Friday, June 09, 2006

Now We Are (Almost) Six

Sofie will be six in August, she is so trying hard and vigorously to be independent. She objects when I say things like "honey be careful with that". She looks at me in "that way" and says with emphasis "Mom, you always say that. I am careful". This can be about all sorts of things, such as assisting me with cooking (I don't want her to get burned) or using a glass drinking glass or her asking to drive the other day.

She is, according to her school teachers and the guidance person, quite popular with her afterschool set. She goes to public school, and her school is at least two thirds African American. Sofie's posse is mostly young black girls, and her language has begun to incorporate some slang terms, ones where I had no idea of their meaning! As in "oh, snap!". For more info on what this means, go to

She is slightly infuenced by her peers, they got her thinking and wearing dresses and skirts, but she still climbs and is an active sporty kid. Plays with girls and boys. Not girly, but is growing hair out and that involves all sorts of hair accessories, which go in every day and often are not there by pick up time. I have taken to buying new ones nearly every time I go grocery shopping, to keep us in hair clips. Not expensive one at a time, but they add up.

We are packing for California trip and she has all sorts of ideas about what toys to bring. She is still snake obsessed and wants to bring these four foot plush snakes in her carry on luggage. That will impress the airlines, I am sure. No dolls need apply. And of course, the portable DVD player is essential.

She asked today why we don't go to CA and get our old house back. I asked why and she said, "because it is bigger" (which technically is not true, both houses are about the same square footage, this one is just configured differently). I refrained from explaining how we were forever priced out of the market there! I told her our current house was plenty big, but she went into a long description of how she used to have her toy zoo in the space in the Oakland living room. Her recall from her toddler years is totally amazing. I could not believe how detailed she described the window seat area. And that toy was a 3rd birthday present , but she accurately remembers it. It "disappearedz" over a year ago. This is why is it tough to purge her toy collection, she has detailed recall and will ask for something I "removed" six months ago.

But I have to do those stealth purges, or the toys will take over her space completely.

Sofie thinks both Jamie and I are too bossy. She should talk! But she is also very sweet, very fun to watch grow up. She is affectionate and will come over in the middle of a meal or something, kiss me and say "I love you mom". She also has become quite affectionate and caring of Gracie, our cat. Her compassion gets me every time!

We are in the process of making the guest list for her birthday. One big difference in being almost six is that she has *very* clear opinions about the whole thing, not like last year, when I got to plan the party. From where to have it (Pump It Up, a place with huge bouncing structures for kids to run wild in) to the gift bag items (she totally rejected my idea of cute little stuffed Build A Bear miniatures) to the menu, she is all over that event. Hmmm, who does that sound like?

It is funny how kids who are not biologically related to you can pick up on your mannerisms, characteristics or whatever. They say kids are born with their basic temperments, which I find reassuring to know. But sometimes, I see myself in her and not always in a good way.

I love watching this process of her growing up.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

In which I ponder the use of anti-nausea drugs for Disneyworld

Last weekend, deferring ever so slightly my third chemo appointment, I took my nearly six year old daughter to Disneyworld. Yep, on Memorial Day weekend. But wait, before you shake your head in disbelief, know that the trip was planned ages ago, with friends Joanna and Naomi in Oakland. They were there for family function, and thought it would be fun to join them. It was. Hot (90 plus, oh yeah), and humid, check. But the girls seemed totally oblivious to heat and humidity. Only the two grown ups were constantly sweating and looking for air conditioned places!

The first day we went to Animal Kingdom, the one with the real animals, not the Disney faux ones. We took the Safari ride and saw the Lion King show. We walked all over the place (well, Joanna and I did, the girls rode in style in the double wide stroller).

But it was fun, of a sort. We ended the evening with a promise of playing in the pool at the motel at night, but alas, we were pre-empted by a storm. So the next day, we let them splash themselves into a happy oblivion and then headed out to Sea World. With promises of Shamu dancing in her head, Sofie was happy to go. Again, the logistics of the theme park experience took a sit down meeting and pencil and paper. “OK, so if you (Joanna) take them to the Dolphin show, I will head over to the Shamu stadium and wait in the line”. Sounded like a great plan. And it was, despite the huge torrential rainstorm on the way. It melted my Seaworld map, but I persevered. I got there, drenched literally to my underwear, and spent the next hour and fifteen minutes awaiting the perfect seats.

Out of the “soak zone” (Shamu packs a wallop with his/her tail). We had front row balcony seating, perfect. Then coordinates were called into Joanna’s cell phone. Section B, 3-5. I gave her the coordinates. Unfortunately, she entered the stadium on the wrong side, and called back. I stood up, clear on the opposite side and waved wildly, holding my cell phone. Finally, she waved back and soon the whole lot of them were seated and waiting for the show to begin. So, just exactly how did people function before cell phones, I wonder? Would we still be looking for each other in that vast man-made ocean?

The show was wonderful, the girls were exhausted. We circled by the food station and after the feeding was over, headed out.

Joanna and Naomi dropped us off to head back to her brother’s home in Orlando. We were on our own for the last day. Sofie and I headed out to Magic Kingdom on the free bus, knowing the return to the motel had only one option: 7 PM. Not a drop of flexibility there, no sireeee. Once there, we went straight to Tomorrowland, which I think is now more Buzz Lightyear and less Jetsons, and got a FastPass for the Buzz ride. She loved it and wanted to go again. Another FastPass, for about an hour later. We went (twice again) on another more lame ride around Tomorrowland and then back to Buzz. Then FastPass for Space Mountain. A brief break for a popsicle and away we went. I kept reassuring her that the ride would be fun. She was in the middle of a three person car with me right behind her, hands on her little shoulders for comfort. Then WHAM! that thing blasted away and hurtled us through the ride. I had forgotten the roller coaster part I guess, or something. She was squealing in delight, I was about to toss my cookies. I wondered if I should have taken one of my anti-nausea pills from Chemo. Too late. I barely made it off the ride, literally staggering in the heat and with my head spinning. “Let’s do it again, mom”. No way, we were only allowed to go once, it was a rule, I lied. I would never have made it.

We headed to the TeaCup ride, and I realized that there was no way I would be able to handle it. I recruited another parent from the line and she took Sofie with her two twin boys. Sofie was happy to go, she loves those “dizzy rides”. I was dizzy just watching!

But we survived Disneyworld, without sunburn, and got home to RDU in time to meet up with my friend Sue, in from LA to watch over me as I went into round three of the chemo the next day.

More about that, later.