I am marking this date in my calendar: September 26, 2018. About 7:40 a.m. The first time that my daughter has sped up to walk ahead of me and said, “I’m pretending I’m not with you.”
We were walking up the hill to the car, because last night, getting home late from a board meeting, I couldn’t find any place to park on our block. And I had forgotten this point when making the decision not to get dressed before driving her to school, so I was walking up the hill in my pajamas. They are green, with little polar bears all over them. To be perfectly honest, I was pretending I wasn’t with me too.
Helping the soon-to-be middle school student purge her room in advance of a desk and new bed, we are discovering just how much stuff a fairly non-acquisitive upper-middle-class U.S. American accumulates over 11 years. We’re also encountering treasures like this, a card she colored and wrote to initiate a game; she reckons she was six.
We played Owl Post sometimes, with Indigo, in an owl costume, bearing messages between me and Joy. (“What do you want for dinner? Isn’t this owl cute?” “How about couscous? I’ll cook. Yes, she is.” “Yum. I’ll come up soon and clean the kitchen.” “Great, thanks.” Etc.) I don’t remember any Delivery Cat version; Indigo says she didn’t give us the card. It’s as cute as the costume would have been, though. Grin grin grin.
Two conversations from this morning tell me Indigo’s education is coming along just fine.
Indigo: It’s Pi Day.
Amy: Oh, right! Happy Pi Day.
Indigo: I know the first thirty digits of pi.
Amy, mishearing this as “three” and therefore expecting the response “three point one four”: Oh yes?
Indigo: Yep. (proceeds to give the first 30 digits of pi)
– – –
Several city schools were listed online as planning walkouts, but not hers; most were middle or high schools, including the middle school she’ll be starting at next year, and I assumed that she didn’t even know about the idea. So I broached it:
Amy: If you want to walk out at 10 today, you can do that, because–
Indigo: Yes, we all are. For, I forget how long. For all the people who have been killed.
Amy: ! ! !
Indigo: I want a snake.
Me: . . .
I: I want a trained boa constrictor.
Me: Trained? Trained to do what?
Indigo: Um . . . Not constrict me.
Contrary to popular opinion, one does not necessarily get one’s Hogwarts admission letter on one’s eleventh birthday. (Remember? Harry’s start arriving weeks earlier. It’s just that, because his aunt and uncle are so determined not to let him see them, he doesn’t get to actually open one until Hagrid hand-delivers it, which happens to be on his birthday.) We might have a few months to wait before that great day. But today Indigo turns eleven, and that’s pretty magical all on its own.
How did we get from this
Well, however it happened, we’re having a great time with our self-described tween. Over the past year she has:
- played Hamlet.
- flown in the vertical wind tunnel of an indoor skydiving center.
- played in her first violin recital, and then her second one.
- been away from both her parents for two weeks (on a wonderful trip with her Bubbe), five times as long as any previous separation.
- had the disturbing experience of having a teacher she loved and trusted being accused of doing something that was dangerous and foolish, at best; not knowing what she thought of the competing descriptions of what happened; and being okay with that uncertainty.
- learned that people who are very mean and unthinking can be given a lot of power.
- engaged in lots of serious conversations with her classmates and teachers about housing policy, media, slavery, war, advertising . . . (We are really going to miss this school.)
- discovered a rapport with little kids and quite a liking for them.
- memorized a hefty percentage of Hamilton and 100% of the part of Angelica Schuyler.
- learned how to make monoprints and etchings.
- visited four middle schools, asked questions and taken notes, and decided which one she liked best.
- despite all of these signs of maturity, stayed as silly, snuggly, loving, curious, and openhearted as she has always been.
Yep. I still hope we’ll get to Parents’ Day at Hogwarts (or its U.S. equivalent), but if it never happens, there’s already plenty of magic going on around here.
¡Feliz cumpleaños, mija!
Introducing the land of Emor. It first appeared in August, as a collaboration with Indigo’s cousin N. They each took their cards home, and Indigo kept expanding the territory. She can tell you quite a lot about the history, forms of government, currency, flags, and notable events, such as the year there was a ten-month winter.
Map scale: 6″=10 miles.
On the bus today, we passed a sign on which I could not keep myself from commenting: “Eyebrow Care.” Indigo picked up on the humor immediately. “This one needs care,” she said solemnly, pointing to her right eyebrow. “It has the flu.”
We riffed on that for a minute (hospitalization would not be required; the left eyebrow provided good care to the right one), but my conscience was bothering me. As I said to my daughter, I shouldn’t poke fun at people who seek out “eyebrow care.” It’s easy for her and me to laugh, because we are blessed with socially-approved eyebrows. She was surprised at first to hear that some eyebrows are widely considered in need of alteration, and wanted to know what kind.
“Oh, if they’re too thick,” I said, “or meet in the middle.”
“But then they’d look like Frida Kahlo!” she exclaimed. The implication was clearly What could be cooler, and I agreed, silently giving thanks for a brilliant obsessive self-portraitist who saw no reason to pretend her eyebrows were other than they were.
“. . . Or Count Olaf,” she added, her expression growing slightly grim.