French fries provided me with an important parenting lesson this week. We made some curly fries Thursday night (with the new oven’s air fryer setting, of course). When I took the pan out, Ally looked and pointed out that a few had arranged themselves into the approximation of a smile. Later, Ce came down and pointed to the same group and said it looked like a frowning face.
French fries as personality test. And a reminder.
Parents can’t draw a picture. Not in ink. You can’t even really have a firm plan. Not of parenting. Not of your family. Not of each of your kids. You don’t know how it’s going to go. You don’t even have a say in a lot of it. You need to loosely hold the wheel and be willing to adjust. To be flexible.
To always be ready to learn and to change and to approach each kid on their own terms.
Frowning or smiling. Curly fries or tater tots.
There is this coat. Cecilia wants it. She wants it bad. For the first time, she won’t be put off with vague assertions of waiting until Christmas or her birthday. She needs it. If she doesn’t get it a small piece of her soul will be lost and no matter how long she lives or how much happiness she might find, her life will never be complete. That kind of coat.
Maybe this is more of a girl thing. I don’t remember ever wanting anything to tears. If I did covet anything it was probably an expansion floppy disk for SimCity or an omnibus edition of the complete works of Arthur C. Clarke or something equally and deeply dorky. Nothing worth crying over. Maybe time or self-preservation has dulled my memory.
This started on Wednesday with a brief mention of girls wearing these reversible coats at school, but it built to a crescendo by Friday afternoon and threatened to spiral out of control. Alone with the girls, I hit the panic button and called Michelle at work. She was able to use her Mom superpowers, or maybe her own memories of that bedazzled jean jacket she wanted, and talk Cecilia off the ledge.