Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day

Back 100 years or so ago, when Alison still had chubby cheeks and was learning how to make the scissors work, we did all kinds of projects together.

We painted, we glued. We had drawers full of stickers and ribbons, popsicle sticks, strips of magnets and beads. We made cookies and villages for her dinosaurs and stuffed animals. We made holiday cards and thank you notes, paintings and those little beads you melt with an iron and hang in the window. Jewelry of all kinds.

We made a terrific messes, too, but it didn't matter. My rudimentary (at best) crafting skills were buried under our amazement at the beautiful art we created together. Her friends would come over and head straight for the paint because (yes, I'm talking to you, Amer) they loved the idea of making messes and art without having to deal with clean-up or anxiety over it. "Paint spilled on the carpet? Who cares? it's on the back porch. Next time try to stay on the plastic, though."

Those were the days when she was re learning so much about things she takes for granted now. When she'd put her hands on her hips, huff out an exasperated sigh and say, "I do it mySELF!"  And then try to tie her shoes or paste on a bead that kept sticking to her fingers. 

So cute. So sweet. So inept that she'd have to turn to me eventually for help. And be grateful for it.

This morning, she presented me with her list of things she wants to make today for our family 4th of July gathering tomorrow: a watermelon made into a grill and decorated with fruit kabobs, and patriotic cupcakes. She also wants to make cookies for our neighbor in payment for his offering to haul away our yard waste to his farm.

"I want to do this by myself," she warned me.

I looked at her. I have a habit of lingering within ear shot and cleaning up her horrific kitchen messes while she's in the thick of things. I can't help it. I'm a clean-as-you-go kind of girl. I can't stand walking through my kitchen and feeling the sugar crackle under my feet. 

Or to have my hand stick to the refrigerator door handle because it's coated with icing. Or to see dishes piled up in the sink, icing and batter drying into hardended mortar when all it needs is a good rinse. I'm helping. Really. Just helping.

"You know," she said into the silence. "So I can prove that I can really do it. All of it. By myself."

I sighed. In one of our rare moments of pre-teen angst, she had gotten really upset when I'd cleaned up while she wasn't looking. Upon discovery, mid-act, she had protested that she was going to do that next! 

"Mom just won't let me do it my way," she sniffled to her father after I'd thrown up my hands and stopped what I was doing to get out of her way. Yeah. Generally, I'm the one she complains to. About HIM!

"And when my cookies are in the freezer for the hour they have to wait before I bake them, that's when I'll clean up. I'll scrub it all down," she said.

I gathered her up. "I trust you to do it. I will stay out of the way."

Ugh. I have clearly been dismissed. I know she CAN do it. The question is, can I?

I'm going on a bike ride to escape and to summon up the discipline to let her at it. 

Damn independent spirit. Happy fricking 4th of July.

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