I’ve been hanging with Holly this week.
Her dad and brother headed in different directions on their own adventures, so we girls held down the fort and enjoyed our very own “staycation” until they returned.
We had slumber parties every night with our big red dog and intrepid cat, watched movies (“Little Women” is next!), slept in, played cards, fooled around on the piano, went to my yoga class, enjoyed lunch at “our” table in the window at the Thai Village restaurant in Batavia and read. A lot. It’s been lovely.
Lovely, too, is that fact that “the house stays cleaner when the boys aren’t around,” Holly noted. Perhaps, but I think she generously overlooked the mess in my bedroom when she made that comment.
With her at the helm, though, we made quick work of the clean laundry strewn about my room and enjoyed a mini-fashion show, during which we both tried on – and she inherited – a couple of T’s and a sundress of mine that somehow look fabulous on her 12-year-old frame.
When did she grow so tall? After that my room was ship-shape, but she needed new flip-flops – and I needed a new sundress – so off we went on a bargain hunt. Mission accomplished, thanks to my stylist.
“Girl, the reason it doesn’t fit is you put it on backwards,” Holly quipped, after I tried the third one on. Nice. Is it any wonder I’ve never been arrested for disorderly dressing? And to think I’ve managed all by myself, all of these years – and even dressed her.
We also scored a couple of coupon codes for free Redbox flicks, which we cashed in at the Batavia Jewel, but not quickly enough, apparently.
A queue formed behind us as I pondered the choices on the 29 pages of movies listed on the Redbox screen.
“Do you want that one?” Holly asked, as I considered a Woody Allen film.
“Hmm, maybe,” I replied as I puzzled over the fine print in the description. So maybe it wasn’t fine print. Whatever. I never have my readers with me when I need them.
“Maybe isn’t one of the options, Mom,” Holly said, as she noted the ever-lengthening line, so I caved and got it. (I don’t even like Woody Allen films. So why do I keep watching them?)
This week we also scored a bargain on a barely-used pet stroller, when we pitched in at the Naperville Area Human Society.
It’s been a long time since I had a stroller in my life, but it’s perfect for Posey, our nearly 9-year-old Maine-Coon cat, a feline quite frustrated with life indoors.
As soon as we arrived home we took Jake and Posey for a walk, with Holly at the helm of Posey’s new “wheels.” My daughter is getting quite good at being at the helm.
“They’re gonna think there’s a baby in here,” Holly quipped, as she pushed the stroller down the sidewalk Tuesday afternoon.
“Yeah, if anyone we know sees us they’ll think either you had one, or I did,” I said, laughing nervously at the notion, unsure which scenario unnerved me more.
Here’s hoping it’s a very long time before my baby pushes a real stroller, becomes a caretaker in her own right.
In some ways, she already has.
It’s funny how roles reverse as we all grow up. And how, in the process, we sometimes catch glimpses of each other’s vulnerabilities, vulnerabilities which seem, interestingly, to inspire our own growth.
Some moments are amusing, for example, this making fun in a department store dressing room of my disturbing lack of vanity, so apparent and yet so relevant to a young girl just becoming aware of her own. We got another taste, too, this week, of a different kind of absentmindedness, when we spent time with my friend’s aging mom.
We brought her with us to the quarry, after which we briefly returned to our house to let out the big red dog.
But then the sky opened up and Mother Nature took an invigorating shower.
So instead of immediately returning our new friend to her daughter’s home at the appointed time, we put on the kettle, pulled out the chocolate chip cookies, and settled in for a game of Uno.
The game lasted longer than the storm, but it was long enough for Holly and her buddy, Rachel, also along for the afternoon, to learn how to “play along” when the rules of the game – and of life – shift without warning.
We enjoyed our day with our new friend, perhaps an unwitting teacher of this lesson, more than we’d anticipated we would.
I observed as this dear woman compensated for what had become confusing, and watched as my young daughter made sense of it, too, and stepped up to help fill in new gaps.
It was just one Uno game, but really, it was so much more.
Sometimes growth really does happen in the blink of an eye.
• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her husband, Todd, and their two children, Noah and Holly. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.