children

We Are More Than How We Look

I found a document on my computer today that hadn’t been edited since 2004. It was a letter to a friend, apparently one that I typed, printed, and mailed via USPS because that’s what people did back in ’04. To be honest, the content was really not that exciting. It was more along the lines of, “woke up, ate toast, pined over the boy who sits behind me in math class,” etc. than anything else – exactly what you’d expect from an eleven-year-old.

Except the last paragraph, in which I completely brutalize my body. I mean, it’s really bad. It makes me uncomfortable to think that someone received this letter from me because those were not words that you’d want to casually share in a friendly letter. I feel a strong need to send this person a written apology, like, yesterday, for subjecting them to the completely inappropriate musings of my prepubescent brain. But we aren’t really friends anymore, so I feel like that would come across as more creepy than anything else.

It just got me thinking, like, I always claim that my eating disorder didn’t start until I was nineteen – which I guess technically it didn’t – but there were definitely issues long before that. Before I was run over by the mack truck that is puberty, I was weird-looking. I had a massive overbite with a huge gap between my front teeth, thick Coke-bottle glasses, and an extra six inches in height, a combination that didn’t exactly endear me to my peers. Then once the hormones kicked in, I started growing out instead of up; my hips widened exponentially as my chest very stubbornly refused to budge. My limbs were still too long for me to handle gracefully, and I developed this unyielding mound of flesh on my stomach. Basically, I was never even remotely okay with how I looked.

When I was in fifth grade, I filled out a questionnaire in a stupid book I got for Christmas that asked me all about myself. Favorite color, favorite song (it was Britney Spears’ “Lucky,” by the way), celebrity crush, all the questions you’d expect from a kids’ book. But the answer that struck me the most was the one I wrote next to “favorite thing about yourself.” In my bubbly kid handwriting I had written, “I’m so ugly but at least I’m skinny.”

Whoa, what? Hold on. First of all, when someone asks you your favorite thing about yourself, you can’t lead with “I’m so ugly.” Way to blatantly not answer the question, fifth-grade Gwen. But although my disregard for the rules was shocking, rereading that answer was even more so. I couldn’t think of anything else to write down in that situation? I really thought the best thing about me was that I was skinny (and also apparently ugly)? I was in fifth grade, and my body was already the only thing about me that mattered?

And then in this letter, the letter saved on my computer, I went on and on about how no one was ever going to like me because they wouldn’t be able to look past the disgusting way I looked. My boobs were too small, I reasoned, and my hips too disproportionately large. There was nothing attractive about someone as tall and lopsided as I was. I was destined to die alone and sad, spending my last earthly days surrounded by a clowder of feral cats.

Oh, dear.

I get that being a kid, and being a teenager, and pretty much just being a human, is really difficult. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone in our society who doesn’t struggle with issues of self-esteem and body image every once in a while, especially in the scarring formative environment that is middle school. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that eight- and ten- and twelve-year-old girls, the ones who should be focusing on learning and exploring and all the wonderful things that childhood has to offer, are spending their precious time worrying about whether they’re pretty enough. And that’s heartbreaking.

When I was in fifth grade, I was kind of awesome. I was a great writer, a voracious reader, and a wonderful friend. I had teachers that inspired me and a family that loved me and an imagination that refused to take no for an answer. But when push came to shove, the only positive quality I could drum up was my weight. It’s no small wonder that when I was no longer “skinny enough,” I thought I had nothing left.

But skinny or fat, ugly or pretty, I was never down to nothing. I always had my family, and my sense of humor, and my way with words. Even in the darkest hours of my life, there was always something worth fighting for – something in me. Something that had absolutely nothing to do with what I saw when I looked in the mirror. Because that, what’s on the outside, is just the tiniest fraction of who I am.

I wish I could go back in time and tell my eleven-year-old self that there are so many more important things she could be worrying about, like reading more books or telling people how much she loves them. But since I can’t, I guess it’s just forward motion. Trying hard to remember that I’m so much more than how skinny I am, or am not, or whatever. Swearing that whenever I come across a lost little girl, I’ll do my best to make sure she knows that, too. We’re not just our bodies, no matter what anyone tries to tell us. We are fearsome, and we are beautiful.

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Crippled at Camp: A Love(?) Story

The first time I was wounded at summer camp, I was eleven years old. It was my fault, of course. I was on a sailboat with a couple of other kids, being as obnoxious as you might expect a kid on a sailboat to be, when the swinging boom whacked me full-force on the side of the head.

