All I wanted was for my preschooler to be counter-cultural, cross-cultural, boho-chic and a feminist, straight outta the birth canal-ton.
Her first doll was a tiny, brown tinted baby doll for her to cuddle.
I gave in on the pink flannel nightie that made up the soft covering to her body, in exchange for a ban on Barbie that only lasted through kindergarten because her great-grandmother handmaid Barbie clothes.
We played her Moby and Lauren Hill, Public Enemy and Indigo Girls, Rich Mullins and Keith Green. We put as many people of color on our walls as white. We bought her science kits and learning toys. We bought her a toy accordion and we hid her toy accordion. We micromanaged her.
One Sunday she wanted to pick her own outfit. I refused. I had something boho chic in mind. –There’s a term for this studied un-studied look. Because I’m from Generation X, I have no idea what this word is. All I know is that my favorite outfit for my daughter was this red corduroy skirt with embroidered daisies on the hem, rainbow stripped tights, a flowered shirt and a plaid something or another. Patterns and textures. She wanted to be a truly disastrously mismatched mess. She didn’t get past the shirt before I overcame her will
I wrestled her into the tights and shirt. She fought back slippery as a cat being costumed.
In the weeks after, I saw signs everywhere. Because I knew in my nous, the seat of my soul, that I’d seeded her first and early rebellions: her stonewalling on clean up, her sudden hatred of her purple walls, her bursts of anger. One time she got so agitated in response to my “bedtime” call that she ran away from the computer game she was playing with a headset. The headset wire snapped as it popped off her head and the short fried the motherboard.
I sat down to revise a paper to discover the computer’s electrical system fried. All of my manuscripts of recent poetry and stories were on there. We paid two hundred dollars just to retrieve those, and more to fix the computer. Still I never did save them to the cloud. Gone. All of my writing, because I was a control freak.
Look at the kindergarten pictures, my tow-headed, curly haired, white daughter in her red corduroy skirt, in a Kodak pose, hand on knee conforming to the moment with a spark of rebel in her eyes, conflicted by when to do what.
Like when to carve A+ into the rear panel of our blue Honda and when to realize she should repent for trying to tell her parents how great she found her life, the world and us.
Next time, ask me about how I ruined her hair on her 16th birthday.