Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bikini Beach

Nothing says summer like girls in bikinis on a beach, even though I had to get over my own thoughts to consent to buying this very special souvenir for them.  I wrote about it for my friend Christine's online mag, because writing helps me to organize my thoughts (as you know).  

Welcome to bikini beach, girlies.

The Summer of Marlowe

Raf and Marlowe haven’t always been the best of buddies.  She has the propensity to be stubborn and immovable, demanding and irrational.  Raf is easygoing and flexible, willing to listen and more rational than most people in the world.  Many times, their interactions have ended in raised voices and impasses.  More often than not, Raf (and the rest of our family) will leave the room saying, “Geez!  Marlowe!” while she simmers on the couch.

Before school let out, someone suggested to Raf that he try to spend more time with her, alone, and see what happens.  Almost as though she sensed this, Marlowe simultaneously began to beg for him to teach her to surf.  She started to spend more and more time in the water with him, in the pool and at the beach.  To watch the two of them wrestle and tumble in the water together, you’d never guess that the first half of her life was spent as my pet, my little partner in crime.  She is becoming a total daddy’s girl, like the other two, and I’m all for it.

In Maui, she was joined at her dad's hip in the water, leaping on his back in the pool and grabbing his hand to go snorkeling by the shore.  And he was extremely receptive to it, understanding that her passion for the water might be fueled by his passion for the water. 

“She’s such a natural,” he's said, referring to the way she grabs a wave when bodysurfing or boogie boarding.  “And she’s not even 7 yet.  Imagine when she’s older…” and then his eyes get glassy, imagining her as one of those awesome bikini-clad pro surfer girls who lives to surf and gets paid to do it.  A year ago, I don’t know if I would have seen the same thing, but a week in Maui has changed my mind and allowed me to set aside my dreams of having a famous chef in our family. 

More than anything, I like seeing them together, enjoying each other.  There’s a bond between a girl and her dad that is unlike anything else and now, finally, they both get it.  And I’m grateful to be on the sidelines of this one, to witness and document it, revel in its sweetness, reap the benefits of the big reward. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Renaissance Girl

Today is Serena’s 10th birthday.  In the womb, her name had been Roxy Magnolia, which is still a good name, but I woke up one night in a sweat and said, “We can’t name her that!  She’ll be destined to jump out of cakes!”  Her true name, Serena, came from a place we stayed in Palm Springs, La Sirena Villas, when I was pregnant and Emme was not yet walking, just toddling around the room carefully and making us laugh.

Serena sleeps with her hands balled into tiny fists, like me, like her Grandma Nancy, with whom she shares her birthday. Her glossy, spiraling brown hair and round face inspire references to the Renaissance masterpieces of Raphael and Botticelli and when I go to Florence, I see her image in every other painting or sculpture.  She is both prone to moments of fear about things that will likely not bring her harm, like elevators, and to giant leaps of courage, like when she auditioned for a district-wide arts program and got it.

Today, I’m taking her ziplining in Ka’anapali to celebrate a decade together.  She is no longer the Elvis lookalike baby with glossy black hair and big blue eyes, but she is something better, grander, more than I could ever have expected when she chose me to be her mama.  Happy Birthday, Neen!