Friday, April 16, 2010

“No No Nanny”

The story of my first born...

My daughter is not Nanny, or Nan, or Nancy, or Nanette, but one of her first ever sentences, when she was younger than two, was when she woke up from a nap. I heard her and went in to find her head under the blanket, she peeked up giggling, and said, “Where Nanny go?” As the joking first refusal or correction since then, I've said, “No, No, Nanny.” Though when I call her something, No No is the choice.

No No is turning 15 next week (but today is our N day, so there we have it). Here she is with her lifetime best friend, who happens to live in Canada now, but we try to get the girls together once a year or so. I'm not too worried. No No has been a teenager since she was four. We've got the system down. It's funny. My son is a far easier child, much more like me in most ways—does his school work because 'it's just what you do,' engages in sports as a social event, but isn't terribly competitive, likes word play and reading. He's a chip off the old block.

But if I will have a writer in the family besides me, it will be No No. No No sees the world in larger than life terms. Everything is WONDERFUL or HORRIBLE. There is no middle ground. But she has an artistic gift... visual, musical, and verbal. She also LOVES to write, if it isn't … you know... organized. I thought maybe I'd tell some childhood stories on her to illustrate this, because they so perfectly display her gifts.


I have no idea where the silly streak comes from *shifty*

Noticing Notes

I sang the A,B,C's to her when she was about two. She segued directly into Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. She was two. I was 30. SHE KNEW it was the same tune, and until she started singing, I had not noticed. She constantly baffled me at this age. My life was falling apart in some ways. Her dad was a MESS for a solid 18 months during this time, so I was pretty much a single mom, and this little miracle would come out with these bursts of GENIUS.


ANGRY WORDS

I managed to keep some rules for myself though... I NEVER yelled.... erm... except when the dog (a dalmatian lab mix puppy with anxiety issues) drug garbage all over the house or chewed up a couch (which he did 3 times). One night when I was trying to get No No ready for bed, I told her it was time to get her jammies on. You know what she said to me (she was TWO—barely two). She said, “You're a dumb dog!” You see... when someone was mad and yelled in her universe, that was what they said... they yelled something about the dumb dog... Her little brain had calculated that when somebody really pissed them off, you called them a dumb dog. *snort*


Always a Critic

I didn't get out much at this part of my life. I worked at a Microbrewery. I was tinkling away very slowly at my Master's Thesis. But socially, I didn't have a lot of outlets. The day job was a contra-indicator for make-up (greasy environment and frequent sweat) and why else WOULD I, but at one point I was invited to a party. A friend was watching her (or maybe her dad, even though he didn't live there) and I was getting ready. She came into the bathroom while I applied eye shadow and mascara and frowned at me. I picked her up and she pointed. “What's that?” I laughed and said, “It's make-up. Don't you like it?” She scrunched her face and shook her head. “It's too spicy.” She said, definitively, sure she'd expressed herself perfectly... the thing is, SHE HAD. It just wasn't words I would have put to it--being constrained... you know, by how people USUALLY say things.

Then, at about 2 ½, I was singing to her... she covered my mouth... she shook her head... I may still have been her favorite person, but she had solidly decided I wasn't going away if she expressed that I couldn't carry a tune (which is sadly true)... She didn't let me sing again until she was about five when she realized I knew a lot of songs with really silly lyrics...

The criticisms now usually pertain to my clothing choices.  I'm not very hip (or so I hear).


No No is in green here, not the tallest—the person on the far left is actually male (possibly transgendered—he's LOVELY—BEAUTIFUL, and definitely plays up his feminine attributes—these are her friends from camp she went to Chicago with--I LOVE that they hold hands.  I don't know if it's generational or Ann Arbor, but they also tell each other they love each other all the time.  When I grew up we were paranoid about being called gay, so I hope TIMES have changed.)


No No has some challenges ahead. It's time for her to fully come to the table in terms of academic responsibility. She is smart, but not great at book learning or memorizing, and has REAL math and organizational challenges. She is approaching the years when we add driving, substance experimentation, and... dare I say it... sex... to the mix. She has been open about the topics to date. I hope my approach (risk reduction---decisions based on trust and communication with whoever your with, whatever you're doing) will keep her communicating.

She has such a strong personality though—a charismatic leader with her friends. And she is really committed as an athlete (which offers at least SUBSTANCE use protection—teams kick people off for pretty much anything. So I have to believe her future is very bright. It just may take a few years before it is unturbulent...

31 comments:

TreeX said...