I don’t remember this event very well, probably as a result of minor head trauma and major embarrassment. I do recall a very panicked teenager who scooped me up in her arms and sprinted to the infirmary. And that the nurse gave me three blue freeze pops while I waited to see if I was going to die.

The summer I was fourteen, I came down with a disgusting stomach flu the night before we were going on an awesome overnight trip. I spent two days in the infirmary that time, watching really terrible movies on a very small TV instead of making s’mores in the woods with my friends. I secretly hoped someone else would get the flu so I would at least have some company. It didn’t work out.

My luck only worsened once I started working there. When I was sixteen and training to be a counselor, I wound up with head lice and a staph infection that had pretty much eroded my flesh from the knees down. When I was seventeen, I got stung by an entire hive of bees. And at nineteen I spent too long standing on the hot sand during lifeguard training and suffered from massive, horrible second-degree burns on the bottoms of my feet. Alright, that one wasn’t all bad; it did necessitate my supervisor literally carrying me wherever I needed to go, which amused the campers a great deal and made me feel like a princess.

In 2012, when I was finally on the leadership staff, I shared this story with my coworkers. We were gathered inside one of the boys senior end tents late at night, watching the candlelight dance on the canvas flaps and talking about what camp meant to us. Our stories were supposed to be meaningful. Mine was about getting maimed.

But they understood what I meant. My story was about strange and improbable injuries, sure, but it was also about deciding that getting hurt wasn’t enough to keep me from going back to camp summer after summer. It was about the knowledge that no matter how tough it got, no matter how many legitimate reasons I had to run away, it was always worth it to stay.

That summer, 2012, had its own share of misfortunes. During the three months I was there, I was caught in a violent downward spiral of anorexia that wreaked havoc on my physical and mental health. And it took me so long to recover from that nosedive that I couldn’t even consider the possibility of going back in 2013.

Three weeks ago, I submitted an application. Today, I called the camp office for an interview. Even after the personal hell I experienced a year and a half ago, I’m going back.

My parents are baffled. And worried. A lot of people are worried. You know what? I’m worried, too. But every year that I’ve been knocked down, I’ve come back stronger. I’m a champion for a cause I love more than anything. Something about it will always be tough, and I might not always come out on top. But as we who have worked there know, it is always, always worth it to stay.

And On The Thirtieth Day…

Well, folks, I did it.

As soon as I hit publish on this post, I will have officially blogged every day of November. And that’s pretty high on my list of things I never thought were possible.

I would like to thank the community at yeah, write! especially my wonderful rowmies Susannah, E., Michelle, and Sam. I was a terrible rowmie caught up in my own little world, but even though I didn’t comment on your posts, I always, always read them, and they were wonderful. I’d also like to thank team Nano Poblano, with a special shoutout to Rarasaur for organizing a fabulous group effort. It was amazing how many Poblanos got freshly pressed this month, and it just goes to show that writing every day really does improve your craft.

Honestly, I’m glad this month is over. Blogging every day was fun, but it may or may not have contributed to a few slight dips in my GPA. Or maybe more than a few. Also, I felt like a lot of the stuff I published this month was of lower quality than I’m used to publishing, which is kind of hard to stomach for a perfectionist. I think I like writing better pieces less often. But you know what? I’m glad I participated in my first NaBloPoMo. And even though it killed me…I might even do it again.

Now, if you all will excuse me, I’m going back to a ridiculous photoshoot with my four-year-old cousin. Because sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

Photo on 11-30-13 at 3.52 PM #2

Thanks for the Memories

This Thanksgiving, I am surrounded by family – doting grandparents, fabulous aunt and uncle, adorable tiny cousins. Sure, I’m sad that I’m not with my parents or my brother this year, but if I had to be stuck anywhere else, I’m glad it’s here.

Screenshot 2013-11-28 19.51.51

Oh, and you know who ISN’T at the Thanksgiving table this year?

My eating disorder.

Feels pretty damn amazing.

I Remember

When I was three or four years old, we moved from a little ranch on a crowded street to a house that had three stories and a two-car garage. Not surprisingly, I don’t remember much about the move. Sometimes I have a fragment of a memory – a quick image of the view from the top of the stairs, the feeling of the carpet underneath my feet – but before they can come together into something whole, I lose the picture. My first two houses are buried somewhere in my memory, overshadowed by my vivid recollections of the past thirteen or so years.

