As much as I intended to remain staunchly anonymous, well...vanity, vanity, all is vanity. This post is an anecdote about my adorable 3-year-old, whose name is, obviously, Ella. And I really thought myself clever with the title, so...there you have it.
This past weekend was one of "my" weekends with the kids - and, as Lemmy can certainly attest, I'm a different person at those times. Like many of us, I fall prey to periods of bluesy melancholy, and sometimes even succumb to out-and-out depression; but when my kids are with me, I'm animated and happy, very much in my element, and I cannot help but think about the times past when - I'll admit it - my kids sometimes felt...cumbersome. If only, if only. Not to mention, I've heard many a person complain about their kids - and it's not like I wasn't sometimes one of them - and I think, I'd give a pinky finger to have what I had...and lost. Or, if I'm being perfectly frank, what I gave away.
So, to the point. This past Saturday morning, my daughter and I were playing with her many, many babies. As an aside, there is a disorder called, I believe, Reactive...something, that stems entirely from a child's inadequate maternal bonding during their first year of life. As I've mentioned previously, I spent six months in what is euphemistically called an "alternative" facility - actually, a community-based correctional facility that is, strictly speaking, a very low-security jail, but is conducted more along the lines of a rehabilitation center. By "rehabilitation" I am, of course, referring in part to substance abuse; however, it's a far more holistic approach than that and I honestly know of almost no one who couldn't benefit from what they do there. In fact, my sister, in pursuit of a master's degree, was required to take a course that almost perfectly mimicked some of the "courses" I was required to take during my stay. At any rate, the disorder to which I previously referred manifests itself at around 5 years of age and is marked by violent tendencies and outbursts. It doesn't stop there, though, and considering that my husband and I divorced RIGHT before Ella's first birthday, well...just add this to the list of damages about which I was worried. It has been to my GREAT relief that she is extremely maternal...and I do mean extremely. She fusses ceaselessly over any life-form that's even a minute younger or a tad smaller than her, and the baby-doll play is among her favorite. I am "Gammy", the dolls' grandmother, and, thankfully, I factor hugely into these activities.
Saturday morning, as I sat with a lapful of dolls, she fussed about, feeding everyone their bottles and checking diapers (I have sacrificed many a paper towel to make dolly diapers, and double-sided tape functions amazingly well as a fastener - it works almost like real diaper-tabs). She then told me that she was going to feed everyone baby food, and proceeded to pretend to be taking something down from an imaginary cupboard, opening "jars", pouring "food" into "bowls", and mixing everything with "spoons". I said, "So, what are you feeding your babies? Applesauce? Peaches? Squash? Peas?" With great solemnity she said, "No. I'm giving them strange mangoes." Well...she was so serious, I didn't have the heart to laugh out loud, but I did ask her about this. "El? Don't you mean...strained mangoes?" No, she adamantly replied. Strange mangoes.
And I think I like it better her way. It also sounds like an awesome name for a band...or maybe for the hopefully-some-day book. Because, to be perfectly honest, sometimes life is, well, like a bowlful of strange mangoes.