Can I just say that that last shot is gorgeous!! =D

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

I really enjoyed reading this. I think it's the first post I've read from you that was about your life behind the screen. :) Your daughter sounds amazing - and you sound like you have everything completely under control. I love how you are so open and understanding of her. I wish I had have had a mother like that. I think of my mother wasn't so drug affected, she would have been, though. In her 'sane' moments she was everything I could have dreamed of.

Curious: What does a dalmatian lab mix look like. Have you got any pics?

I love, 'It's too spicy." hahahha classic.

Not enough hours! said...

Thing One is a wonderful person, and though a bit of a challenge to you right now, I am sure she will eventually be a Somebody!
I have heard these stories before, and my favourite of course is the one about your face being spicy.

Watery Tart said...

Joris-Chicago is a VERY photogenic city, oddly--I think the angle they sit at to the sun and the architecture make for great lighting.

Jessica-thank you! I don't do the personal stuff too often, but every once in a while. My mother, oddly, is TOO SANE. Her overdeveloped sense of responsibility has left her humorless and judgmental. I try with my kids. I can be neglectful (you know how writers get stuck in their heads rather than in life) but I had the wisdom to marry a man with more nurturing inclinations, and I DO talk about EVERYTHING. I will look for a picture of Henry--I have one on my work computer, I'm sure, so maybe I will add it when I get there. Mostly he looked like a dalmatian on steroids (he was just 'too thick' but his coat was dalmatian)

Watery Tart said...

Natasha, you snuck in on me! I love the spicy one too--the fact that she could pull out appropriate words, even though she didn't know what a Tart was *snort* Thank you!

Cheri Bear said...

Tami, I'm almost 40 now and was having a conversation with my Mom a couple weeks ago and without knowing, I paid her the highest compliment. We were talking about my teenage years and the many many mistakes I had made. How you learn from them and all that jazz. I told her the one thing that helped me through so many difficult and unsure times was the fact that no matter what it was, no matter how much trouble or how difficult the situation would be to explain, I could always without any doubts or hesitation, talk to her about ANYTHING. Just as I felt with my Mom, No No may not choose to speak with you about everything, but she will always know that she can, and sometimes in the mind of a teenager, that is the most secure feeling in the entire world.
Love you Sweetie, you are doing and have done and excellent job!

TreeX said...

Yeah, I suppose that's the drawback of building everything aligned to the compass, instead of the sun like they do in Europe :)

Jan O'Hara (aka hope101) said...

She's a beauty, Hart, and yeah, you're probably in for a bit of turmoil. Like you, though, I believe a close child-parent relationship is the best protector one can have against outside influences. She also sounds like she knows her own mind; IMHO, that's 99% of the battle.

Watery Tart said...

Cher-Bear-that's so true--you may not ACTUALLY talk, but knowing you CAN makes a bit difference. She tests me sometimes, asking 'what ifs' to see what might possibly freak me out, but I think I usually remain level-headed.

Joris-that's because many European cities were laid out before they did such things regularly--the benefit from just being so darned OLD.

Jan--she DOES know her own mind, and in the category where my own choices were the worst (boys) she is VERY level-headed. She is her mother's daughter though, and often enough, even though I didn't succumb to peer pressure, I led the bunch into mischief because it was my idea...

Lola Sharp said...

My daughter is 14, and it is a challenge. When she is PMS-ing, even the dogs steer clear of her mood swings.

I love the the photos, especially that last one...the lighting, the composition, the hand holding, the boy-girl. Lovely. Perfect.

Thanks for sharing.

WELCOME TO MY WORLD OF POETRY: said...

Your daughter sonds a very lovely girl.
I did so much enjoy reading this blog,
May you and your family have a good week-end.

Yvonne.

Megan said...

Hart, this is a great blog. Your daughter is beautiful and intelligent.

Sometimes you and I are so much alike it's frightening. :) We have a lot of the same ideas about how to raise a child. Open communication, honesty. It allows them to be open and honest with us. For them to know it's okay to talk to us, we won't judge.

Your No No sounds like a mix of my two kids.

And the hand holding thing, my kids do it to all the way out here in Washington. I think because sexual orientation is being accepted more and more, girls don't think anything about hold hands. They just do it. And they tell each other they love each other.(hetero boys of course is another thing)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sounds like No No is destined for great things!

Watery Tart said...

Lola *snort* Poor dog! teehee THANK YOU!

Yvonne, thank you! You have a great weekend, too!

Megan-I'm glad we have a lot in common, as I think you're pretty darned smart! And it doesn't surprise me that west of the Cascades is just as open--I lived in Portland long enough to know the open-mindedness. Ann Arbor, in spite of sitting in the midwest, is pretty liberal, and there is actually a 'gay-chic' (kids trying it on because it's 'cool' rather than because they're really compelled), but that is okay with me because it means the kids who truly are gay are far more accepted. I agree though, the acceptance is related to the hand-holding and openness, and I love that affection between friends.

