Here's this week's column....
My daughter the waif
Girlchild is a free spirit. That is a polite way of saying she can be as stubborn and immovable as the Canadian Shield. I have learned to choose my battles.
One of the most frequent issues we encounter relates to her appearance, which sways wildly between princess and homeless waif. Girlchild, I daresay, is quite cute. She has big blue eyes and strikingly blonde hair and she practically dances wherever she goes. When she’s not being sprite-like, however, she’s a troll. This can happen when she doesn’t want to wear what you suggest.
Girlchild likes soft things and her current favourite is summer dresses. This, for the moment, is working out okay, but you would not have wanted to be a member of my household when the weather changed from warm and spring-like in April to cool and autumn-like in May and early June.
Back to tights and long-sleeved garments after a short stint with airy summer attire? I. Don’t. Think. So.
Eventually, after eleventy thousand screaming matches on the subject, my stamina faltered and I decided that, yes, she could go outside in the backyard wearing her flimsy spring dress and bare feet on the understanding that she should come in if she feels cold or it starts to snow. Of course I added the mandatory parental phrase: “Don’t come cryin’ to me if you catch your death of cold.” (I utter these things even though I know colds come from germs, not weather.)
Does this make me a bad parent? Depends on your perspective, I guess. I’m sure my mother-in-law must have been having kittens as she watched the fairy waif flitting about the backyard wearing next to nothing and getting grimy feet. Like many good grandmas, she concerns herself greatly with coldness, dampness and dirt, and since our backyards connect she had front-row seats to this unfolding drama of waif-ness in the blustery spring weather. So far she has refrained from calling the authorities.
Fortunately, the weather has (mostly) warmed up enough that summer dresses are now reasonable attire. The grime factor, though, continues to be an issue.
Girlchild knows we won’t let her wander beyond the backyard in bare feet due not only to the dirt issue, but also because of general hazards such as glass, rusty nails, dog poop and people who spit on the sidewalk. Blech. This doesn’t hold a candle to our backyard after the grass has been cut, though. You can send the girl out in shoes in an effort to prevent her feet from turning blackish green, but as soon as she’s out of sight around the corner by the hedge those shoes are off and the sprite frolics through the freshly mowed loveliness. Can’t say that I blame her.
It’s not just her feet that cause strangers to wonder whether the poor dear is neglected. I have a tough time remembering to wipe Girlchild’s face before we go out, mostly because her crazy hair is almost always in the way. Periodically Girlchild requests pig tails or braids or clips, but most of the time getting those blonde locks off her face is about as likely as wearing tights in June.
Now that spring is here, sticky treats such as Popsicles often find their way into long, blonde hair, which adds to the challenge of maintaining a neatly brushed look. The icing on the sticky old cake had to be the other day, when after a hard afternoon of frolicking, Girlchild and I made our way to the pool to watch her brother’s last swimming lesson. On the way there, Girlchild fell completely in love with a book in the van that allows you to colour using dry-erase markers. She toted said book and a marker inside and spent her bleacher time colouring.
Well, when you lean into your work and your arms press down on a laminated surface covered with washable black marker, there’s going to be a bit of a transfer issue. Picture this: crazy hair, dirty face, multiple grass stains and arms covered in black swirly tattoos.
“I like your colouring job,” one lady remarked with a grin as we passed her on our way out.
Definitely a bath night for waifs. Definitely.