The Girl I Wished I’d Been

When I was thirteen, I wanted to be just like the girls in the popular group. At seventeen, I aspired, with absolutely no justification at all, to be a Broadway star. At thirty, I harbored envy for two sisters who had written a best-selling book on how to keep your house clean. I had a very messy house, and wanted to be more organized, but these two had the system figured out and became rich in the process.

By fifty, I began looking back, thinking, “If I’d only taken drama in high school and college, I could have triedacting. Given Streep a run for her money. At the community theatre level, but still. At sixty, I realized I should have listened to my early intuitive leanings for real estate, something that continues to intrigue me. If I had,  I might have been able to produce a pretty good income, certainly more impressive than my two chosen careers. Now, at seventy-one, I just wish I’d started out like Ro. If I had, I could have done all of the above, and more.

Ro is my youngest grandchild. The other three are all remarkable and adorable in their own right, but Ro has forged a path so strong and undeniable, I have, since her personality began to emerge around the age of one, wished that I’d been gifted with her brilliance, confidence and sense of self.

This child, for whatever reason, came into the world as what my mother used to call a “caution”. Her older brother is a sweet, caring and fairly quiet boy with appropriate interests and talents, much like his father, my son, was as a child. But Ro declared early on, by action and whatever vocal abilities she had in the moment, that she would do as she wished, in her own inimitable style, and no one, NO ONE, should dare question her.

She’s a force. There doesn’t appear to be a second when she questions her right to rule. It’s like she’s the reincarnation of some powerful queen from centuries past who decided it was time to return and claim her territory (the world) again.

Ro’s presence and behavior are so distinctive, it’s actually intimidating, and she’s eighteen months old. Both my and the father of my children’s families were law abiding, thoughtful people who would never have stood out in a crowd, or even a room, in terms of presence. But Ro commands attention. I’m pretty sure that comes from her mother’s side of the family, maybe a strain not immediately recognizable. Or perhaps Ro is a new form of alien that seems cute but whose powers are strangely conspicuous.

I wish I’d been born with Ro’s gifts and confidence. I can’t wait to see what she’ll do with it all, and how she’ll continue to develop. When I told my daughter I envied her niece, she said, “Maybe you were born that way, but it was all squelched.” An interesting theory, but not viable. As we all know from parenting, and now grandparenting, most babies seem to reveal their personalities early on. Yes, behavior can be molded and, sadly, frequently squelched, but I believe whatever spirit we come into the world with is the one that will steer our trajectory.

Meanwhile, I try to bring a little bit of Ro into my daily practices. Question myself less. Judge myself much less. Celebrate my goofiness and in-the-moment decisions a little bit more.

It’s a pretty grand gift from a grandchild; empowerment. I just hope that whatever qualities I have worth mentioning will, in the future, be passed on to Ro in return. She won’t need them, but I’d like to hope for a small measure of reciprocity, of contribution to generations to come.

Though, it’s likely queens don’t require such offerings. . .

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