I’ve started putting notes in my daughter’s lunch once in a while. I don’t really have time, and I only started doing it because Anna’s friend Emma gets notes in her lunch. But I’m doing it. I imagine that in no time she’ll ask me to stop because it’s embarrassing, and then I’ll be nostalgic for this time.
At five years old, Anna doesn’t seem to understand the concept of being embarrassed by your parents. There’s an episode of Arthur where Binky gets “caught” holding his mother’s hand, which is perceived as being too “babyish” an act for his age. A picture book we occasionally read shows a kid embarrassed by her father’s behaviour during a visit to her school.
Both situations go over Anna’s head; if she understands, she doesn’t identify with them. But she probably will soon. So, on top of leaving lunchbox notes, I’ve been thinking about the other things I should try to do for her or with her before we reach that point. Here's my list:
1. Wear matching outfits Once in a while, I pick Anna up from school only to realize we’re unintentionally wearing almost the same thing (leopard-print shirts and skinny jeans often being the culprits). We also own the exact same hoodie. What can I say? The sweatshirts were on super sale in the boys’ section of a big chain store; the extra-small size fit her and the extra-large fit me. Every time she wears hers, she asks if I’m going to wear mine. I always find an excuse not to, because I’m not really a matching outfits kind of mom. But I guess I should embrace it if she wants to do it, because it’s now or never.
2. Take photos together I take a lot of pictures of Anna and I spend a lot of time with her, but there are few photos of the two of us together. I expect that as she gets older Anna will be less inclined to pose for photos with me, but, as we spend less time together, I’ll want that documentation even more.
3. Go to a concert together I know a teenaged daughter probably won’t want to go to concerts with me, so I should take advantage now. We go to movies and live theatre, but concerts haven’t been a part of her life thus far. For one thing, she’s sensitive to loud noise (unless we’re at an amusement park, in which case she’s mysteriously immune). But she likes music and spectacle, and can sit still for long stretches. She’s only five, so I have time for this one still, but I really want to make sure it happens.
4. Get a manicure together I have mixed feelings about little kids getting manicures. It makes me uncomfortable, but I also see the results on friends’ kids and think it’s cute. We have nail dates at home and go all out with glitter and nail art, but there’s something appealing about getting pampered at a nail place that I think I’ll indulge in sooner or later (likely later). I doubt we'll ever do anything more spa-like, and I’m OK with that. But I think a tiny nod toward luxury, as a one-off, is safe and could be fun.
5. Pick her clothes If Anna were to choose her own clothes she would look like a flower girl at all times. Actually, I think if I allowed her to her dress like a bride every day, she’d go for it. So I pick the clothes I buy for her, and let her make her own outfits out of them. I know that picking her clothes is time-limited. I figure eventually she won’t want my suggestions on what to wear.
6. Introduce her to Rainbow Brite Anna and I watched Jem the other day and she loved it. I’ve also introduced her to Strawberry Shortcake. I’m now on a mission to find Rainbow Brite episodes. I guess there’s a fine line between pushing my childhood favourites on her and exposing her to options; it’s also something I imagine won’t carry over into her later years. So don’t mind me if I put on Today’s Special when she’d otherwise be watching Paw Patrol.
7. Act like a kid One of the most fun parts of being a parent is being exposed to all kinds of kid things you don’t get much access to as a childless adult, like arcades, kids’ movies and games. If I want to get my face painted, go to a water park or wear something particularly cutesy, now is my time.