last night we took roxy to her school to meet the teachers. the tension and anxiety were thick around the house all day as she lovingly stroked her backpack and talked about all the toys she was going to bring with her (note: she isn’t going to bring any toys). we got her all dressed and she pranced around the house like miss america. red and i are struggling with drawing the line between healthy self-esteem and vanity. everyone tells roxy how beautiful she is and it really bothers us. sure we’ve coached roxy enough that she usually responds with “i’m smart!” but it still stings now that we see how the residual effects have inflated her most superficial/incidental traits.
sure, roxy is beautiful, as everyone is. red and i are not women who preen ourselves in front of a mirror so we’re feeling a little disgusted at how encouragement is just thrown at roxy. yesterday she said to me “will i wear a dress to school?” i said, “probably not often” to which she replied “how will i be pretty?!” last week i had to take the dresses out of her room and put them in our closet because every day was charged with the NEED to wear them. i think a lot of this stems from my mother who places great emphasis on roxy’s appearance. she came by last weekend and roxy was wearing sensible clothes (jeans and tee-shirt and my mother didn’t say anything about her outfit for the first time). the fact is, we’re farm girls now, like it or not. the wellies are lined up at the door and we are working in the yard every day. there are certainly many times during the week that we all get spiffed up – we still find time to eat at restaurants at least 3 nights a week.
roxy is at a bio-mom visit right now where she’ll immediately be adorned with a new tiara as she is at every visit. she’ll be called “princess” more times than she can count. but i digress – to come back around to the beginning of this post, at the school last night, the director immediately walked roxy into her new classroom and took out a tutu for roxy. we.were.horrified. i know there is a healthy outlet in dress-up. i told the teacher that she’s really into superheroes and we’re trying to teach her there is more than looking pretty. i’m sure the teacher relayed that to the director. in the meantime, i will instruct roxy not to strut around the house with her hand on her hip and try to figure out a way to teach a three year old humility.
p.s. i sent her to the visit in jeans and a tee (sure it was the jaw-dropping $62 elephant tee my mother bought her but it felt like a win not to fuel the fire).
We’re nearing the end of our third week in the new house and we’ve spent most of that time gardening and making countless trips to home improvement stores. My favorite thing is weed whacking, so far…except for that evening when I hit a frog. Red swears it hopped away while I was in the house trying cleanse my head of the image of it laying on its back. If I had any doubts of how much of a city girl I was, they have been verified by how every bump in the night has me in a panic. There is no good reason not to feel safe here, especially when the neighbors on either side have come by to welcome us. Well, there is one reason – the previous owners (and the whole street) were robbed years ago and while the criminals were caught, it just feels raw since I walked into a burglary in progress at my first apartment so many years ago. Red said she’s happy to get a home security system but I know that no one even locks their doors around here so I’m working on leaning into rural living.
The barn saw its first dinner party last weekend. It’s such a fun property for entertaining and I’ve already made the invites for a harvest party. A farm, just a couple houses away, is selling hay bales from the grass I watched them mow recently so I’m thinking it’ll make for good seating outside! Speaking of, our riding lawn tractor is pretty awesome – though Red is having too much fun to give me a turn. We picked peaches at a festival last weekend while Red sang with her band. Then I made peach and mascarpone tarts with Roxy yesterday.
Roxy relapsed shortly after we got here but we’re already on the 2nd round of tapering the steroids so the fact that she is responding so quickly is hopeful. Her adjustment to the new house was a little tough, we think, because we went on vacation less than a week after. She had screaming tantrums every day but so far so good this week. We’re still trying the new method of not reacting since we were pretty sure she was seeking negative attention (and positive certainly wasn’t effective – she doesn’t want us holding her in those moments). It’s really hard not to react when your toddler sounds like she is dying a brutal death and these tantrums are complicated – they come out of nowhere, making the motivation hard to pinpoint. We think she actually feels soothed by them since we know that her first 2.5 years of life were endless screaming. Finally, the other day, when I could hear her from outside in her bedroom with the windows closed, I went in and told her screaming was unacceptable. If she was sad, she was welcome to cry but she may not scream. She actually hasn’t screamed since then. It’s kind of mind-blowing how well she follows directions.
Another example of this is when she’d wake up screaming in the morning because it was seemingly the only way she knew how to wake up and one day we said “we’ll come get you out of your crib when you stop screaming” and she took it upon herself to start clapping in the mornings. This lasted a few months of us waking up to rather insistent clapping (if you can imagine such a thing) over the monitor and so this week I’ve started putting a book at the end of her bed and said “you can read this when you wake up and I’ll come in at 7:15″ and oddly, it’s working. She usually sleeps until 8, fyi, so I don’t know why we had two days of 6:45 unless she hears Red getting ready for work. Her language is still improving and I can usually get an answer when I ask what’s wrong. Sometimes I’ll ask her to please say something a different way if I’m not understanding and she’s pretty successful!
I am so excited and a little emotional about this first-day-of-school business. I want this to be a memorable day for her (at least with photos/video) and you can bet she’ll bringing her teachers apples the first day! This will be her first full-time structured program and we expect her to be exhausted. Our new community offers horseback riding for 3 year olds so we’re going to sign her up for a November session (gives us a little more time to settle in and adjust to new schedules), while Red will return to yoga, and I’m going to do archery.
well, it really happened. the closing was monday. the leased car that was rear-ended last week was traded for a rental at the body shop on wednesday. and red’s new (used) car was dropped off at the dealer for the free repairs today after we bought a brand new su.bar.u (lesbian level 101 unlocked?). oh yea, and we got an amazing design contract the made the latter possible.
today was to be the start of our vacation at the lovely rental we secured back in january but we were just too busy/tired to make the two hour drive (and there was the new car business to take care of). so we sat here tonight, in front of our barn, neko case on the speaker, and sipped gin sours while watching the fireflies. every rustle in the bushes had me jumping but red assures me i’ll soon be desensitized to the spookiness of it all. every time i hear the church bells ring across the pond behind our house, i swear the headless horseman is going to gallop by but then again, i’ve always been a city girl.
tonight roxy was ready for bed before 7 after a long day with grammy (and a late night last night), so red and i were enjoying a long supper together when i saw the neighbors walking towards our house with champagne. they also brought fresh picked peaches and plums and welcomed us to the neighborhood. they are the only neighbors we can see from our house – and just barely – so it’s nice to know they’re so decent.
oh and after my last debbie downer post when shit had hit the fan…we took off for nyc for a night. at the last minute we thought to invite my mother and get her a room as well and she was so kind as to invite roxy to stay in hers. we stayed next door to the park pla.za, where a famous fictional character shares a name with our roxy (and where grammy bought her LOTS of paraphernalia). there was even a carnival at wol.man rink where red took roxy on her first rides. nothing like spontaneity and the central p.ark zo.o to lift your spirits.
finally, happy summer.