That Bee-girl of mine is going to kill me. Either she’s going to do me in as part of a large-scale plot to avenge her childhood illusions, or else dealing with her is just going to cause me to keel over in exhaustion. You know, one or the other.
This weekend, I took Gracie to the craft store to buy a rainbow loom and some loops. It was what she decided to buy with her winnings from the Superbowl pool. Bee – lonely, left-out Bee – did not win anything in the Superbowl pool, but because we are dealing with a lot of issues lately (chief among them: feeling like Gracie has a heap more advantages, and sometimes Bee is even right), I told Bee she could use a little of her own money to buy something. Since I never let the girls spend their birthday money, this was a Big Deal.
Off we went! Gracie picked up her loom and spent 203498503948 minutes selecting her three loops colors. Bee took at least twice as long deciding what she wanted to buy. First she picked up a make-your-own lip gloss. I wasn’t too thrilled with that choice because Santa brought the girls a mani-pedi set that included (unbeknownst to me) a make-your-own-glitter polish and WOW WAS THAT A MESS. I almost convinced Bee to get her American Girl doll a tutu dance costume, or a dining set, but then Bee saw it: A grown-your-own dinosaur kit like the ones she had before.
For those who don’t remember, we’ve hatched two dinosaurs here at Casa de Katie. The first, George, was actually sort of Gracie’s pet. We hatched him and then set him free, at which point, he sort of became Bee’s protective pet. She was scared-scared-scared of the dark, and so at night when she refused to stay in her bed, I reminded her that George lived in the woods and walked around our neighborhood at night, stomping on monsters and bad-guys and smooshing them dead. Brilliant, that was. Then George got a little brother, Steggy, and Bee hatched him, and eventually he, too, went to live in our woods.
All was well, but that was ages ago, and I really thought that at some point, Bee realized that those dinosaurs…they weren’t real. I mean, dinosaurs are extinct! And she’s a pretty bright kid. So when Bee decided that she was going to hatch another dinosaur, and then picked out a rather large bug cage for her dinosaur to live in so he couldn’t escape like the last two, I shot Gracie a look and kind of panicked.
Bee really thought they were real. Really, really real.
I had no idea what I was going to do. When the dino came out of the water, he’d be slimy. And if you recall the George Experiment, he’d attract a lot of bugs! No to mention, he’d start shrinking when he came out of the water! Auntie Rhi suggested to me that I replace the rubber dino with a stuffed dino when she was looking and explain that he grew fur overnight. (That wasn’t a bad idea, actually.) And that might have been the plan (oh, how I was ad libbing as I went…) except that the egg started to crack and the silly dinosaurs head pushed up out of the crack and then this happened:
“Mom. His eyeball isn’t moving,” Bee said, with not a small bit of injury and accusation in her voice.
“Yes, well, he’s still in the water hatching,” I tried.
“But he has a line down his back,” Bee complained. And then delivered the death knell, “Like a toy has.”
I had to do it. She knew, she just hadn’t accepted it.
“Sweetie…that’s because he’s not really real.” Bee stared at me, horrified. “I thought you knew.”
Then came the flood of tears. I sat down on a kitchen chair and my baby girl threw herself into my arms. The way she threw her arms around my neck was just exactly as she had done so many times as a toddler, like I was her life preserver. Her touchstone. The one person who could fix anything. I thought to myself how one day she would realize even that wasn’t true and I’m just a person, a human with faults and no magic and who makes plenty of mistakes. That revelation was going to be even more devastating.
“I thought he was real,” she sobbed. “I told my cousin I would bring him to church and she believed me!” she said. I rubbed Bee’s back and murmured every encouraging thing I could think of. Poor Bee-girl.
I thought she was scarred for life. I worried that she would connect the dots and realize certain other magical beings didn’t exist either (she didn’t, thank god). I thought she would never recover and, oh my heart, how I hurt for her.
So of course when she talked to Uncle Joey and grandma and grandpa the next day, I knew the story of her dinosaur-who-wasn’t was going to come up. And she surprised me. “Yeah, it wasn’t real. George and Steggy are real and they still live in my garage sometimes but mostly in the woods. And…”
She changed her mind. Apparently Bee has decided her other two dinosaurs are just as real, even though I know they came up during our discussion. It was just too much for her and Bee stubbornly refused to believe that George and Steggy were just as fake as that other dumb, imposter dinosaur.
Seriously?! SERIOUSLY?? I had been loathing myself for even starting us down this path – however useful this path used to be – because Bee was devastated. And she decided to just believe bits and pieces of it now?
This mommying gig – it is not for the faint-hearted. Or for those who really value their sanity.