Fridays are a good day to talk about Penelope, right? I don’t know, maybe she’ll do fun stuff during the rest of the week, but I feel like we’re past the age of daily check ins for her. There’s less “oh god oh god oh god am I doing this right?” from minute to minute and more of the unchanging every day slog of trying not to fuck it up. Not that I’m calling parenting a slog or indicating at all in any way whatsoever that I do not cherish every single moment because of course I do. Just look at me. I am filled with cherish.
Also, just look at Penelope.
Just look right at her. Do I expect you to believe that’s really Garlic Bread? Am I pulling some kind of elaborate hoax where I’ve replaced my tiny baby with a full grown adult? No, and I’ll tell you how you can tell. One, that’s a four year old right there, not an adult. And two, it’s been just a bit over four years since she was born. If you remind yourselves of these things, you’ll see that it is indeed the same loaf.
On a not related note, that picture is by Brittany of Wibbly Wobbly Photography and I’m going to have it put on a canvas to hang in my kitchen because how could I not.
I told these two stories on Twitter yesterday, about this thing Penny has been doing.
Story one: I was getting Penelope ready for bed the other night. We were in the bathroom together, doing teeth and face washing, etc. We’d just gotten started when Phil called up asking if I’d taken his phone. Why would I take his dumb iPhone? I wouldn’t.
“Why would I take your dumb iPhone?,” I yelled down the stairs.
I didn’t hear his response, but I assume it was acknowledgement of my fine point. I kept getting Penny ready for bed, doing final potty and getting her changed. Phil yelled up the stairs again to ask if Penny had taken his phone upstairs.
“Why would she take your phone? It’s not up here.”
We yelled back and forth a few more times and I suggested he look in the couch again, because our couch just swallows things, and also, I’d seen it in his hand just a little bit earlier.
I kept getting Penny ready for bed, and I assume he kept looking. Then after a couple of moments of silence, Penny suddenly says to me, “I slid his phone weally far under the couch.”
I just looked at her for a minute, then walked out of the bathroom to the top of the stairs to yell down to Phil. “PENNY SAYS SHE SLID YOUR PHONE REALLY FAR UNDER THE COUCH.” Then I went back to getting her in bed. Later, I asked Phil if he’d found it. He had. It was really far under the couch.
Then yesterday morning, I was trying to do Penny’s hair for daycare/school (whole other thing, solved the driving problem but introduced an entirely new self-questioning crisis, standard stuff). I was trying to get it done quickly because I didn’t have to be up for another two hours and I need the full 11 hours of sleep I allot myself (another whole other thing, I still sleep a lot. A lot.). She asked for pigtails – wait, did I tell you Penny CUT HER HAIR? Not like kids cut their hair, I mean at a salon. I don’t know if you say it that way for a 4 year old. She got her hair cut. That’s what I should have said. Anyway, it’s short, her request, and it’s adorable. Here she is making a real angry face, but she was pissed at me, not her hair.
I was looking for the one where she was angry at me, and I also found this one exhibiting how hard she has to concentrate to do a thumbs up. Oh, also one of her smiling. Anyway, that’s the hair. She’d been talking about how she wanted it short, and I have to say, I was really against it. I spent a long time waffling between “BUT WHAT IF IT’S TERRIBLE? I WON’T ALLOW IT” and not, you know, crushing her spirit and her individuality and her right to do what she wants with her own appearance. Eventually, as you can see, I did give in and she really likes it, though we found out after the fact that the haircut she actually had in mind was a buzz cut. Which, no. Send your kids over if their spirits need a little squashing because I am totally ready to do that.
Right, anyway, I was putting pigtails in her hair, and there was this black… stuff all over her scalp. Like black grit all over. The more I looked through her hair, the more alarmed I was because there was a ton, right up against her scalp. No idea what it was. I was thinking all kinds of stuff like, I don’t know, lice poop or something. She just started going to full time care. That kind of stuff can happen, right? I called Phil in to look at it. I asked him what he thought it could be. I asked how her head could possibly be so dirty between washings. I mean, we wash Penelope, but her hair is fussy and we don’t wash that as often, so I guess I could see something happening, but this was extreme.
I eventually decided I had to get out of bed and wash her hair before we could send her to school. I mean, she’s gone to school dirty before, but not visibly dirty. I do draw a line somewhere. And apparently that line is visible head dirt. So I got up and I got in the shower WITH her and used real adult shampoo on her head, TWICE, all the while wondering what the hell was going on. Flesh-eating brain chiggers? I was rinsing it out the second time, and she says to me, “I put wood chips in my hair.” Totally casual. Just letting me know.
I just. PENELOPE.
So normally I’d have some shame about telling the same story twice in 24 hours, but after I’d told it on Twitter and been away from the computer for a bit, I came back to find Maureen’s interesting question – what exactly is going through her mind during the time she’s watching us try to figure out what the hell is going on? And these are just two examples of what’s been happening frequently.
I should note that she doesn’t really do this with things that would actually get her in trouble or that she at least thinks will get her in trouble. Those things, she can’t stop herself from fessing up immediately. (“If I tell the truth about something, will you not be mad?”) This smaller stuff, though, she seems to be able to hold in her secret for just long enough to see her parents completely baffled, then it pops right out. I need to know what’s going on in that lag time.
I don’t actually have an answer. I’ve been thinking about that all day. It’s alternately cracking me the hell up and making me question the vastness of the preschooler brain and just what all kinds of calculating is going on in there.