Wednesday, May 23, 2007


She is intense, imaginative, a little wild, eager to please but never sure what the rules are, undisciplined, scattered, smart, perhaps too smart for her own good, everything's a game, language is a game, she wants to play, she wants to control the game, she wants to be controlled, she wants to lead, she wants to follow, she wants to hit, she wants to scream, she wants to laugh and laugh, she wants to keep laughing even though the jokes over, she wants to make other people laugh, she's a chameleon, sometimes I think she is a beauty and sometimes I think she is plain, she's fun, other kids love her intensely, other kids don't want her to play with them, she wants to please people, she's prickly, she wants affection, she pushes people away, she's ambiguous, ambivalent, she crowds, she wants space, she's not sure of herself, she loves herself, she doesn't want to dress up, she doesn't like dresses, she wants to be a princess, she doesn't want to carry anything, she wants a new bag, she wants to make, she doesn't like mess, she wants to be covered in mud, she wants to wash it off, she wants to fly, she wants to jump off high things, she's scared of spiders, the dark, the gap between the platform and the train, she wants to go out, she wants to stay home, she loves the museum, the huge spaces, the arrangement of things, she loves books, she loves maps, she loves beautiful things, she notices things other people don't see, she won't take no for an answer, if you tell her not to do something she does it anyway, she does it twice.

Who am I describing? Mother or daughter? Frederique is so like me, sometimes I feel like I am having to find a way to parent myself. The shifting space between us, it never occurred to me before I had her that I would find the boundary between us so vague, so indistinct, the beginnings of ourselves so blurred. I don't have this with it because she was second? Or is it because Frederique is so like me and I can see great joy for her but a difficult road all the same?


  1. Anonymous9:07 AM

    Maybe it is partly a first-born thing. I feel exactly the same with Alice -- even though increasingly I can see that we are not actually so alike -- the border between us is so porous, I identify with her so strongly, to the point where my exasperation with her flaws is just as intense as my adoration of her (maybe more so). I cut her less slack, I cut her the same slack as I cut myself, which is something I need to watch.

    Yet with Evie there is no confusion; she is, and has always been, a completely separate, distinct person. And so paradoxically I am more patient with her, because i feel I understand her less, I'm still working her out. Maybe I even respect her more than I do Alice, because Alice is still part of me.

    I wonder if it would have been different if I'd had a boy then a girl, if I would have identified more with the girl, even though she was the second? Or does it come down to their personalities?

  2. Beautiful...

    One more example of why you are a writer and I am a reader.

    Ms Soup

  3. I think if my mother were first-born like me, we'd identify with each other more. Instead, I'm incorrigible like my father (who is a first-born child). I like this blog entry. Thank you!

  4. Having only boys, I'm not sure if I'd feel closer to a girl. Was a little worried with last one "What if it's a girl. What do I do with it? OMG what if it's a girly girl and wants ruffles and stuff??!" ( I can't STAND pink!)

    I'm finding that Daylin is more like me, not just in looks (1st born is almost a carbon copy of Daddy!)but his pretty easy going and just kind of rolls with it (or is that a second born, no it can't cause I'm first born Hmm).

    First born is my Dad all over in personailty (considering they have little contact I'm going with genetics)which drives me to the brink somedays!Bright, questioning and the constant "Why?".
    I think tho Daylin will end up more like my brother, so laid back he'll be comatosed. But we love them all the same.

  5. Anonymous6:06 PM

    At tap dance on the weekend, willow was jostled out of chorus line by some girls, and got sad cause she didn't have friends.

    Poor G (who takes her) got a bit post traumatic about when he didn't have friends at school. so much so he then drove the car into a concrete siding.

    With my own mother, she seems to have this confusion that me=her, which in most instances is very far from the truth. (my MIL is convinced we are twins as well, which i suppose is true, if having female bits, living in a house and breathing air makes one a twin).

    I'm no sure to what extent willow and i are similar (although she recently announced she wants to be me when she grows up) but i am currently very aware of how my discourse with her will shape the way she has relationships.

    Given our current exasperating situation, we have both agreed that her watching lots of telly is far less nasty than me yelling abuse at her because i'm too large, pained and depressed to answer about why dead people go in the ground or in a fire and why they don't come back.

    Although that was easier than describing what power lines do.

  6. i feel ike this with primo a lot of the time - altho terzo is the child of my heart - and i find myself worrying more about him and hwo he will cope with life, than i do the other two. because i have been where he is, and know what it's like (and wish I could ive him zoloft NOW : )

  7. So interesting to hear other people's experiences with this. More please.

  8. If I have one, I want a girl. I don't mind a girly-girl who likes pink.

    Unfortunately, I'll have to find a man first... and since that won't happen (we're talking about probability here), I'll have to settle for girl cats.

    Cats are interesting because you're the pet and they're the owner - they own you. I guess I don't have a problem with that.

    My sister is a middle child. My mother, who is also a middle child, gets along with her more than she does with her other two children.

    I was trying to edit the comment above and ended up deleting it instead. Sorry.

  9. "Cats are interesting because you're the pet and they're the owner - they own you." Yep, just like kids.

    I'm a youngest (of two for my mum, four for my dad), so maybe when Una gets older I'll relate more to her. I think we'll probably have a less tempestuous relationship, but there's soemthing deeply satisfying about loving Fred, because she is so challenging in some ways.

  10. You know something Penni, my father and I are both the oldest kids in our families and we never liked each other much. One of the reasons is that my father is extremely critical of me - and this is a guy who won't be satisfied until he can buy his own private island (not likely). So I guess he's just critical of himself and projecting it onto me. He gets along with my brother OK. He understands the older-younger sibling dynamic because he grew up with that. But the older-older dynamic is more complicated and there's more competition - and it's like looking into a mirror of your younger self. When I was teaching high school and I got the middle grades, every time I had a quiet, nerdy kid in class I got a bit creeped-out because it was like teaching my younger self.