4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.
My daughter went on her first date last weekend. They went to the movies. He wore a jacket and a dress shirt. She wore a San Francisco t-shirt from Old Navy, a faded cotton skirt two sizes too small, and stained leggings. I added a Chinese quilted silk jacket with frog closures, but still, not so fancy.
Because, by the way, she’s five and she’d spent the morning climbing in the woods with her siblings. Dirty leggings is her thing.
When I belted her into her booster seat he leaned across her and asked me if she had any allergies. Like modern gentlemen always do. He’d told his mom the night before that he thought she was allergic to ham, so they couldn’t eat ham at the movie theater. Clearly, he was covering all his bases.
Her siblings, ages 8, 7 and 7, circled the car gleefully, like the hyenas from the Lion King, hungry for a sign a weakness. She scolded them from her admirable position in the outgoing SUV. “Stop, guys,” eye roll, “it’s a play date.”
Today I sit in jury duty waiting to see if I’ll be picked for a small local district trial, an extensive superior court trial, or left to go home altogether. The court officer puts in Raiders of the Lost Ark for us to watch while we wait because he’s only allowed to play movies that have nothing to do with modern day politics or culture, apparently. I smile.
Because in 1981 I was asked to go on my first date, although I was ten years old, not five. And the movie I was asked to go see was Raiders of the Lost Ark. I remember the boy called me on the phone and asked me to go, and there was such a feeling of excitement as I twisted the very long mustard yellow phone cord, which I’d strung from the kitchen wall to the hallway and up the stairs, around my finger. He’d asked me.
In retrospect it’s a sort of a grizzly, grown-up movie for a kid. Sitting among my fellow potential jurors, I just watched Marion Ravenwood almost sell her body in a low-cut lace dress to escape captivity, and then Indiana’s foe get his head chopped into pieces by the propeller of a plane. It was the 80’s though. I guess it had romance for the ladies, violence and intrigue for the boys.
My parents said no, of course. I’d never been on a play date either, let alone a date date. They just weren’t a thing we did, and I wasn’t allowed to date date until I was sixteen years old anyway, which seemed a long way off. My sisters still lament that my parents let me go to the senior prom as a freshman. In my household it’s sure evidence of what a fast girl I was.
And it made me sad not to be allowed to go to that movie. He was a smart, sweet boy who sat with me in the group of desks reserved for the highest reading group in our medium-sized, 5th grade, public school classroom. How much trouble would we have gotten in? With his mom in tow and a bucket of popcorn between us, a hug or a fist bump to say good-bye or thank you in the end?
My daughter, on the other hand, went to see the Peanuts movie with her buddy, and his mother sent photos so heart-meltingly sweet, they could replace both Swedish Fish and Jujubees. They had a lovely afternoon of movie watching and popcorn with enough time left to play at the playground together where they ran into a few school friends.
It was a good day, but as far as she’s let us know, it was just another good day among many, with another great friend, like all her other great friends.
Now back in the courthouse, I’m nearing the end of Indiana Jones, the part where the men on the boats pass Marion back and forth, implying that she is an asset to to be traded or sold. We wait for Indiana Jones to climb into the Natzi submarine and rescue his tough-talking love interest in the white silk negligee.
I wait to be chosen for jury duty beside all sorts of men and women, young and old from my district. We sit facing forward, half-watching the movie or lost in individual thoughts. Will it be me who gets picked today or someone else? And how does Indiana Jones rescue her from this one?
And my five-year-old daughter, she sits somewhere among her kindergarten classmates counting handfuls of bricks or playing games with letters or eating a ham-free snack with her buddy. And then she strides ahead in her sparkly sneakers and comfy play-dress with knee-stained leggings, neither too fast or too slow, no one’s asset and at her own bidding, ready to play however she wants.
She waits for no one.
[And no, I didn’t get picked for jury duty. The first 100 jurors had to spend days getting picked for a big superior court trial that likely went on for weeks, and sweet ol’ #105 got to go home with enough time to clean up the breakfast dishes before picking up her kids. Happy dance!]