My daughter certainly adores her older brother. He’s 11. She’s three.
He went with a friend to a gadget club at the local library and while he was gone she found this dress and put it on, telling me how she wanted to look nice for him when he got home.
We had actually gone upstairs to look for her swimsuit because she was determined she was going swimming, even though it was too cold and I had told her I was too busy making dinner to take her out to her small, plastic pool. She’d already turned down her one bathing suit, insisting she needed the new one daddy had got her, when she saw the white laced dress with the pink ribbon. It was a dress she had previously refused to wear for me on more than one occasion.
This day, though, she saw it as an opportunity to grab her big brother’s attention, something she’d been doing even inside the womb. When I was pregnant with her she would begin kicking whenever I curled up with him at night and read him a book before bed. We were all convinced she came two weeks before her due date simply because she could hear all the fun he was having and wanted in on it. She never crawled, only rolled and started pulling herself up on chairs at seven months and walking at nine so she could chase her brother around the house.
“Oh, when he sees me I just know he’s going to tell me how beautiful I look,” she told me. “He’ll say ‘oh my gosh! Grace, you look so beautiful!”
While we waited I had to take the new puppy out to do her business, as the saying goes, in the backyard. My daughter stood at the door and said she couldn’t come out because she didn’t want anyone to see her not wearing pants in public.
I explained she was a girl and girls wear dresses so it was okay if she wasn’t wearing pants with her dress. She didn’t seem convinced but she came out anyhow. I should have also reminded her that she was running around our side yard in the middle of town without a shirt the night before, imitating her brother, so I didn’t know what she was worried about now.
Finally her brother came home, looked at her standing out in the backyard in her pretty dress and said, in a tone of voice similar to a person who has just been forced to watch an hour of NOVA. “Oh. You’re wearing a dress.”
Standing behind her I tried to hint to him that he needed to tell her she looked beautiful. I mouthed the words, “tell her she looks lovely.”
“What?!” he said loudly. “I can’t hear you!”
I mouthed the words slowly again, whispering a little now , but again he squished his face up at me and said “What?Huh? What are you saying?”
Finally I gritted my teeth a bit and whispered loudly at him “tell her she looks beautiful!”
He said, “ooooh!”, looked at her, shrugged his shoulders and said with not much emotion, “you look beautiful.”
It was good enough for her because the rest of the night he was the recipient of the most adoring look from her and she wanted him to carry her and play with her and sit by her at dinner. This adoration was, of course, gone by the next morning when she woke up cranky and told him to stop touching her and that he wasn’t allowed to hug her.
Always an adventure.