This here is Zoey's 12th birthday present:
Although with the hormones in the tomatoes these days perhaps I ought to give it to her for her 10th birthday. I mean, surely I have some time to think about this, but really, I just want her to know how very stupid it is to try to be like other people. Years ago I went to a psychic. Which is sort of the antithesis of what I'm trying to say here--not to follow the herd, to listen to yourself... But honestly this woman was eerie. She said that Bryan should watch his blood sugar (he's diabetic), that she sees him around boats and water (he surfs and sails religiously). Looking back she said an awful lot about Bryan and not so very much about me there with my cash in hand, but she did eventually say that we would have two children, the first a girl, an old soul. She said that adults would be drawn to her eyes. (She also said that my second child would be a boy with very feminine energy, so watch for my son to appear sometime in 2011? 2012? It's Gay Pride Month and I will be honored to join PFLAG should I be so lucky.) Anyhoo. I watch Zoey play sometimes, her head bent to look at something no one else can see. She talks to herself a lot, pretends; sometimes she looks in the mirror and makes funnyuglysillystupid faces. She does not care if her face is dirty, does not flinch when I catch her eating a booger, she is not embarrassed when she farts. In fact, she laughs. Do I hope my daughter grows up to be the strange kid who sits in the back of the class wiping boogers under her desk and cutting stinkies all day? Mmmm, not so much, but if that is who she truly is and she is happy, then yes. Sure. Senior year I want my daughter to be voted Most Likely to Pick a Winner. I was a stupid teenager. Is there any other kind? I was a cheerleader my freshman year of high school because I saw one too many John Hughes movies and thought that was what I was supposed to do. Bear in mind I am not naturally prone to cheer. I wanted to be popular. (God, the very word makes me cringe. Popular? Popular?? What a fucking joke. The only time that word should ever be used is in front of the word Mechanic, and even then it should not see the light of day outside of a tire superstore.) I drank when I was not thirsty, laughed when I did not get the joke, flirted when I didn't even know if I liked the boy, I just knew I liked hoping the boy would like me. I was weak. I wore too much makeup and swam in these ridiculous little circles breathing only when the others did, my face surely contorted and strained and pathetic. I tread water, my feet never once touching the bottom. How do I ensure Zoey stays there making funnyuglysillystupid faces in the mirror? That she does not one day look and see the eyes of other people staring back from the void of her own reflection? Is it inevitable, the synchonized swim, the furious way we all dog paddle to stay in rhythm, or is there something I can do to teach her how to cheat at Marco Polo, to yell out her own name in response to any question? This post started as me just laughing at that pic. But then it unraveled, as they so often do, and I want to know: What sort of stupid things did you do to fit in? Do you do now? And honestly, do you have any advice on how to raise a self-confident girl who knows who she is and never ever, not even once, drinks 6 peach flavored Bartles & Jaymes just because some boy keeps handing them to her???