I adore all my children but I will confess there is a very special bond between me and my daughters that is a lot than mere shared gender. They were with me, there in the crucible, and we three strode through it together in ways their brother could not share — and frankly, I would not have wanted them to. That my daughters were forced to share it was bad enough.
To say I love my girls would be a sad understatement but there isn’t a word in the language that would describe it accurately. And in the meantime, much as I love them, I still occasionally get to make fun of them.
“Mama,” says Ricky, appearing suddenly beside my desk. “Where’s Timber?”
In case you’re curious, “Timber” is my younger daughter Kimmie. Or, at least, that is her name in Ricky-ese.
“She’s upstairs with Gina,” I tell him. “They’re doing girl stuff.”
This is a universal reaction among the guys in the house, I’ve noticed. I, of course, am perfectly content and even happy about the fact that my girls go off together and do girl stuff. The men-folk, however, seem vaguely disturbed by it.
“Where’s Gina?” asks my husband, emerging briefly from his office. “She has dishes to do.”
“She’s upstairs with Kimmie, doing girl stuff,” I tell him.
I’ve noticed that none of them ever asks me what I mean when I tell them that the girls are upstairs doing girl stuff. That is probably just as well, since I wouldn’t be able to tell them. Not that I don’t know what girl stuff is. It’s just that I never know which subset of girl stuff they are up to at any given point in time.
Sometimes, they run upstairs together and come down with colored chalk all over their faces. They tell me they’ve been playing make-up. They both look like Ronald McDonald’s cousins or maybe that creepy clown monster from Steven King’s It, but I am kind enough not to tell them so.
Sometimes, they combine make-up with dress-up. They come downstairs wearing indescribably improbable outfits, taking fashion statements to hitherto unheard-of realms. I don’t say anything about that either, except to remind them to put the clothes away when they’re done.
For the record, they never do but I remind them anyway.
I’ll confess that I’m tickled pink about my girls’ propensity to run off and do girl stuff together. I consider it to be a good sign. There are five years between them; Gina is twelve and Kimmie is only seven. They spend a lot of their time squabbling, mostly because Gina thinks Kimmie is a pain and Kimmie thinks life is unfair because I can’t wave a magic wand and make her the same age as Gina.
Squabbling is probably the wrong word, but I don’t quite know what else to call it. Gina screams and Kimmie screams back. Gina is much better at screaming than Kimmie is, probably because she is older and has been doing it longer. Kimmie, however, is learning fast. They shriek back and forth at each other for a little while and then it gets very quiet upstairs.
If I go up to investigate (maybe one of them has murdered the other?), I’ll usually find that they have completely forgotten what they were arguing about and are engaged in giggling over pictures of Aaron Carter and the Backstreet Boys. At that point, I quietly leave. I know when I’m not needed.
“Where’s Gina and Kimmie?” asks David. “I want somebody to play with me.”
“They’re upstairs doing girl stuff,” I tell him as I reach the bottom of the stairs.
“Girl stuff!” says David, in a tone that conveys his poor opinion of girl stuff. And he runs upstairs to give them something else to do.
David is the only one of my menfolk who seems willing to disturb the girls when they are doing girl stuff. He is a brave lad. Moments later, the screaming erupts again with both of the ladies in full-throated abuse of the interloper.
I just smile and return to my desk. I’m not needed for this either.