One day when I was walking with my mother, I had one of those flashes. I remembered a girl, a little younger than me, with curly hair and a big smile. I remembered her name for just a second, not long enough to speak it aloud.

“Hey, Mom, do you remember that girl I used to play with when we lived on Churchhill?” I asked as we moseyed along the sidewalk. “Curly hair…I think she had a baby sister, maybe?”

“Hillary,” she responded. “She came to your birthday tea party.”

“Yeah, I remember,” I said, searching my memory for more information about her. Maybe my mom had given me some retrieval cues. I had a vague, blurry picture of that birthday party in my mind, a bunch of four-year-old girls in poofy dresses drinking water out of tiny little teacups. Sure enough, more information surfaced. “Her sister was sick?” I added tentatively. “Right?”

“Yep,” Mom answered.

“Whatever happened to her?”

She didn’t look at me. “Oh. She died.”

The words jarred me. I combed through every memory I had in my head, trying to find some remnant of the tiny human to associate with this tragedy, but I came up empty. Maybe I’d never seen her. Maybe I’d forgotten her. All I could find to represent her was this blurry, probably inaccurate picture of her four-year-old sister. My heart ached at the thought of little Hillary, who met and lost her baby sister in less than the length of her own short lifetime.

I thought of my brother, who had been almost a baby himself when we lived in that house. The monster who used to drive me crazy, who once drew blood because he bit me in the back. The boy that grew up to become my best friend.

Life is brief. No one stays around forever. But I thank God for giving me the gift of watching my little brother grow up. Through his awkward phase, through his annoying phase, through his morose stage – even at the worst, he was there. I never had to face anything alone. And every time I think of him, I remember them. Claire, the one who never got to steal her sister’s toys or become her best friend. And Hillary, the one who never got to experience the joy and laughter and madness of being a big sister. At least not to her.

I bet not a lot of people remember her. I do.

Where’s My Story?

As long as I can remember, I’ve never been at a loss for a story.

Before I learned to read, I would pluck books from the bookshelves in my house and make up an elaborate tale about the characters in the pictures. If the book didn’t have pictures, well, that just meant my imagination could run even wilder. And if there were no books to my liking on the shelf, I would grab a catalog from the mail stack and use that instead. Catalogs, full of pictures, were perfect fodder for my creative brain. I would name the models, give them personalities and motivations and adventures, and fall in love with their spirits. They were little pieces of me, and they got to do all the things I never could.

In high school, I took a “writing for college” class that was supposed to help us with our college essays. I didn’t have very many I needed to write, but during the semester I spent in that room I must have written at least thirty personal statements. For no reason. I was just happy to be telling a story, my story.

And somehow, after all those years of always finding something to write about, I am dry.

Posting every day is a challenge unlike any I’ve undertaken before. My days are mundane, filled with calculus problems and long treks to buildings across campus. I always have between three and five papers I should be writing for my religion class. And every time I sit down at my computer, ready to write something hilarious or moving that will cure the monotonous boredom of my life – crickets. Nothing. Empty.

It is times like these when I wonder if I can really be a writer at all. Writers can’t write without a story.

 

The Letter That Never Came

It is raining. Typical for a spring morning, but as the saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers.” Now it’s May, and it’s still raining. I stare at the rain as it drips slowly down the panels of my living room window. The clouds are gray and everything seems gloomy, yet I am sitting cross-legged on the windowsill, a hopeful glint in my big blue eyes. It is the middle of a school week, a Wednesday, but today is different. It is my eleventh birthday. Today I will be treated like a star; I will eat too much frosting and ravenously rip off wrapping paper. And most importantly, at least, to me, today an owl will fly through my window and deliver my Hogwarts letter, beginning my double existence as a wizard.

For months I have been analyzing my magical abilities as they develop, tracking each emotional outburst and its supernatural results. I have been practicing simple spells, and while they haven’t yet worked, I am sure it’s just because I haven’t gone to Ollivander’s and gotten the proper wand. I have gotten my hands on every piece of magical information; I have book lists printed out and a plain black robe hanging on the back of my door. Everything that I could have done since I learned of my potential has been accomplished. All that remains is to see that owl swoop from the sky and hand me my destiny.

My perch on the windowsill is vacated when my mother reminds me that I still have to catch the bus to school. I am reluctant to leave, but at least I know I will be back in just six hours. I am confident that if the owl comes while I’m at school, he will be able to manage to wait a few more hours for me. They’re pretty smart creatures, those owls.

