Mother's Day gift to mom of four boys: a little girl with Willy Wonka ‘lift’
Mother's Day gift: A mom of four boys gets a lesson from a 7-year-old girl about returning to her girlie roots. Giggles, glitter, and a bop on the head drive the mom around the bend and straight into an 'ah ha' moment: There's a lotta love in indulging your girlie roots.
This Mother’s Day my gift came early in the form of a reality check on my relaxed and fun quotients. I learned to enjoy the present, thanks to a little girl named Laurel, 7, who entered our lives for school day mornings a few months ago and helped me get my mom skills to sparkle and shine again.Skip to next paragraph
Lisa Suhay, who has four sons at home in Norfolk, Va., is a children’s book author and founder of the Norfolk (Va.) Initiative for Chess Excellence (NICE) , a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth via mentoring and teaching the game of chess for critical thinking and life strategies.
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Laurel is in the chess program I run at the local community center and is always there and smiling no matter what. Win, lose, draw, cookie falls on the floor, she giggles through it all.
After being uncharacteristically absent for two weeks, Laurel came in one afternoon very somber and asked, “Mrs. Suhay, are you going to die today?” When I made light of it telling her I didn’t have that on my social calendar, Laurel solemnly replied, “My Daddy died. Am I going to die today?”
That exchange led to the chat with her mom, Theresa, and learning that Laurel’s step-father died very suddenly of a stroke, at age 34.
The shock of the loss had the effect of shattering Laurel’s rose-colored view of the world.
Then I learned that Laurel’s mom was up at 5 each morning in order to drive her 18-month-old son to daycare across town and then get back to our neck of the woods to get Laurel to a breakfast program at school and then, finally, to work, again, across town.
Both Laurel and my son Quin, 9, attend the same elementary school, and it seemed an easy fix to offer to take Laurel from 7 to 8:30 each morning, give her breakfast and take her to school with Quin for the remainder of the school year.
My husband has a key phrase that applies here: “Everything is easy when you don’t know what you’re doing.” I learned fast that I was right out of my depth with a little girl.
True confession time – I’ve always longed for a daughter, but said otherwise so as not to hurt my sons’ feelings or appear to be ungrateful for the gift my four boys are.
So Laurel’s become part of our morning routine for the past several months. She’s back to her old self, which is to say that this little red-haired, high-energy child is as effervescent, unpredictable, and dangerous when applied incorrectly, as one of Willy Wonka’s Fizzy Lifting drinks.
Here is the “daughter” of my dreams and she drove me crazy from the first moment she walked in the door because I had completely lost touch with my inner-girl child.
Here is a child speaking in a stereotypical high-pitched, baby-talk voice, in pink and with the attention span of a butterfly but the optimism of Super Pollyanna. If you put Laurel in a room filled ceiling to floor with poop she’d yell, “YAAAAAAAY! and run in to look for the pony.
I caught myself cringing and developing a sharp tone when answering her questions and feeling angst when it was time for her to arrive. What was wrong with me? She had a similar effect on Quin, only at a multiple of Pi. His Apergers nature means that interruption of routine can melt him down. Since my husband is the same way. Over time, I have learned to keep things quiet, predictable in the extreme and low-key in order to keep the peace.