Kiss and Tell
As a parent, I've developed a new natural instinct that makes me proud of the simplest moments with my daughter. I find myself clapping, cheering, and even wiping away a tear or two at her every move, her every action. I used to roll my eyes at those kinds of parents, even my own parents. Now I am one.
Last week, I was just about to pay at the grocery store when my 15 month old daughter turned to the cashier and blew her a kiss. Well, when I say "kiss," it was her version -- mouth wide open, tongue out (her own add-on), chubby little fingers spread wide, followed by a sudden jerk of her arm in the direction of her admirer. It may have been a bit aggressive and somewhat sloppy, but nonetheless, it was a kiss! And she certainly blew it. In that moment, my wallet dropped, blueberries scattered, and I began to clap, cheer, and jump up and down as if she had just won gold at the Olympics.
Not to compare, but to compare, all of the other kids her age have been blowing kisses for months and my daughter had been late to the game. I'm not the kind of mom to feel nervous about her reaching every milestone on time, but the fact of the matter is, kissing is age appropriate and she was way past due.
My husband was thrilled that his little girl was saving herself for someone special. He was relieved that she was a shy, modest little girl who was holding on to her innocence. Little did he know that she just gave it up to a woman with a black python tattoo wrapped around her neck. But to me, it didn't matter. Man or woman, snake tattoos or tongue piercings, my daughter just blew her very first kiss and I was beaming.
As I stood in my glory while other customers rolled their eyes, I couldn't help but think about my reaction. Am I jumpstarting her budding confidence or am I setting her up for disappointment? What will happen when she takes risks or tries something new and her biggest fan isn't there to cheer? Where's the "self pride" button on my toddler?
It's funny how we begin to understand our parents' motives once we become one. My father loves to tell this one story of my Little League softball days. Mind you, I never considered Little League to be anything other than cute boys watching us from the sidelines. He was the coach at the time and sent me out to play left field. Nine year old girls seldom hit the ball past the pitcher's mound, let alone left field. Perfect position for his little girl who refused to wear a baseball hat and preferred her long locks to hang loose and blow in the wind.
Just as I was getting a good look at our fans, a "heavy hitter" on the rival team hit a grounder that flew right past shortstop and in my direction. This was unheard of. I quickly looked for my glove that I had gently rested on the grass, bent down, and attempted to catch the ball. It flew right past me. At this point, the wind was blowing and my hair was covering my eyes and hovering over the grass making it impossible to see. I began to use my hands and pat the ground around me in hopes of detecting the ball. By this time, the hitter was making her way to home plate and my entire team's shoulders were slumped. In what felt like an eternity later, I found the ball, stood up, fixed my hair, and threw it as hard as I could to the pitcher.
And as the tears began to stream down my face and my throat tightened, I suddenly heard one fan screaming. Yes, just one. "WOOHOO SARA!!!" My father's arms were waving in the air and he was jumping up and down. He was beaming. And now, twenty years later, I understand why.
In the days to follow, my daughter has continued to blow kisses to everyone in sight and my husband continues to cringe. In the years to follow, I retired my glove, sat on the sidelines with the fans, and I continue to wear my hair down. My dad continues to cheer, I continue to beam, and the world continues to roll their eyes.