Monday, December 10, 2007

soft gooey center

If you haven't spent extended periods of time with Kate, you might have only seen her hard candy shell. She's overly confident, stubborn, at times defiant, and absolutely fearless. She can give you the cold shoulder or the evil eye, and her favorite word is "no," which she doesn't yell out, but rather states in understated finality.

Me: Kate, can I have a kiss?
Kate (quietly, while staring off at something far more important): no.

Kate attends a Kids' Day Out program, where her teachers call her a "pistol" and try to keep her from doing crazy things like slide down the big slide face first or climb to the top of the bookshelf and use it as a balance beam. It's not uncommon for her to come home with bumps or scars from her own mishaps. The other day I drove through the Starbucks drive through, and when Kate heard the voice ask, "can I get you anything else?" she yelled out from the back seat, "Milk, please!" After I pulled up and was only given my coffee, she screamed at the worker, "MILK, PLEASE!"

Kate reminds me of Cheri Elliott, a childhood friend who never met a challenge or adventure she couldn't tackle head-on. Trust me when I say such a comparison is the highest compliment, though more than a little frightening as a father.

But every toddler superhero has her kryptonite. Take a soft, fuzzy object, like a stuffed animal, and place it against her cheek. Her eyes will close and her right thumb will slowly make its way into her mouth, seemingly against her will. Take the stuffed animal away and she'll run off and do something else, but return it to her cheek and she stops what she's doing to melt into the heavenly fuzziness. If Kate's not within sight and I can't hear her, she's either getting into something she's not supposed to or she's having a private moment with something fuzzy. She cuddles up to Megan's furry coat sleeve. She sucks her thumb while laying next to our dog Scout. She's even been found cuddling a dryer sheet.

She may act tough, but she can't hide the truth that her hard candy shell hides a soft gooey center.