My daughter was an uninvited guest at a gay wedding and I’m 100% okay with that.
Let me backtrack: The three of us traveled to Washington DC for Memorial Day Weekend. After spending Saturday walking all over the city (i.e., from Georgetown to Foggy Bottom to the White House to the Smithsonian Castle to the National Gallery to the Metro Station and then back to our hotel!), we needed to take a little rest before dinner. Isabelle didn’t want to nap (Shocker!) so we allowed her to play quietly while we laid down.
I heard beautiful string music coming from the courtyard outside our hotel room. I peered out the window and discovered a wedding procession. “Isabelle, come look! It’s a wedding!”
Isabelle scurried over to the window as the flower girls made their way down the aisle. Next came the ring bearers. “The bridge will be coming out next!” I squealed.
The music didn’t change as a young man walked down the aisle escorted by a slightly older woman. Where was the bride? Once the tuxedo-clad man and the woman who was escorting him down the aisle arrived in front of the minister, the music stopped and the minister had everyone sit down.
What’s happening? Why is everyone sitting? Is there going to be some kind of break before the bride walks down the aisle?
I looked at the minister to see what he was doing next and that’s when I realized there were two men — both in tuxedos — standing in front of him. A same-sex wedding. How would I back-track from the bride thing and clarify to Isabelle what was happening? And that’s when I made a connection to a book I’m thankful she picked up in my office and has had us read to her over 50 times.
“There’s not going to be a bride,” I started.
“No bride?” she asked.
“That’s right. Remember how Stella had two daddies in Stella Brings the Family?” I asked.
“Yes,” she replied.
“Well, this wedding is kind of like Stella’s family. Before Stella her daddies probably got married. This wedding has two grooms and no bride.”
“Okay,” she said.
Isabelle watched the wedding for a few minutes and then went over to the hotel room desk to color, peeking out the window every few minutes to spy on the wedding. She returned to the window for the recessional and then watched the new family’s photo session after the ceremony was over.
* * * * *
On the very day Ireland became the first country to legalize gay marriage, I assumed the wedding taking place in our hotel’s courtyard was between a man and a woman. It’s 2015 and I feel badly for that, but my assumption is probably because of the way I saw marriages growing up. I didn’t have to have a complex conversation with Isabelle about why there were two men at the altar, rather than a man and a woman, since she knows families look different from ours. We’ve had those conversations because we read Stella Brings the Family to Isabelle after she begged me to read it to her once I finished writing craft lessons for it for my forthcoming book. Initially, I thought the content would be too sophisticated for her, but reading the book led to important discussions. I realized reading Stella to her at age four was a good decision since it allowed her to learn about different family dynamics.She accepted the same-sex wedding. Unlike those who oppose gay marriage, she doesn’t think there’s anything weird or unholy about what the two men were doing in the courtyard of our hotel on Saturday afternoon. I’m sure she’ll have questions about gay marriage as she gets older, but for now, she accepts it. And I am thankful.
Isabelle accepted the same-sex wedding she witnessed. Unlike those who oppose gay marriage, she doesn’t think there’s anything weird or unholy about what the two men were doing in the courtyard of our hotel on Saturday afternoon. She saw two people pledge their love to each other as she watched from our room. While I’m sure she’ll have questions about gay marriage as she gets older, she accepts it now. And I am thankful.
My kid, on the other hand, is four going on 94! And I’m not sure I should brag about that. She’s the kind of kid people often refer to as “an old soul.” Case in point, this morning, after she guzzled her chocolate milk at breakfast time, she said, “I’m cold.” But it didn’t end there. A sweater was not within reach (She always requests a sweater if she’s cold!) so she snuggled into me until she warmed herself up.
- Isabelle and Molly walked into the park holding hands. Sarah and I pushed their strollers (which you HAVE to bring to Hersheypark since it’s hilly and kids get tired from all of the walking). We noticed them lagging behind. I turned around and noticed Isabelle and Molly chatting it up with a throng of people trudging along behind them. (How kind it was for no one to try to pass them!) There were about 20-30 people being held up by two four-year-olds who were just looking around, chatting, and enjoying the scenery. The girls didn’t have a care in the world about who they were holding up. And while I could say Molly was equally responsible for walking slowly, I know she was being a good friend and keeping up with Old Lady Isabelle who prefers a slower pace so she can take in the world.
- Isabelle and Molly, both four, insisted on holding hands most of the time they walked around the park this weekend. It’s a cute little girl thing to do. But it reminds me of my grandmother, who Isabelle is named after, since she always liked to hold my hand or my arm in her later years when we walked together.
- Isabelle doesn’t pay attention while she drives. I took her on the Classic Cars at Hersheypark and her eyes were everywhere except for on the road on which she was driving. Thankfully, there’s a track to keep drivers like her from going astray. Google “‘century village’ ‘pool’ ‘car'” and you’ll understand why this relates to older folks.
- Isabelle loves rides that spin around (not so old ladyish), but she detests roller coasters (because she’s an old soul).
Long, lingering hugs. Those are the kinds of hugs my daughter likes to give. It doesn’t matter if you’re a character at Herhseypark or a friend, Isabelle will give you lots of hugs — repeatedly. It’s hard for her to stop hugging, especially when it’s time to go. Kind of like the way my grandmother never wanted to let us go when it was time for us to depart after visiting her.
The brush of lips against my hand. That’s what woke me up this morning. As I came-to I realized I hadn’t moved since I fell asleep a little before 11. Still in my back. Pillows under my knees just as perfectly as they had been at night. I can go back to sleep.
I checked my bedside clock to see how much longer I could sleep. When I rolled onto my left side I saw more than red digits staring back at me. I saw the kisser too.