My day at school is uneventful; I celebrate with my friends and share cupcakes on the playground, but my mind is elsewhere. I don’t tell anyone about the cake I’ve seen my mother making or the mound of presents that is waiting for me on the kitchen table. The only thing I can chatter about (although secretly, because not everyone can know about the wizarding world) is the letter that is only a short time away and will change my life.

“You know,” a snooty voice tells me, “all that stuff isn’t real, right? Harry Potter and his stupid school thing. Somebody just made it up and wrote about it. You actually believe that stuff’s real? You’re so stupid. I bet you believe in Santa Claus, too, huh?”

I don’t want to look behind me. I hear the laughter; it is pulsating in my brain. Tears begin to well up in my eyes. They’re making fun of me. I try to blurt out that it is real, and that I have proof, and that they will be sorry one day when I can bat-bogey hex them right off the playground. But I can only come up with a feeble sneeze, which just makes them laugh harder. I have never been so embarrassed. I have a horrible sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach telling me that I have been deceived, that my letter will never come. I don’t have any magical ability, with or without an Ollivander’s wand. I have not made unexplainable things happen out of anger or fear. Years of preparation and I will never be able to levitate objects or duel my enemies. I can’t believe I fell for such an extravagant lie. Tears begin to slide down my cheeks like the morning’s raindrops on the windowpane.

I remember, then; it’s still my birthday. Regardless of the fact that I’m not going to be whisked away to a school of witchcraft and wizardry, I’m still turning eleven. I still have the hot pink ribbon that says “Birthday Girl” pinned to my jacket. There is still a huge pile of presents on the table that could contain anything at all. The cake my mother has been slaving over for days is still sitting on my counter, ready for me to make a wish on the eleven candles. And besides, I don’t really want to go to boarding school. I’d miss my mom and my dad and even my annoying eight-year-old brother.

I wipe my face with the sleeves of my jacket and stare up at the gray sky. It’s not raining anymore; the clouds are starting to slowly clear and let the sun shine through. I’m not a wizard, sure, but I’m only eleven. My future is an unwritten story, and I am completely free to unfold it any way I want.

Leeches: A Love Story

I was sitting at the picnic table in the sun, carefully organizing swim cards by cabin, when one of my staff members ran over to me with a look of terror and urgency.

My mind immediately started running through every horrifying possibility. Did a kid drown? Did we lose one somehow? Did somebody get a spinal injury? What was going on?

But it was even worse than that.

One of the campers had a leech stuck on his arm.

Now, I am a tad bit sadistic when it comes to leeches. I love killing them. It gives me a strange satisfaction to watch them writhe in pain until they stop moving altogether. But children do not see them as potential prey, rather as predators who will probably suck the life out of them within the minute. Children don’t understand how easy it is to kill them. And the second one kid comes out of the water with a leech, that’s it – none of them step even a toe in the lake for the rest of the week.

Those damn little buggers. I was the head of the swimming department and it was my job to make sure the campers got the swimming lessons their parents were promised, but leeches did a really excellent job of making my duties significantly harder.

I ran to the swim box and grabbed my trusty salt shaker. “Take me to him,” I ordered the counselor firmly. By the time we ran across the beach to where the victim sat frozen, wide-eyed, with his leeched arm thrust high into the air, I knew it was too late to save my swim lessons. Those kids were never going back in the water.

“NO!” the boy yelped as I reached toward his arm. He swung it away from me. “AAAHHH! WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME?!”

The other campers began to form a circle around their screaming, hollering friend. I shook nearly the entire supply of salt into the sand while trying desperately to get at least some of it on the bloodsucking creature that was ruining my life. But even after it was handicapped enough for the still-frantic victim to shake it loose, everyone on the beach was completely out of their minds. Kids were yelling obscenities and running toward the tree line, far away from the water. Counselors were sprinting after the ones who thought they’d make a clean escape under the rope lines. Chaos. My department was lost in utter and absolute chaos.

As I looked at the scene unfolding around me, I was overwhelmed by my sheer lack of control. I had no power to stop that kid from attracting a leech. I had no authority over the gut reactions of a bunch of 8-year-olds. I had no way of calming them down, and no idea of how to convince them that swimming lessons were still a good idea. I was standing in the eye of a hurricane, with no way of directing the wind.

