I am a proud aunt to a precocious, brilliant 4-year old (you all met her when we dazzled audiences the world over in our matching dresses). Well, one of the best parts of my day is hands-down when my sister posts the things my niece Brynn says on FB (I’m trying to get her to start a Tumblr. It is hilarious). Bearing in mind that the kid is four, she comes out with some beauties. But there was always a part of me that wondered if she really said these things, or if my sister is just an amazing storyteller with a tendency for embellishment. When I was home back in June, I had the chance to babysit. Welcome to the most exhausting 3 hours of my life.
Within the span of 20 minutes, we played about 80 different games. We colored. We painted. We pretended to be puppies. We played the game where I’m the monster and I chase her. Then I tried to play the napping game (no dice. nice try auntie). Then, I was the monster again. I amused her for a good 15 minutes with a video of my cat knocking a pen on the floor, which she thought was hilarious. Then, after a swim in the pool (I swear I was only with her for 3 hours! She did about 12 days worth of stuff in that time), she decided she wanted to change her clothes. I obliged, cause I’m all for letting the outfit suit the occasion.
We go up to her room, and she informs me that her mom let’s her pick out her own outfits. I can feel some nepotistic manipulation going on here, but I let it pass. Then, she proceeds to take everything she owns out of every possible drawer – and I’m sure some secret ones. It was literally an explosion of clothes. Baby Gap had vomited and I was left holding the towel. After she donned her newest ensemble and started to go downstairs, I informed her she needed to clean up the mess she made before she did anything else. This did not go over well. Ever seen The Exorcist? The kid proceeded to throw a major, earth-shattering tantrum. My ears were hurting and I didn’t know a child’s head could spin around that way, much less while spewing bile. Ohhh the vitriol. Everything from “this is the way I LIKE it!!!!” to “this is the way MY MOM LET’S ME HAVE IT!!” (ha! not falling for that one).
The truth of it is: I don’t have a ton of kid experience, but I was pretty sure I could take her. She’s pretty clever, but I’d watched my sister and brother-in-law over the week I was there and had picked up a few tricks. She thinks she can outsmart me? I have a freakin’ PhD! So, with exaggerated calm, I told her she had a choice:
(1) Stay in her room and continue to throw a fit or
(2) Clean up and we could go downstairs and play.
I was a bit smug at this point, watching her consider her choices. And she really did think them through (which I respect). Meanwhile, I’m thinking that this isn’t so bad. I have calmed the possessed beast. A good five seconds passed in silent contemplation, and then with a fervor and determination I didn’t think a 4-year-old was capable of, she looked me dead in the eye and howled:
“I choose a FIT!!!!”
Sigh. I left her to it.
Brynn: 1. Auntie: 0
As I was getting dressed this morning, my arms finding their way into additional layers as the chill of the season starts to stake her claim, I found myself remembering that story and laughing. In mid-move, with clothing strewn around my own room like a tornado, I realize that acknowledging these kinds of choices are all the more important. Because I’ve got to be honest with you. Some days, I choose a fit too. Especially lately. More often than not, in all of our adulting, we’re taught to swallow it. To avoid the fit in favor of the status quo. But, I think it’s more and more appropriate given the current state of affairs, considering just how dangerous complacency can be. And here’s what allowing yourself the choice of a fit does: It validates your feelings. It gives you permission to be angry. It expels the rage and then compels you to organize and make a rational choice going forward. A fit is motivating. It means I’m not going to squelch my thoughts and rationalize them away. I’m not going to sit quietly. If I want to rage and howl, I shall, firmly accepting that it comes with consequences. And those consequences may be that the outcome is not what I had hoped my fit would allow, but at least I let my feelings be known.
It’s a rather poignant mission statement from a 4-year-old who is wise beyond her years, as it’s the next generation of people like Brynn that I need to throw a fit FOR. To show how important it is to make your voice heard when you feel something is unjust. To stand up and declare something unacceptable. To sign the petition. To make the calls. To take a stand.
Brynn and her arsenal of wisdom is actually arriving tonight in NC with my sister and her husband for a week of Thanksgiving fun. I’m squirming like an excited puppy waiting for them to get here, craving a bit of rejuvenation that only family can provide. Stay tuned, because I have a feeling there will be more gems coming out of this weekend than I know what to do with….
Dress: Greater Goods Vintage (similar modern and vintage here, here, & here)
Vintage Dirndl Jacket: Bettina Darling (similar here & here)
Necklace: Gift, One Happy Leaf
Belt: Anthropologie (similar)
Handbag: Bluebird Vintage (similar here & here)
Shoes: Anthropologie (similar here & here)
Lip Color: Short Circuit