Small Talk

We begin our inquisition as soon as I’ve pulled out of the elementary school parking lot.

“Mommy?”

“Yes?”

“Spider in garbage?”

“Yup, the spider’s all gone.”

“Batteries out?”

“Yup, we took the batteries out and threw that silly spider away.”

“Spider” is the giant, furry, motion-activated headache that Vince insisted on buying and hanging in his bedroom. The spider that I explained was just a toy as I showed Grace the batteries that made it work. The spider that she promised didn’t scare her. The spider that fell towards her as she snuck into Vince’s room to steal his Play-Doh. The spider that caused her to fly out of his bedroom, eyes bulging, shakily yelling, “Take the batteries out! Take the batteries OUT!! Spider goes in garbage! Put the SPIDER IN THE GARBAGE!” (It’s in a closet- sorry, kid, but I’m not throwing $15 in the garbage).

“Yay!…Vacuum in basement?”

I don’t need much convincing to not vacuum after a 12-hour day, so I can honestly answer that question.

“Yup, we’re not vacuuming today, Honey.”

“Daddy no vacuum today?”

“Nope.”

“Ok!”

The personal questions begin, right on cue, as I head towards the highway.

“Mommy tired?”

“Oh yes, how about you?”

“Gracie tired too!…Mommy ok?”

“Yup, I’m fine, baby girl. How about you?”

“Yes, Gracie ok!”

Now it’s my turn to fill the silence.

“Gosh, there’s a lot of traffic…”

“Yes! Cars and trucks…move cars! Move it!…ummm, sing songs?”

“Sure! Let’s see what’s on the radio…”

And so it goes. Our hour-long daily commute, sans her big brother, has suddenly become a slightly awkward first date.

If you regularly follow my blog you know how my daughter feels about me. (If you don’t regularly follow my blog it’s totally fine, I won’t take it personally…::sniffle::…)

Books? She tosses them at me.

Lullabies? She puts her hand over my mouth.

Any type of interaction besides a milk or snack transaction? No thanks, where’s Daddy?

Taking all of this into consideration, I was certain that the start of kindergarten was going to be catastrophic. I expected her to perfect so many variations of “I don’t want this car seat; I don’t like-a-this-juice; I want VINCENT!”  that I would be able to cancel my SiriusXM subscription. I expected to be pelted with tiny sandals and Minnie Mouse sippy cups while navigating through traffic.  I thought about investing in a bike helmet.

But what I got instead was…an effort?  Yes, that’s what I’d call it. She’s making an effort.

Not given the opportunity to toss me aside for a better option, my daughter is actually attempting to, dare I say it, interact with me! The small talk is a bit repetitive, but I’m ok with giving spider status updates and discussing my sleep patterns.  It breaks the ice and helps us transition to a lively discussion about how the cow actually says “Moo,” not “Meow,” (I always assure her that there’s no need to be embarrassed, it’s a common mistake).

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but we were so at ease with each other this morning that we- ready?- sang together.

I know, I know! Crazy Town. But it’s true. We did so many renditions of “Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun,” that I’m probably going to hear it in my sleep tonight.

And the car isn’t the only place I’m catching these “I’m testing you out as a friend” incidents. The other day she brought me a book. Not to throw at me in frustration because I made her wear pants (I’m awful). But to READ to her. Two years, one month, and one week later, and she finally let me read her a book. I wanted to dance a jig, and I don’t even know exactly what a jig is.

She asks if I like the pigtails in her hair when I pick her up from school.

She asks if my dinner is too hot or too spicy.

She blurts out “Mommy, I loooove you!” randomly. That one always causes me to walk into a piece of furniture.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself here, but if this continues I may take her for smoothies. Or out to dinner! Maybe even a place with menus, not just a neon-lit board and an order counter. Well, we can start with smoothies and see how it goes. I’ll have to strengthen my small talk game and learn some new animal facts before I attempt a full meal in a public setting.  For now we’ll slowly nurture this new friendship, giggling and singing and learning to trust each other a little bit more as we inch along in a sea of cars.

It’s funny how things happen. Less than a week ago I was sitting on Vince’s bed reassuring him that change is for the best; starting kindergarten might be scary, but it would also allow him to make new, wonderful friends. Little did I know that I was about to learn the same lesson.

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