Sunday, October 2, 2011

How Olivia sees me

I have been cooking up this post for a long time. Almost a year, to be exact. Hopefully you'll think it's worth it.

Last year, when I started working at Episcopal, things were a bit hectic. Not for me at my job, mind you--though that did sometimes happen--but for us as a family. I would get home very tired, especially at the beginning of the school year, when I was newly pregnant. This is how Olivia would encounter me most days: at the end of her day, when she was tired herself. Let's just say that hectic day + tired pregnant mom + tired whining child = a volatile combination. Much yelling resulted.

Which is why when I saw this picture of our family, I could only assume one thing:

Given the smiley-faced joy of Dada, and the dynamic, top position of Bella, I had to assume that the picture of me, with the "scribblescrabbles" obscuring my face in a grand gesture of craziness, was Olivia's honest reflection of her screaming, overwrought Mama.

Months later I asked her about the picture, and she explained it. In fact the crazy nest of crazy on my face was not me screaming, but rather, my hair. Boy, was I relieved.

So when picture #2 came along, I had a context for Olivia choosing a representative body feature to represent me. I'm not sure whether I am encouraged or dismayed by the fact that Daddy is essentially the embodiment of the smiley face, while I tend to be isolated parts. To wit:

Now don't be fooled by the little blue figure at the bottom right. That's Shepard. He seems to be the only person in our family that Olivia represents as a full person. But here's the kicker: what is that thing floating, multicolored and ominous, in the center of this drawing? I'll add that Olivia worked on this piece for *several days," cutting and pasting elements in addition to tricking out the floating central shape.

Answer: it's a breast.

"That's your nipple," she offered, pointing at the purple outcropping.

Given our summer, and how patiently she waited daily for our departure for the pool, for her play date, for the walk up the hill . . . I am not the least bit surprised.