance of the YMCA she added a funny dance to go with the snog. Nine watched her big sister for a few minutes then turned to me.
“She’s really quite daft,” she said in all seriousness.
Yes. I have one child who’s daft and another who knows exactly how to use the word. All we’re missing is some dancing penguins and Julie Andrews talking about being “practically perfect in every way.”
All in a British accent, of course. Care for a spot of tea, mum?
Often the kids will encounter things at school but don’t always have the presence of mind to tell me about them. Sometimes extracurricular activities get in the way. Sometimes they forget due to other conversations we have. As a result, I’ve gotten quite used to the kids dropping random information into our time together.
Like last week at breakfast. Eleven began describing how two of her friends at school told her, without any judgment whatsoever, that she’s “unhealthily skinny.” Before I could say anything, Eleven made it completely clear that her friends weren’t making fun of her. They weren’t speaking in a condescending tone. They made the observation more in a matter-of-fact sort of way.
My older child is willowy. She’s about as tall as me now, has legs that go on for miles, and a fairly straight frame. We’ve talked often about her body image, and I’ve reinforced for her over and over again that as long as she’s eating right and getting enough exercise it doesn’t matter how her body looks.
I didn’t have to say any of that this time, though. Eleven rounded out the story with the observation that when one of the friends who made the “skinny” comment darted away to join a game at P.E., the other one turned to her and said, “But I think you’re beautiful too.”
“I just beamed at her,” Eleven said to me.
I could see the clarity in her eyes about the incident. She believed her friend’s compliment, and it didn’t really bother her much about what the girls said before. I hope this means we’re at the start of her accepting herself for how she looks.
It’ll certainly save us a lot of trouble in the years ahead.
Earlier this week I got in the car to pick up the kids from school and realized I’d left my sunglasses in the house. I grabbed an old pair of my husband’s sunglasses and put the car in gear. When I got to school, I saw that Nine had already come out to the car pickup line, but Eleven hadn’t yet.
“Di-Di’s coming,” Nine announced as she sat in the car. “She just had to get something out of her locker.”
I opened the windows, parked the car, and turned it off. Nine and I chatted about her day, and I asked the standard after-school questions about homework, whether she’d eaten her lunch, etc. Nine answered dutifully. Then after a minute or two, she said, “Mamma, can I be honest with you?”
“I always want you to be honest with me, no matter what,” I said, wondering where this was going to lead. The girls, as I’ve said, surprise me all the time.
“Those sunglasses don’t look nice on you,” she replied. “I know you might think you’re looking dope and everything, but you’re not.”
“And what does that mean, ‘looking dope’?” I asked, fighting a smile.
“You know, cool and stuff.”
I resisted the urge to look at myself in the mirror. The sunglasses are old, a pity pair my husband bought to act as temporary sunglasses while he found the perfect ones. They’re black—like, Tom Cruise in the ‘90s black—and tapered at the corners of the eyes to give a sleek biker look.
In other words, to look dope.
“You don’t think I look cool?” I said, pretending to be offended.
“Well, you do, but the sunglasses don’t,” Nine said.
Good. As long as we’ve established that I am, in fact, dope. Or all that. Or whatever.