Suddenly, I started to laugh. Fear wasn’t doing me any good. Guilt wasn’t doing me any good. This was a moment of madness, a moment that would one day make a hilarious story (barring some strange turn of events where something legitimately terrible happened). My lack of control meant that it wasn’t my fault. And so, free of the weight of blame, I laughed.

I managed, with the help of my staff, to wrangle all sixty or so kids into some semblance of an orderly line so they could tag out of the swim section. After they returned to their cabins, I performed my normal cleanup routine, picking up lost towels and discarded sand pails. Everything was sane again.

As I plucked the empty salt shaker from the sand where it had landed, I couldn’t help but smile. Oh, tomorrow was going to be hard, I knew that, but today had reminded me of the unpredictability of life. And that was a beautiful thing.

12 Things the World Needs to Get Over

1) Girls poop.

While this originally only bothered the feminist side of me, lately I’ve realized that what I thought was a predominantly male misogynistic idea has extended into female-female interactions as well. Like, why do I feel embarrassed when I poop in a public toilet, surrounded by only other females? Because even girls have grown to believe that it’s unladylike to defecate! Ladies and gentlemen, this is ridiculous. Do we need to provide every US citizen with a copy of “Everybody Poops”?

2) Politicians suck.

Stop pretending like you’re personally offended by the amorality of politics. That’s why it’s politics. The people you actually trust would make terrible politicians, because politicians are liars pretty much by definition. They want your vote, not your friendship, so stop expecting them to actually care about what you say. Unless you have money and influence, in which case they’re bound to listen.

3) Everybody can’t win.

Someone once affectionately referred to my generation as the “cupcake generation.” Everybody gets a cupcake. And that’s kind of true (even though I can’t eat cupcakes because they’re full of gluten). When I played Under-12 soccer, every person got a trophy at the end of the season, even though the team was terrible and I was terrible and nobody was really even remotely good at soccer. In fact, I ended up with a shelf covered in trophies that I freely admit I didn’t earn. There is no such thing as “A for effort.” Sometimes you actually suck at things, and you crash and burn and fail miserably, and nobody’s going to give you a trophy for trying. Life is full of competitions where there is a clearly defined winner, and everybody else loses. It happens. I mean, I’m a firm believer that everybody can win at something, but nobody can win at everything. Besides, getting accolades you don’t deserve just makes the real accolades less meaningful.

4) Kids are going to do whatever the hell they want.

I’m lookin’ at you, US government. Replacing the Pop-Tarts in high school vending machines with tiny packages of peanuts and banning coffee during school hours isn’t going to change the world, it’s just going to piss a lot of people off. Anyone who’s seriously addicted to caffeine is going to find a way to consume it, and large groups of obnoxious male athletes are going to end up at McDonalds every single day. This is just a specific example of a general need people have to exercise control over everyone around them. Educating kids about proper nutrition and safe sex is a way better idea than shoving kale chips and abstinence down their throats, because really, they’re going to do whatever they feel like doing, and they should probably at least be smart about it.

5) Adults are too.

Everybody drives at least 5 miles per hour over the speed limit. Unless you’re that asshole who remains at a solid 20 no matter what road he’s on. Rules are meant to be broken, right?

6) Watermelon-flavored things taste better than watermelon.

Yeah, I know real watermelon is healthier than fake watermelon. But that’s because real watermelon is pretty much just slightly flavored water with seeds in it. It’s disappointing, like drinking really diluted orange juice. Fake watermelon, on the other hand, is just the right combination of sweet and sour. Sour Patch Watermelon, watermelon jolly ranchers, watermelon jellybeans…washed down, of course, with a nice tall glass of water so you still feel refreshed. Now THAT’S a summertime treat.

7) There are things that don’t need to be proven.

Call it whatever you like – the Powers that Be, the hand of God, the way it is – but some things just are, without any satisfying explanation. Science and math are wonderful, beautiful things, and I am a huge advocate of using them to solve real-world problems. But it’s okay for science to leave some things unexplained. I mean, people have tried for years to prove or disprove the existence of God using complex mathematical equations, to no avail. And people who have real faith wouldn’t care even if there WAS a solution. The most meaningful things in life are those which cannot even be expressed in words, much less in theorems. Sometimes we just have to let those be. We can’t solve everything.

8) Grammar is a dying art.

