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rose raven

October 18, 2011
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I’m home alone with Rose today, who spent yesterday puking in our cheese-making pot (and on the floor, the couch…). I’m trying to be a gracious mother, the kind who isn’t thinking about deadlines, but instead is preparing a Halloween craft on a table not buried in semi-ripe tomatoes and newspapers.

My poor sick baby bursts into the living room wearing tap shoes and a leotard, instructing me to turn on the radio. “Is my belly soooo precious?” She asks, her shiny shoes clapping the tile floor. “Is my belly your best friend?” Rose sticks her tummy out and leaps around the room. The radio plays Blondie’s Atomic and Rose twirls and says “I like the part where she says, your hair is beautiful toooonight,” mistaking sexual innuendo for some princess anthem.

I am watching her, this gorgeous 4-year old girl creature with long, summer-tanned legs and scabby knees, and thinking “Oh yeah. Rosie loves music, she loves dancing.” Sometimes I forget she’s not the toddler whose main interests are nursing, avocados and wearing my underwear on her head. And it’s partly that for years she’s been tagging along while Col patents himself as the first bike rider, the first reader of the family, the first to evolve beyond drawing scribbles, while Rose is still hunched over her paper, drawing, well, scribbles.

But lately, it’s like Rose is coming into focus; it’s like she’s erupting—geyser-like—out of the geological layer of our firstborn. And I feel sheepish writing this, because it shouldn’t be a surprise, but Rose is so capable. Last weekend at the hot springs (not those springs), while Dan, Col and I were lounging, hotly, on the steps, Rose flapped over to the limp pile of us and said casually, “I’m starting to swim and breathe and not touch the ground all at the same time.” And then she kicked away like a fish, having taught herself to swim while the rest of us were impersonating lobotomized lobsters.

And she does love music and dancing, even though Dan and I tend to be more focused on say, growing tomatoes and hunting elk. It might help to upgrade our music system from the boombox we inherited from my grandmother, the boombox that goes static if you stand too close to it.

Which is to say, Rose is different than the rest of us. I think even at 6, Col’s inclined towards growing tomatoes and hunting elk, whereas, Rose would be happy to spend the weekend browsing the pink plastic jewelry convention, or even at home sorting stickers and shiny beads. Rose recently explained that she doesn’t want to wear the brown hand-me-down sneakers, she wants “pretty shoes,” and you could almost hear the busy signal in my ears, because fashion occupies a dingy, shriveled space in my brain. Even my dad commented on how Rose spends a lot of time brushing her hair and changing her clothes, adding, “it’s funny…she doesn’t get that from you.”

~his and her desks~

I told Dan recently, after Rose trudged outside to do garden chores in knee-high rain boots and a stained prom dress, “I love how Rose fits into our family!”

“I know,” he agreed. She’s like a delicious side dish.”

Rose is tucking away the trundle bed I slept on last night in her room. She takes off the sheets and blankets and pillows and scoots them back to my room. “I’m better Mama, you can sleep in your own bed tonight.” And then she prances back to her room to change leotards, or sort fancy beads and stickers, to be her amazing, changeable, inspiring self.

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29 Comments leave one →
  1. October 20, 2011 1:27 pm

    This was beautiful Rachel :) Of my four each of them is so uniquely different that I sometimes wonder how they could all be ours…. each of them teaches os something amazing about ourselves in their own way…… delicious side dish indeed…

  2. Audrey permalink
    October 20, 2011 1:42 pm

    I’m looking forward to Rose spending a few days with us some summer when the kids are with their grandparents — we’ll girl it up!

  3. Sheryl permalink
    October 20, 2011 1:59 pm

    So sweet Rachel. I love Rosie- busting out in her own way. We, as parents, are blessed to watch them transform into themselves with a front row seat. Ella as you know has always been so girly, but earlier this week she announced that she wasn’t girly anymore. I thought- really? Then just this morning as she was putting on her tights for picture day said “I don’t think I’m going to wear tights so much anymore.” Ella- really? Who last winter couldn’t have enough pairs? So as you watch and enjoy, it could also be part of the steps she takes to figure it all out. …….not that I really believe Ella is done with being girly :) we’ll watch and see.

