Honestly, I envy Little Girl.
She's relentless and empowered. She just goes for it. She doesn't ever ask permission, she plows forward with force and focus, the way swarms of locusts devour entire fields of crops in a single go. I don't discipline her so much as try to get a running start to keep ahead of her. It rarely works. Mostly, it's easier to be pulled along by her determination the way an inner tube is pulled by a speedboat running full throttle. White-knuckled, I'm just kind of hanging on trying to enjoy the ride without getting a face full of water. I suppose this is what people mean when they give you that look—you know the one—and tell you that your child is spirited.
We call her the "original sister" because she's the family insister, resister, persister.
She's wild, in a happy way. Irresistibly alive. You don't really know what she'll do next. Where she'll insist, what she'll resist, how she'll persist.
I'm in love with her. And so tired.
Yesterday, we made cupcakes, by which I mean, Little Girl started making cupcakes and then summoned me. I walked by the kitchen and saw her standing in her rainbow dress and dirty unicorn knee socks on the counter, inventorying the baking shelf like she knew how to read, which she does, almost, in the way kindergarteners know how to read. She likes to organize the sprinkles. When I came out again 5 minutes later, everything was laid ready for cupcakes: mixing bowl, ingredients, measuring cups, cupcake tins lined with halloween wrappers, eggs had already been cracked.
"I have no intention of making cupcakes," I said flatly.
"But we are making cupcakes," she said, gesturing before her.
So we made cupcakes.
Miss Charlotte works the same way. She may be in her 70s, but she will show up unannounced at your door in mid-January with bulbs, trowels, and mountains of gardening books, give you the same look Little Girl gives you when she is burdened with purpose, and declare: "We are planting today. You said you wanted a garden."
There's not much of a choice, really, when a small woman with bright white screw curls tamed, barely, into a perfect bob tells you what to do, you do it. And you're grateful. Because I did want a garden, I just lacked that push feeling, which is what I think they mean by spirited children, who turn into spirited adults—that push feeling. To get things done, to go out and do and see what happens next.
We're all born with it, that push feeling, just sometimes, we put it away or try to extinguish it because it's so risky to insist on what you want, persist in it, resist the obstacles thrown up in your path. It's easy to live without that push feeling, to numb it, try to silence it, with stupid, vapid things. Consume things instead of create things. It doesn't work, though. You can't silence it or lock it away in a small dark cupboard in the basement of your soul. That push feeling is creativity, the universal human spirit. If that energy doesn't come out in the way it's meant to, it won't be benign. It will turn sour and fester, spread rot inside you like a cancer.
Spring has that push feeling all over the place, it is that push feeling. Plants leafing out, peepers singing, songbirds returning from their wintering grounds.
That push feeling asks "what's next what's next what's next" the same way a chickadee sings it's name. Over and over and over again, insistent. It wants you to pay attention, demands you make something.
Growth. Purpose. Determination.
Those daffodils we planted in January with Miss Charlotte are smiling hello at us when we work on our school in the backyard now. She's a real sister—insister, resister, persister. She lent me her strength and experience to help me realize a vision I had, even when I lost momentum.
I think Little Girl will turn into Miss Charlotte if I ride my motherhood with her right: spirit doesn't diminish in the wind, it multiplies, it spreads like wildfire, leaving flowers in its wake.
I'm trying hard to pay closer attention to that push feeling inside of me—where I want to insist, resist, persist. Trying to trust it.
Trying to press on toward what's next what's next what's next.