You can fight like hell to make sure every one of your Facebook friends uses “your” and “you’re” properly, but the fact of the matter is that the next generation sees both of those words as “ur.” There’s nothing you can do about that. They will go through their lives probably never hearing the terms “gerund” or “dependent clause,” because Microsoft Word will essentially write their papers for them. It’s horribly depressing, I know, but we have to let it go.

9) The Kardashians.

I feel like this is pretty self-explanatory. Getting invested in Kim’s butt implants and failed marriages is probably doing nothing for you but lowering your IQ by a couple of points every day.

10) People make mistakes.

For some reason, we have a tendency to believe that there are some people in this world who are absolutely, 100% perfect. Sometimes it’s a celebrity, sometimes a mentor, sometimes a friend, but when we idolize people, we forget that they’re human too, and everyone ends up under a lot of unnecessary pressure. And then we run into problems like thirteen-year-old girls crying hysterically because Justin Bieber smoked weed. Well guess what, little girl, your parents probably did too, and they turned out okay.

11) Mental illness is everywhere.

We can ignore it all we want, but we can’t change the facts. According to a 2008 study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, about 5% of the US population had been diagnosed with a serious mental illness (defined as “a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder diagnosable currently or within the past year which results in serious functional impairment and substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.”) And that doesn’t even take into consideration all the people suffering in silence. We seriously need to rethink the way we, as a culture, address the topic of mental health.

12) Shit happens.

Sometimes life deals you a crap hand and then kicks you while you’re down. It happens to literally everybody. You can’t escape the shit. But that doesn’t mean you should whine about it, either. Every experience teaches you something, even if it’s as simple as “I don’t ever want that to happen again.” You learn, you adapt, you change, you grow, and you almost always emerge from situations with a stronger sense of who you are. We could all benefit from realizing that even when things are going rather poorly, we are lucky to be given the chance to live through them.

A Walk in the Park

It’s really amazing, some of the things that little kids know and understand. I seem to think I have things figured out, but nothing is ever quite the way I see it. A little change in perspective; for example, the perspective of a three-year-old; can sometimes be enough to make you think a little differently.

This is my cousin Jillian posing in front of Oz Park.

This kid is a bundle of CRAZY energy. I never see her slow down except when she’s sleeping – and even then, she’s probably having all sorts of adventures in her dreams, so that doesn’t even count. When we went to the park this afternoon, she was running every which way, through play structures and down slides, up stairs, on swings – it was nearly impossible to even follow her with our eyes, much less actually follow her! It was a beautiful day, though, and it was really very nice to be outside. The sun was warm and the leaves were all nice and crunchy, like they should be in the fall. Jillian spent a lot of time kicking the leaves and/or hitting them with a stick. I’m not sure what the appeal of that particular activity is, but I’m also not three so I’m not going to pretend I understand.

Anyway, it was nice to have some time to be outside and have a chat with my mom and my aunt about life direction, which I’ve been struggling a lot with lately. They definitely had different college experiences than each other (and also than me) and it’s always helpful to hear other people’s opinions about the things on which I meditate daily. It seems like everybody has gone through a similar directional crisis at some point, and at least I’ve been able to identify mine at a time when I have a great opportunity to reflect and refocus. Hopefully with the extra few months I’ve acquired before the next time I start classes, I’ll be able to spend some energy sort of figuring out what comes next for me.

Of course, like any good afternoon in the park, it ended with ice cream.

If there’s anything Jillian did NOT need at this point in the afternoon, it was sugar (aka more energy). But she is just so adorable when she gets sprinkles all over her face!

She also seemed so genuinely concerned about the fact that I wasn’t eating ice cream, and proceeded to question me thoroughly about it. “Where’s your ice cream?” she asked. Followed by, “don’t you LIKE ice cream?” And when I answered that yes, of course I liked ice cream, she appeared even more concerned that I wasn’t eating it. That’s why I love seeing her perspective; everything is so black-and-white for her. In her three-year-old brain, me liking ice cream + me being in an ice cream shop should = me eating ice cream, because that’s just the way it is. I wish it really was that simple. It kills me that someday she’s going to grow up and be able to understand why I didn’t eat any ice cream. I wish everybody’s mind worked just like hers, especially mine. Because I really could have gone for a Pumpkin Pie Blizzard.

When I get back to school, the first thing I’m going to do is take Jillian out for ice cream. And I’m going to chase her around the park and push her on the swing and do all the things I didn’t have the energy to do for her today. She’s a smart kid. She deserves it.