  4. Tammy permalink
    October 20, 2011 2:19 pm

    Love your Rose! What a beautiful blog…makes me miss my little girls, though they are definitely still fodder for blogs at 16 & 18 and their wonderful adding-to-the-world-ways. Enjoy! Sorry about the lost-night part, hopefully it doesn’t run through the house!

  5. October 20, 2011 2:30 pm

    love this. :)

  6. October 20, 2011 3:07 pm

    So gorgeous, Rachel, both about the indefatigable Rose, but also about nature vs. nurture in general.

  7. shaina permalink
    October 20, 2011 3:33 pm

    this was beautiful rose reminds me of me when i was younger the fancy dress wearing princess girl in a family of gardeners

  8. October 20, 2011 3:59 pm

    I laughed at your dad’s comment! This pretty much sums up my comments about her in my “Rachel” post;

    “And then there is Rose. She appears to bring the industrious household into balance with her simple girlishness, who supervises gardening in her nightgown, wears tutus while helping her mother in the kitchen, and layers on mismatching clothes with the flair that only a 4 year old can pull off.”

    I love the way Dan can put something into perfect perspective with so few words.

  9. October 20, 2011 4:33 pm

    Oh, love it. Rose is just priceless. The little princess girls… some just ARE.

    When my own daughter was 4, she to was all about pretty dresses, and pretty shoes… her hiking boots had to be pink and purple with butterflies. I am a sandals, t-shirt, whatever-is-comfortable girl myself, with no interest in make-up or hair care products. Not so Cassady. Shiny shoes, buckles, beads, glitter. She took a brief hiatus around 1st grade into jeans and t-shirts, but she is still the girl who loves her pretty shoes and all things sparkly, along with unicorns and Ponies, at the age of 21.

  10. Emily J. permalink
    October 20, 2011 8:45 pm

    Yes, YES, so true about those mysterious 4 year old children we call our daughters! Where in the world do they get the thirst and desire for all things pink and purple and princess? I am the type of parent that lets her son wear pink if he wants to and buys trucks for her girls. I am constantly baffled where they pick up the idea that pink is for girls and blue is for boys. My son freaked out the other day when I handed him a pink plastic spoon and he called it a “girl spoon!” My daughter says pink and purple are the only “pretty” colors. I just don’t get it. It’s like they’re born with cultural norms engrained in them already. Yikes! I must admit though that they are pretty darn cute dancing around in their purple foofy fairy princess tutu dresses :)

  11. October 20, 2011 9:37 pm

    I love this post, and I love you Rose!
    Yes, we would love your rocking chair!

  12. Emily P. permalink
    October 20, 2011 10:52 pm

    What a lovely post. I only wish you had written this when my now 8 year old self described “wild child” was sorting glittery stickers and pink plastic beads. It would have calmed the beating of my heart, when she said things like “I love how this silky fabric swirls around me”. I reminisce sometimes when she’s thirty feet up in a tree about the glittery stickers. I love that you see Rose for Rose (how could you miss it, right?), and your writing, as always, makes me happy.

    • Emily P. permalink
      October 20, 2011 10:55 pm

      oh, I forgot to say that I love the photo of you, Dan and Rose. :>)

  13. Christy permalink
    October 20, 2011 11:53 pm

    Love this. Every. Single. Word. Having been the little girl ( then the teenage girl) that loved all things pink and purple and sparkley, I know one day Rose will be so grateful that though you may not have related to her girlie ways, you loved her so much you let her be her. And smiled at her flair. Really awesome. And the pictures!

  14. October 21, 2011 9:00 am

    awwww, so sweet.

  15. Ellen permalink
    October 21, 2011 3:40 pm

    Beautiful post about a beautiful little girl.

  16. October 21, 2011 7:25 pm

    Your Children are wonderful little human beings…being groomed to be wonderful adults by their wonderful caring Parents.Rose favors you quite a bit and Col looks like Daddy :o) (to me).

