08 January 2006

My Weird and Wonderful Girl: My First Meme!

Arwen tagged me in a meme circulating around daddy blogs: how our kids are weird. So I've been thinking about this post for about a month, trying to decide just which of the many weirdnesses in our house qualify as truly weird. Here follows a look at the more unusual side of Curious Girl:

1. She has an intense relationship with her dead grandmother, whom she never met. Politica's mother died in 1994. Curious Girl wasn't even born until 2002. Somehow, between hearing a few family stories and seeing the (admittedly strikingly beautiful and in a public place) photograph of Mormor as a young woman, Curious Girl has formed a deep an abiding attachment to her mormor (that's Norwegian for grandmother, literally mother's mother, btw). CG cries for Mormor whenever she's really upset; she wants to write cards to Mormor; she announces that various objects are gifts from Mormor (sometimes really nice things, like a piece of jewelry or a party dress, and sometimes more ephemeral things, like a piece of candy); she says she's going to visit Mormor, or that Mormor will come to visit when she's done being dead. Other days, she says "Nana [my mother] is not dead. Only Mormor is dead." I wondered for a while if CG thought that Mormor was her birthmother, but no. She's very clear that Mormor is Politica's mother. Moreena once had a post in which Annika had a similar relationship to a deceased relative, so maybe this isn't so weird as we think.

2. Curious Girl likes to play pretend. OK, what three year old doesn't? But her favorite pretend game, which we played over and over and over on the Big Car Trip, is for her to be a Mama or Mommy, Politica or me to be Mama or Mommy, and the other of us to be the Baby. Her idea of how to be a Mama or Mommy is pretty sweet in a way: usually she wants Baby to cry and then she says "It's OK, Baby. Mama's here. I love you, Baby." And then she will move to one of several scripts, asking if Baby wants a toy, wants some food, or wants to play peekaboo. But the only thing she really wants Baby to do is laugh or cry. If Baby uses words to say "Hungry! milk!" CG will say, "no, you have to cry."

3. At three and a half, Curious Girl can't deal with waking up alone. This has been true since day one: when she wakes up, she cries, unless she sees a smiling maternal face in the immediate vicinity. Light, dark, day, night, it doesn't matter. She wakes up, she cries. This may be less weird than tedious-to-the-mothers, but I'll claim it here as weird anyway.

4. CG talks to inanimate objects and is capable of creating conversation with objects that cry out for relational play (like teddy bears) and ones that don't usually (like sugar bowls). Sugar! Sugar! I'm three. Do you want to come to my birthday party? she will say. And if the sugar won't respond, she'll turn to me: Mama, the sugar's not talking. A related weirdness is that she will want me or Politica to channel Barney or the mascot to the children't museum in our town, and she signals this simply by starting to talk to Barney. And there's really no ignoring it.

5. This may or may not be quite as weird as someone's habits, but Curious Girl has a quite flexible range of food and dip pairings. This is no doubt a legacy of life in the House o' Calories, where we have never confessed to not liking any given food, where we've been putting out high-calorie dips to encourage weight gain for years, and where dipping and licking foods were part of our speech therapy program. I've seen CG dip cereal in ketchup, fruit in ketchup; I've seen her eat mustard with a spoon; I've seen her drink salad dressing from a small dipping cup. And I've smiled at it all.

6. She's afraid of announcements. Many people, watching her act like a fish at the pool (Mermaid Girl would have been a great pseudonym for her, but Elswhere beat me to it), or watching her clamber quickly to the top of a very tall jungle gym, think that she's fearless, but that's only because they've never been in a store or library when an announcement came on. CG didn't want to go in the library last week because she was afraid there would be an announcement. She covers her ears, she cries, she panics. Loud announcements are generally worse than quiet ones, but even quiet ones have provoked tears.

7. She's afraid of getting "closed on," as she would put it. This is related to the fear of announcements, since announcements are often made to signal that a library or museum is closing in 30, 15, 10, 5 minutes. I think--although it's hard to say, given that she often panics--that she fears if we get closed on, we can't get home. But where this fear comes from, who knows? I try to stress that of course we can always leave the place, it's just that no one else can come in, but so far, only getting out of the about-to-close place makes her feel better.

So that's another view of my weird and wonderful girl....I don't always get what makes these weird things tick, but that's what's so cool about watching someone grow.


Phantom Scribbler said...

My sense is that you and Politica are not co-parenting with PBS Kids the way we are (television: who says it doesn't make a good babysitter?), but on the off chance that CG does watch some TV -- did she once see the episode of "Arthur" where he and Francine get locked in the library? LG saw that one a week or two ago, and has been displaying a lot more awareness of closing and announcements ever since.

Arwen said...

Ripley also couldn't wake up alone for a long long time without shaking, crying, and generally feeling sad.
What changed that, actually, was PBS co-parenting (perfect, Scribbler) - Ripley started sneaking into the living room to turn on the TV before waking us. (Now we leave it to PBS or CBC, so that he's not watching Showcase at 6:30 am).

CG sounds like a fabulous character. It's so neat how kids uncover their personalities and we get to see it: even the random stuff, like announcements, or being panic by being closed on.

And I think it's beautiful, CG's attachment to Mormor. I have a friend who had a relationship like that with her grandmother, who passed away when she was 2. It was/is a very important relationship.

liz said...

She's adorable.

susan said...

Right, no co-parenting with PBS here, Phantom, but only because we are too busy getting CG out the door to preschool or whipping up bowls of Lindt balls to try to encourage weight gain. Who has time to turn on the TV? That said, we will be avoiding that episode of Arthur since it really is CG's idea of a nightmare. But we maybe can work with Ripley's increased media savvy as CG gets a little older. I'd not thought of holding that out as a treat. She is just starting to get interested in which button controls which on/off thing.

Her relationship with Mormor is a funny thing. Some weeks it just exasperates me b/c it only comes out when she's mad at me or really tired and she bursts into tears and says "I want Mormor." But at other times, she's so interested in stories about Mormor and she's also taken up talking to Mormor's picture. Very touching.