Most times, when I look at her I see myself. I see me in her sparkling blue eyes, in the set of her mouth, and always in the attitude as our strong wills battle one another. I see my persistence in her determination to get what she wants, and how there's very little flex room between the picture she has in her mind and what she actually expects to receive. Those things I understand, as I empathize with the disappointment that inevitably comes.
The mode of her obsessions, though, deviate wildly from my own, and often have me wondering just where this little creature came from. From infancy, she's had strong preferences and the voice (or noise) to express them. As a toddler, she loved shoes, particularly a sparkly red set of Mary Janes that she wanted to wear everywhere, no matter that were stiff and uncomfortable. Unlike her brother (and me), she abhorred books, and if you attempted to read to her, she would slam the book shut, shouting, "The end! Then end!"
While fortunately her love of books and reading has developed (and I often find her in the morning sleeping on top of several books), her love of fashion and shoes in particular has not waned.
I am one who walks into the house, removes my shoes, and slips into pajamas. She is the one who insists on picking out her own clothes and accessories for the next day and argues wildly when she doesn't get her way, a meltdown that often continues into the next morning. Going shopping for her induces panic within me as her standards are high and much different from my own. Taking her with me and risking public meltdowns is usually more than I can bear.
So, I reacted with dread when she asked me yesterday what shoes she should wear to her school's water day today, and I realized she had nothing suitable. Off to the store I went, with kids in tow. Easy-go-lucky Brady was entranced with the first pair he saw, which they had in his size. Done. Maryn also fell in love with a purple pair of flip flops with a purple flower bow and sparkly "jewel". Of course they did not have them in her size, and inevitably there were tears as she collapsed on the floor and insisted that she wanted the too-small pair anyway. In surrender, or to teach a lesson, I bought those ridiculous shoes, and she cried again as she stuffed her feet in them in the car. I gave her one last chance to return them and pick another pair, but she said she didn't care if they hurt, they were pretty. When I told her they would tear up her feet, she replied, "They will heal. I'd rather have pretty shoes than ugly ones that fit." Oh my.
Sensing my frustration, she turned to me with her bright smile and said "Thank you for the shoes. I love you." And once again I could see myself in the way she picks up so easily on the feelings of others and cares for those who are upset. One of her first sentences when she was little was, "You happy, mama?" and now her refrain when we battle is, "You must be tired, mommy," followed by a loving touch or an "I love you." Through all the ups and downs, I'm glad that I don't have a total mini me or a mirror image, but have the joy of watching this uniquely beautiful creation grow and develop.