Thursday, August 20, 2009

So you think You can dance

I think every family has a child that dances to the beat of her own drum. For ours that dancer is Haley, and I’m pretty sure she has her own band.

Haley is five years old, our second girl and the third of four children. She is by default our middle child, but she will not go unnoticed. She has built-in qualities that call attention to her individuality. In a house where every child is up by 7 a.m. Haley will not be moved before 9 a.m. Attempting to pry her from the cocoon she has created of her blanket promises a struggle and a long day. We have learned to let Haley sleep.

Of course these late mornings mean late nights where Haley has energy to spare at 10 o’clock in the evening. Finding no one awake enough to play with, she often searches me out and insists on quality Mother-Daughter time. This makes for many an interesting moonlit-chat.

This morning after emerging from her quilted shroud and picking through breakfast, Haley asked me to color with her. When I suggested we color a cute, little duck orange she piped brightly, “Let’s make it a colorful duck.” And so, that is what it became – a very, colorful duck and the perfect representation of Haley.

Color is important to Haley. At an early age we dubbed her our fashion Diva. Her fashion choices are surprising and complex – often choosing layers and mixing florals and plaids. Somehow she always manages to pull it off with a bright smile and a wild accessory – usually a hat. Hats are her favorite and mine.

As naturally unique as she is, she desperately wants to do whatever her older brother and sister are doing just in her own way. She and her older sister both love to cook, but Haley wants to create something original EVERY day. Experimentation is key in this process. For someone, like me, who doesn’t enjoy cooking all that much, she is hard to accommodate.

Today our exchange went something like this:

“Mommy can I cook something?!”

“Not right now Honey.”

“Ok, when you’re done writing...You know what I’m gonna make...a strawberry cake! I need frozen strawberries and some candy!”

“Honey, we don’t have any strawberries, and I really don’t want to make anything today.”

“Ok, I’ll make it by myself. It’ll be a surprise...I’ll make an ice cream cake or a candy mix cake but not an egg cake because nobody likes my egg cakes.”

She’s right. Her egg cakes consist of disproportionate amounts of eggs, oil, milk, herbs, sprinkles and a few other mystery ingredients. All this is mixed and then radiated in the microwave. Poor girl needs an easy bake oven!

Along with this stellar creative streak comes a powerful will, one that needs to be bridled without muzzling the wonderful spirit that defines her. It is a blessing and a challenge to be the mother given that privilege. I love being Haley’s mom. I love Haley.

Given all her eccentricity, I’m not sure if she’ll grow up to be a designer, a chef, or simply a really cool mom, but I am confident that whatever she does she’ll dance her way through with an attitude that won’t quit and a whole lot of passion. Sounds like a dance I’d like to learn.

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