This past Thursday, the tables turned. I felt them spin, as clearly as if I had muscled them around myself. At precisely 7:25 am, Belén notified me of her position, from the other end of the table–figuratively and literally.
Belén: Mom, I’m not wearing those jeans.
Me: Why not? There’s nothing wrong with them… Look, they’re even GAP (I’m not sure why I throw this in, knowing it means nothing to her) and they look good on you.
Belén: But they’re not skinny jeans. I only wear skinny jeans, mom. You may as well just give those ones away; I’ll never use them.
Me: Your skinny jeans are in the laundry. Just put these on. I would wear them if I could.
I flag the jeans in front of her face to emphasize my point. Belén looks at me and shakes her head resolutely. I sense she will not be persuaded. In that moment I realize it doesn’t matter to her one whit whether I fancy the jeans or not. In fact, my sense of style weighs very little on her scales.
Me: Well I don’t get it, these jeans look fine to me…
My voice trails off and it dawns on me I am no longer a hip young woman (wait, was I ever one?), but a mother. A mother who is out of touch; who can’t tell a pair of jeans from the next one. Of course, this is not the first time my sense of fashion has clashed with hers. Trips to the grocery store in tutus, high heels for walks in the snow, and Christmas dresses in July, have all been sources of conflict, but this time it is different. My voice echoes back to me with a distinct trace of bewilderment and surrender, as it should. Clearly, I don’t know a thing about jeans. More critically, I have lost the upper hand in all things fashion.
On a brighter note, turning eight also means taking on new responsibilities in planning and hosting a birthday party. An hour and a half before the guests arrive, I hear Belén come into the bathroom during my shower.
“I’ll help cut up the carrots for the veggie tray,” her voice cutting through the steam, “That’s the next thing on our list, right?”
Why yes it is, dear eight-year-old-baby-turned-co-hostess!
I’ve been waiting eight years for my children to grow old enough to play “capture the flag” .
We played it in the park behind our house, after sunset. One of the advantages of inviting entire families, (parents included), to your birthday is having grown men come howling at you out of the darkness. Judging by the pitch of the screams in response, it was thrilling!
So thrilling, that one participant collapsed in the hammock afterwards. He fell asleep after Stan outfitted him with hearing protection–the girls were on edge for the rest of the night and couldn’t seem to stop screaming.
Stan was very excited about giving Belén her present this year. He bought this guitar, varnished it, and then dressed it up a little with some carbon fibre. I wonder if, twenty years ago, he could have pictured himself fiddling with a butterfly design, to make his gift just right for an eight-year-old daughter?
The lessons start this week. I am looking forward to them in kind of a hopeful, yet slightly cringing, way. I can already hear myself nag, nag, nagging…
And lastly, here is a recipe to bet on.
Whenever I serve anything gluten-free to guests I try to hold back, but some how or another, I never make it through the night with out a little probing. I always want to know: Does this taste as good as “the real thing”? Supposedly, these do. (Or perhaps my kind guests sensed the desperation in my voice.)
Gluten Free Pumpkin Cupcakes, adapted slightly, from here
3 large eggs
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 cups pumpkin puree
2 tsp vanilla
1 2/3 brown rice flour, 1/3 starch (I never use the same GF flour mix twice… mmm… maybe that explains something?)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3 tsp. cinnamon
dash of nutmeg and ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 tsp xanthan gum (optional)
1 block of softened cream cheese
3,4,5…6? tsp softened butter, depending on how happy you are
1/5 tsp vanilla
3 ish cups of icing sugar
spash of milk, if needed
Go well into the week!