Add to the list of things they didn’t tell you about parenthood:
Your daughter will take it upon herself to embark on a mission. The objective of this mission is to successfully enter the house so quietly that you don’t even notice until she makes it into the kitchen, where you usually are when they get home, but as stealth is not particularly a strength of hers, every day you hear the doorknob click or the faint sound of footsteps to announce her arrival. However, one day you’ll be standing in the kitchen, price-comparing sneakers for her (she left that morning sporting a pair of yours because all of a sudden her feet had grown a foot), and you’ll look up for no real reason to find her standing four feet away from you, staring at you and grinning madly.
They also didn’t tell you that about thirty minutes later on that same day, you will open the bento-style container in your son’s lunchbox after he’d spent a day at miniature horse camp, and out will fly a fly. It will make a drive for the space directly between your eyes before making a hard left and wheeling off to explore the rest of the house and figure out the best hiding spots in which to hole up as soon as you try to stalk it with a swatter. And later, when your daughter points out that there is a fly in the house and you say, “I know. It flew out of your brother’s lunchbox,” that brother will overhear and begin clapping his hands with what you can only describe as a look of demonic glee on his face before actually pumping his fist triumphantly and exclaiming, “YES! IT WORKED! WE GOT YOU! Arlo, the fly trap worked!” at which point the other brother will leap up and join in the victory dance.
He’s right. They did get you. But the question is: what did YOU ever do to get THEM?
We let Summerly stay up for an extra thirty minutes one night last week to watch some coverage of the Olympics in hopes that swimming would be featured live, but track and field events were happening instead. Earlier in the day, we’d marveled at the physical beauty of a few of the divers (Jennifer Abel, I’m looking at you!), and so when the camera fell upon Sydney McLaughlin, who is so stunning it’s difficult to believe that she’s a real human, I almost fell out of my chair even though I wasn’t even sitting down. That’s how much of a knockout she is, visually at least, and I couldn’t help remarking, “Wow! Yet another beautiful person!”
Summerly replied in that drily adult way she has sometimes, but I didn’t hear what she’d said and so asked her to repeat it. Brian, who was sitting with her on the sofa, responded, “She said, ‘You should see the males!'”
“She did?!” I exclaimed, thinking that this was hilarious but also surprising because I’d never heard her remark on a male person’s attraction factor, though many times she’d pointed out girls or female characters in books or movies whom she found pretty. I’m careful when discussing physical beauty with the kids, making sure to include all shapes and sizes and races and abilities when I remark on peoples’ pleasant appearances, taking advantage of the opportunity to practice inclusion whenever possible (it’s not just the Jennifer Abels and Sydney McLaughlins of the world that garner praise), so I felt a little dismayed that that my daughter’s first commentary about liking what she saw when referring to maleness was about a bunch of Olympic track-and-field athletes whose full-time job it was to be in the kind of physical shape that’s basically impossible for a large majority of Earth’s people. I was kind of hoping that her first expression along these lines would be about how she thought a scrawny boy named Rishi with prominently positioned ears, a lisp, and a smatter of acne was cute. “No, I didn’t, Daddy!” she rebutted in a tone of self-righteous rebuke upon hearing what he’d thought she said. “I said, ‘You should see her NAILS!”
Phew. There’s still hope for Rishi and his ears after all.