  17. Caraway permalink
    October 21, 2011 9:46 pm

    I love this, Rachel! It’s a perfect antidote to my evening-down-the-drain because 2 year old Fiona won’t stop crying and wailing and shouting in her bed…no matter how many times I go back in there! (Maybe because I keep giving in and going back in there) :) I’m not quite feeling the awed appreciation for her right now that you are expressing for Rosie!

    I also love this post because it’s catching me up a little bit with you guys… such a happy family. I love the photos, too. Nice blogging, Mama! xo

  18. Lisa B permalink
    October 21, 2011 10:06 pm

    How wonderful! Makes me want to mail her all the pretty little things that quickly get tossed aside in favor of books about venomous reptiles over here…. :)

  19. Sabra permalink
    October 21, 2011 10:06 pm

    Brought tears to my eyes!

  20. Kristen permalink
    October 21, 2011 11:33 pm

    Rachel, having 3 boys, our household is not that pink but it is sparkling with their beautiful personalities. Each of my boys are so uniquely themselves, and I have been especially treasuring my little 4 yr old Miles lately. He, too, seems to be emerging from the shadows of his big brothers and proving to be a smart, kind, right on little dude. Arent they just the best gifts ever?? As always, thank you for your words. They always improve my day.

  21. October 22, 2011 10:14 am

    So let me know when the pink plastic jewelry convention is so my daughter can meet Rose there, okay? This is beautiful, Rachel.

  22. October 23, 2011 10:23 pm

    Love this post, Rachel. I bet Rose would love paper dolls. I was a lot like Rose when I was a little girl. As a grown up I’m certainly more earthy, but I still love me a good lip gloss and covet my clutch collection. {And if it matters or not, my mom was/is an insane gardener. I lived by her side my whole childhood while she tended to the plants. She didn’t give a lick about fashion or anything remotely girlie, but every now and then she’d surprise me with some kind of Hello Kitty awesomeness!}

    This post also made me stop and ponder Sully. More and more it seems we’re learning who he really is – not just following in Theo’s shadow. Love that!

  23. October 23, 2011 10:25 pm

    ps… I loved the hers/his desk! That’s what made me think of paper dolls!

  24. October 23, 2011 11:05 pm

    I love reading about Rose. Juniper is only two and already loves to try on clothes. (Where do they get this?) My mom always wanted a girlie girl for a daughter but by kindergarten I had asked her to stop making me dresses. If Juniper goes for the pink plastic jewelry collection, I’ll have to learn a few things myself. (I am writing this an hour after whacking Juniper’s hair down to an extremely short bob. It looks terrible, and I am having extreme feelings of guilt. I asked my husband not to dress her in anything too boyish for a while….)

  25. Melissa permalink
    October 24, 2011 12:37 pm

    love this post, love your girly girl, love the way you capture it all.

    leeor gets back late wednesday night and i just bought more snacks because we really needed reinforcements.

    i so completely relate to the younger sib emerging from under the older one’s shadow . . . lilit is still so little but also getting so big, so herself. she’s pushing a tractor on the floor right now and i’m glad avi is at school so she doesn’t have to be gracious (which she always is) about his instant need to play with it himself!

  26. October 24, 2011 3:59 pm

    so beautiful. and love the pictures. i just loaded a pair of pink and sequined, light up, twinkle toe sneakers into my car for miss rose. they will be big but she’ll hardly notice for the super high glam factor. they just need laces.

  27. Molly permalink
    October 25, 2011 3:23 pm

    My daughter has more dresses than I do, by a long shot, and has a pile of jeans that lie completely unused on shelf. She applies lip balm daily, waiting for Makeup Years to begin, and has recently taken to wearing camisoles under her shirts. For Halloween she wants to be a princess, and I’m too lazy and uncommitted a feminist to strongly encourage something else, like a person or animal which is powerful for reasons unrelated to heritable title and wealth. Her mama wears a disappointing assemblage of outfits which can be worn or carried on a bike, over a layer of sweat. But she tells me she really likes my earrings.

  28. November 3, 2011 10:11 pm

    did you aptly name her or what?

    you knew.

    we have hours of bead sorting happen over here with my girls. it’s such a funny thing they are drawn to do. but i personally get it. i can fabric sort hours away myself.

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