Over the years I have made it pretty clear that my little Lucille is no push over. She’s a tiny, fierce package who comes out swinging, shouting and stomping. She responds to perceived injustice, like a toy snatched from her grips by her sister, with explosive indignation. Eliza will poke Lucille metaphorically knowing what will come next. A small knotted fist held high in the air and a chase. Eliza will run around the kitchen table, past the stairs barely missing the pellet stove with her sister fast on her heels. They are both usually laughing and Lucille is gaining ground.
My first reaction when someone asks about my younger daughter is that Lucille is “spirited,” she’s “something,” she’s “well…” and I’m a little lost for words to describe her. Sometimes these descriptions come off a little negative. Even worse, sometimes they feel a little negative and I don’t like feeling that way about my own kid. Like fear, she’ll sniff it out of me eventually and, if that happens, I don’t foresee the path before us to be a smooth one.
She is spirited. She is something and she is, well…rendering me speechless. There are so many positive reasons why. Lucille is the life of the party in our house. She’s the belle of the ball. She will break into dance at any moment with her index fingers pointed straight to the sky, her eyes closed while mouthing, “Yeah, baby!” She’s usually only wearing underwear when she does this because she is always only wearing underwear. Backwards. Don’t ask me why.
She loves to have her nails painted with polka dots so they look fancy, her word, and her art table constantly looks as though a tornado has just blown through because she cuts and glues and colors and staples and tapes all manner of media into animals, books, people and scenes she pulls from her imagination. She builds cities out of wooden blocks and asks them to balance on a stair step, a thin two-by-four piece of lumber. She’s happy sitting alone with a book or quietly with her notebook writing “secret notes” to her friend Cee Cee. They both have pre-K boyfriends and I’m pretty sure it’s true love.
But most days lately, she wants nothing more than to be with me. She wears my clothes and shoes around the house. She puts my for-curly-hair product into her not-so-wavy hair. She sneaks my lipstick when I’m not looking. And lately she has been asking me to carry her in our tattered Ergo carrier. She still fits, so I oblige. I like having her close to me while doing mundane tasks like vacuuming and when she curls into me at night I sometimes take her tiny hand, stretch it out and look at the polka dots on her fingernails.
I have to think that her four-almost-five clinginess mixed with defiance is a little like it was when she was 18 months old. She wants to be independent, stake her claim, define what little sister looks like in a family where big sister is a pretty tough act to follow. And sometimes the only way to do that is to be so completely different with her fist held high above head. So I’ve been holding her close, rewriting her story hoping that we both can see past the swings and stomps, hoping that the closer I pull her to me, the quicker indignant screams will go away completely.