Alex, thank you! I'm pretty sure she'll rule the world some day, so be ready for that!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I'm still in denial that the teen years mean that anything will change. (Yes, that's me rocking back and forth, fingers in my ears, going "lalala.")

She's a beautiful girl...you'll have your hands full. LOVE those stories---she definitely sounds like a creative writer.

Elizabeth

Mystery Writing is Murder

B. Miller said...

Hart, I really liked reading this entry. As always it's well written and entertaining, but you can really see the love in your words. I loved the little stories you shared with us... my mom has some of those about me. I guess every mother stores them up, huh? Thank you so much for sharing No No with us. Have a great weekend and good luck on finishing up your chapters!!!

Watery Tart said...

Elizabeth, your denial is only possible because you had a BOY first. Your daughter will be a teen by the time she's a tween. I promise.

Thank you B.! Yeah, I do love her tons, even if she is exasperating! I think you should have your mom guest blog with stories about you! Good luck to you, too this weekend! Hopefully no huge weekend events to pull you from the writing!

kimberlyloomis said...

What an absolutely wonderful post! I love hearing the stories of children and the jumps they make from the wee stages of toddlerdom to being teenagers. Your love of her, as well as your compassion and understanding, shine through and it's beautiful to behold. Thank you so uch for sharing.

Beth said...

I think this my favorite post you've written in the Challenge so far. Maybe it's that it was written with so much love for your child! No No is a beautiful woman/child and I hope she will continue to bring joy to your life as walks the bridge from childhood into adulthood!

Watery Tart said...

Kimberly and Beth-thank you so much to both of you! I try to limit the family stuff more for their privacy than mine, but when I get into it, it does flow pretty easily! My kids and my grandma are probably my favorite people I will ever know, so they are definitely great topics!

Marjorie said...

Ireally enjoyed your post about your daughter. "No No" sounds a lot like me when I was young. Except I did NOT have the athletic streak. And I will be continuing the practice of being open and honest with my daughters as my mom was with me. Totally agree with you there. I wish I had the self restraint not to yell though. I do that far more than I should. You're a great mom, and I know that your kids will turn out awesome.

Ellie said...

My daughter is fourteen; I enjoyed you sharing your daughter with us! I think you are a great mother, open and trying to be appreciative of
your children's special talents! There is no better way, then to be there, listen and be open to their expressive ways! (and help them when
things get out of control or out of their control)

Watery Tart said...

Marjorie-i yell now... it only lasted until she was a big sister... somehow when her beastie came out, so did mine! I think you're a great mom, too Marjorie. I don't know how you do the home schooling, especially when you have a couple more than I do!

Watery Tart said...

Ha! Ellie, you and I cross posted. Thank you! You still have the start of high school ahead, then? I have trouble when she's out of control, but I am very good at just listening when she needs to took. It is the sass that sassy me can't handle.

Caledonia Lass said...

Ahh... teenagers. Mine is 17, my son is 16. She's not quite a turbulent teen, I think she is finally just hitting that stage. Seems my kids didn't follow the norm. The usual age phases were sort of lost on them, then when realized they should have been acting a certain way, they started late. ;) Not with much gusto either. They're very good kids.
I love how your daughter said make-up was spicy and wouldn't let you sing til she was 5. :D Sounds like you have a great couple of kids there.

Kierah Jane Reilly said...

I *loved* this post! She's beautiful - good job mom!

Watery Tart said...

CL: It's nice to have late starters if you can get them! Unfortunately, between my husband and I, we had a fair amount of difficult child karma to pay back--hubby more than me, because though I did lots of stuff I shouldn't, I also did everything I should. Him, not so much.

Kierah-thank you!

Kassy with a K said...

These days I wish more and more that communication was more open with my mom.. there's things I want to tell her that I can't even imagine how she'll respond to. Half the time I think she'll be fine; then I think she'll explode. I'm actually making progress with my dad.. shockingly.

Anyway, this post made me smile... she's a lucky girl--hopefully she knows that. I loved all of the stories too.. very sweet. :]

Watery Tart said...

*hugs Kas* You and me both sister. I wish my mom was more open to communication too, but she is SO conflict averse that if anyone says ANYTHING the slightest big critical, she totally shuts down. I'm happy to field stuff you just need a more seasoned opinion on, but I know you need your family on a lot of it, too. Glad you're making progress with your dad!

Lisa said...

What a fun and interesting post, WT. I really enjoy your writing style and how descriptive you are. Loved "too spicy". :)

Watery Tart said...

Lisa, thank you! Ironic possibly that she has ended up a little too spicy herself!