Thursday, July 11, 2019

Zoe vs. General Observations Better Left Unsaid

You remember several months ago when I said it's getting harder to post about Zoe as she gets older? This is why the months since I've posted have been several.
As Zoe becomes more of a person I feel the need to respect her privacy in case she's ever embarrassed by something she's done. So far she's embarrassed over things she shouldn't be and not embarrassed over things she should be. This, I suspect, will change.
In the meantime, I'm the parent, so I'm supposed to have restraint; I'm supposed to care about whether or not she's embarrassed. I'll tell you something I've discovered about this caring: it's a one-way street. And I travel it alone.
As the child, Zoe has little regard for her mother's, or really, anyone else's, humiliation, or to say it another, more accurate, way, she's very comfortable exploring and discussing others' humiliations., behind their backs, in front of their faces, whatever, she's not discerning.
Charmingly, right now, she's going through a phase of excessive truthiness, truthiness of observable facts that will hurt people's feelings if said out loud but that she NEEDS to say out loud if only to have me confirm she's still a good person even though she has these thoughts.
Each day she informs us who she's seen that day who has a pimple, or smells funny, or is fat. And at first we responded by telling her it's okay to notice these things---often you can't help it---but that didn't mean she needed to say them out loud, and moreover, she shouldn't focus on appearance so much.
Then the eye of terrible judgment and truth turned on us, her loving parents.

It began with, Is it okay if she sometimes loves Daddy more than Mommy, and vice versa?
Naturally, whichever one of us she asked was the one who was enjoying Less Than Favored Status at that particular moment. So, of course, we'd reassure her our love (unlike hers!) was not conditional.
A sensitive child, at least in the sense that she was sensitive enough to realize she should appear to be sensitive, she'd sometimes clarify the REASONS WHY she loved one of us more than the other at that particular time, or even better (!), what qualities she was celebrating or denigrating, depending. And so I'd hear things like: I like to play with Daddy more than I like to play with you, and he'd hear things like: I want Mommy to put me to bed or come in to the bathroom with me or to help me do this, that, or the other, the clear implication being Mommy is the nurturer, sure, but also, super clearly, the workhorse, and Daddy is FUN!
Soon, as you probably were expecting, she began sharing, always with sad regret and a performance of guilt, observations she just had to get off her chest, usually about my graying hair, my expanding waistline, and whether or not she thought my outfit was flattering. 
I would reassure her that I forgave her for having these thoughts while emphasizing she didn't need to share them. And I'd say no matter what, I still loved her, albeit through increasingly gritted teeth. 
Taking a shower soon became a gamble, a fifty-fifty chance I'd step out of the tub to be greeted by a frank appraisal of my perimenopausal body. Did I know how pale I was? Did I know I had rolls of fat on my stomach, especially when I bent over to dry my feet? Did I know "insert another non-supermodel factoid" about my hips, thighs, or the shiny heels of my feet?
Indeed, my precious child, I did know.
Eventually I'd had enough. The Husband and I sat her skinny youthful eight-year-old ass down and reminded her of when she was smaller and we'd tell her to use her inside voice.
Did she remember that?
She nodded.
Well, Daddy and I want you to do that, just, now, more inside. Like way inside. Like in your head.
She nodded, slowly, turning that over in her mind.
Since then she's been trying. Sometimes. Though quite often still, when she's chatting away, and suddenly stops midsentence, her distracted gaze lingering on my midsection or the roots of my hair, I can almost hear what she's thinking, so really she doesn't need to say it.
But, god bless her, she says it anyway.

Zoe: 194; Universe: 0

If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy Zoe's and my previous entanglements with truthiness in the aptly named Zoe vs. The Truth.

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

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