What will middle child bring back from cousin camp?
In the last few years very little has been written about my middle child, Emma. During the period of time between her second and fourth birthdays I slept with one eye open, with a fire extinguisher in my hand and a stiff drink in the other.
When Emma was 2-years-old she unzipped the cushion on an upholstered chair and in the length of time it took me to go to the bathroom, she emptied the overstuffed cushion around the room. My first thought when I walked back into the living room was, “Oh my God. What did the dog tear up?” Then I remembered we didn’t have a dog, just a mischievious toddler.
The same year, as I sat with a 2-year-old Emma and a 4-year-old Aubrey on the couch reading library books, I looked up to see black smoke billowing from the kitchen. I ran into the room to find a piece of charcoal in the toaster oven that used to be a piece of bread — the toaster oven was turned up to 500 degrees and Emma just shrugged when I asked her about it. “I was hongwy,” she replied.
When she was barely 5-years-old she took an iPhone to school in her backpack to play Angry Birds during recess because, “Duh. We were just standing awound doin nuffin.”
Sharpies became weapons of mass destruction as Emma used them to express herself on every surface of our house. She drew tattoos on her dolls and even a few creative clothing items on herself — ever seen a Sharpie bathing suit or a Sharpie belt? I have.
I haven’t written about Emma in the same manner in the last few years because as she has grown, she has begun to understand things like:
“If you want toast, just ask me. I’ll help you make it and we won’t burn down the house.”
“If you want to use a screwdriver on something, I’ll Give you something to take apart so that every chair in the house doesn’t collapse when someone sits on it.”
“Do not take a cell phone to school because it makes Mommy look like a loser.”
“If you want a two piece bathing suit I will gladly buy you one to prevent having to scrub your entire body with a Magic Eraser to remove all the ink.”
Her hijinks were never mean-spirited. When confronted with something she had broken or destroyed her eyes would fill with tears, “I’m sowwy Momma. I not know we don’t use Daddy’s scredwibers wike dat.” And never again would you have to worry about her dissembling a chair. But the birdhouse your husband spent all weekend building with the neighborhood kids? It was fair game.
As Emma has gotten older her curiosities have been (thankfully) satisified with extensive Q and A sessions, mostly with her daddy. He relishes her endless loop of, “But why?” In addition to her curiosity turning into a wonderful desire to learn, the child is as sweet as the day is long. I never have to ask her to do anything more than once and while I’m still arguing with her two sisters about why they have to do their chores, Emma has put up her laundry, picked up her bedroom, fed the dog and both cats and is asking me if she can help me cook dinner. Emma is tiny, her arms and legs are like pipe cleaners — I often joke that she’s like a Transformer because she can still fold up to the same size she was five years ago — but her heart is huge.
My writings about Emma these past three years have been mostly sweet, but all of that may change this week — Emma is spending the week with her two sisters and eight cousins at “Cousin Camp” on The Farm with my in-laws (The Farm People) where she’s going to be learning survival skills such as: four different ways to make fire, how to fish with nothing but a homemade cane pole, plowing a garden with mules, how to identify trees and did I mention - How to make fire?
God be with us.
Robin O’Bryant is an author, humorist and a speaker. Her latest book is “Ketchup is a Vegetable and Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves.” Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter and visit her blog at www.robinschicks.com.