“Oh my G-d, Izzy!” I noticed the clock. “It’s not even 5 a.m.! You can’t keep waking us up this early.”
My husband, who I initially thought kissed my hand, rolled out of bed and escorted Isabelle back to her room so we could both sleep for a little bit longer.
———-Two hours later.———-
I’m wide-awake and Isabelle waltzes into our bedroom at her proper wake-up time.
Such a proud little reader. A proud little reader who will need a nap this afternoon.
I returned from a marvelous writing retreat at the Highlights Foundation last night to a sick child. As soon as I heard her wet cough and looked at her red-rimmed eyes, I knew I had to cancel the school visit I was planning for today. While I kept thinking that “reality bites,” my most important job is Mom. So here we are, at home, exhausted (because I slept with her since she was coughing a lot last night) at 10 a.m. on a Monday. We’re just biding our time awaiting her 3:30 p.m. doctor’s appointment so we can figure out what’s really wrong.
With nothing much on the docket for the day, I decided it was time to hang up some of Isabelle’s preschool artwork. Let me admit to something my mother thinks is quite terrible. I throw out a lot of Isabelle’s artwork. (There. I said it. In a public forum.) You know why? There’s SO much of it. I cannot save it all. There are a few pieces I save in a keepsake container in our basement, but the sheer volume of it is too much to physically store.
Just so you don’t think I’m a completely horrible person, know that I take photos of the things I toss and save it in an Evernote notebook. See:
This morning I decided it was time to STOP letting the artwork pile up. So I asked Isabelle, “Would you like to help me display your artwork in the garage?”
“In da gawaj?” she asked.
“Yes, on the walls of the garage. This way you can see your works of art every day when we come and go from the house.”
She considered it. “Okay! I’ll help you!”
“Put on some shoes,” I commanded.
“Can I weah silwuh shoes?” (Silver shoes are her part of the signature look she’s created for herself.)
“Sure, you can wear your silver shoes into the garage.”
And so she did.
We spent the next 20 minutes creating a gallery of her work. From the life-size Isabellsaurus she created with her teacher during their class’s dinosaur unit to the paintings she creates on the easel to a glittery skull she made at Halloween, it’s all up on our garage walls. She helped me hold the paper straight while I placed the tape loops behind the artwork. She helped me choose the places where each piece would hang on the wall. She brought some of her stuffed animals out to the garage so they could admire her work on the gallery.
When we were finished, I asked her what she thought.
“I love it!” she responded.
“Would you like to hang more of your artwork in this garage gallery as you bring it home from school?”
Her face lit up. “Yes!”
So apparently, the garage gallery will be a compromise, of sorts, for us going-forward. It’ll be a place for Isabelle to proudly display her preschool artwork. And it’ll be in a place I can both live with (i.e., not on the walls of our home) and not feel guilty about (i.e., by tossing). I think this garage gallery will be a win-win, don’t you?
I don’t like chalk (because it’s messy), but I adore Betsy Hubbard (because she’s artistic, brilliant, and caring) so I went outside to chalk with my daughter this afternoon. Unlike me, Isabelle likes to use chalk! See:
Now, on to my poetic masterpiece (or not) in honor of April’s Chalk-A-Bration.
I was one of those classroom teachers who infused poetry into my classroom all year long. I couldn’t imagine teaching without poetry all year long thanks to my first literacy coach, Pat Werner, who opened the door of poetry to me during my first year of teaching.
Tulips. They’re my favorite. The ones in stores don’t have a remarkable smell. They’re not fragrant like roses or lilies. But today, I smelled tulips that smelled divine. And while I can’t think of the perfect word to describe them, my daughter came up with a unique description.
Golden? Hmmm… Not exactly the word I would’ve chosen, but I suppose it works!
Our next year
in 12 short hours and
in 3 little words.
We have love
because we have each other.
We have faith
because we have a strong plan.
We have hope
because we have fought tough battles
and have won
Our next year
will be different
from the one we envisioned–
but we have
The only other thing we need
is some chocolate
to hide in the cabinets
to perk us up
on days when
love and faith and hope
don’t feel like enough.
I presented Isabelle with her playlist on my iPhone as she prepared to brush her teeth.
“Pick a song,” I said, as I do every morning.
Instead of scrolling up and down through the playlist with her finger in search of a picture she liked (which matches a song she wants to hear), she settled her finger towards the center of the screen.
“A…,” she began.
“A, what?” I asked.
“A.” She pointed towards the Jackson 5’s song. Then she continued. “A. B. C.” She looked up and smiled.
“ABC, what?” I asked. (I had a feeling about what she was doing, but I wanted to follow her lead.)
“ABC, da song! Dat’s ‘ABC’,” she said as she touched the screen with her index finger.
“Wow! You read that. Instead of looking at the picture, you read the letters a-b-c and picked the song. You should be so proud of yourself.”
I continued, “That’s reading, Isabelle. The letters mean something. This song is called “ABC” and you read the title of the song. You can learn how to read the titles of all of your songs.” But then I stopped. She’s only four. Why push? And besides, we had to brush those teeth!
A Few More Reasons to Write a Poem
Because a tiny bird nibbles seed from her hand-painted birdhouse
Because you delight in her questions
even the ones that start with “why”
Because you witness her pedaling her trike straight
Because she requests a ponytail instead of a side-bow
Because she wants “just one more hug”
at preschool drop-off
Because you see yourself in her
when she smiles
- I was expecting to see a sign denoting the actual machine where Knuffle Bunny was washed. But I didn’t.
- I was expecting to see the letter M on the actual machine pictured in Knuffle Bunny. But I didn’t.
- I was expecting to have a déjà-vu moment since I’ve read Knuffle Bunny so many times. But I didn’t.