Friday, February 25, 2011

Squirrel dress

When Olivia was around three, and into age four, she had just a few items of clothes that she would wear. Mind you, her closet and drawers were filled, but there were only a few pieces that she would actually wear. One outfit was a powder blue bodysuit, with a tutu attached to it. She wore this with rainbow striped tights, and red sparkly shoes. She wore this to the supermarket, to the library, while eating meals. She loved it. She even wore it to a museum and everyone smiled at her, thinking that she had dressed up for the occasion. Little did they know the battle that would have ensued if I had dressed her myself.

Then there was the squirrel dress. A hand me down from my sister. It was a denim jumper, with patches on the bottom of it of a squirrel, and acorns, and oak leaves. When Olivia laid eyes on this dress for the first time, it was love at first sight. The tutu ensemble was cast aside. The rainbow tights and sparkly shoes replaced with "big girl" patterned tights, and hot pink cowboy boots.

I had to make sure the squirrel dress was ready to go each day. This meant getting it off of her at night, and doing laundry after she went to bed. Not really what I felt like doing at the end of the day, but it made her happy. Such a simple little thing made her smile each day. Why wouldn't I?

Charlotte had the infamous pink skirt. It was a long tiered prairie style skirt. She literally wore it until the elastic started showing through the waistband. She insisted on it still being part of her repertoire, even when it was leaving red marks around her middle. My friend Nichol used to laugh each time she saw Charlotte in it. You would have thought she had no other clothes. She loved it. And I loved that she loved it.

Those days seem like yesterday, yet the memories are starting to get grainy. Replaced with current day to day life. Bigger girls. Bigger wants. Bigger needs. It becomes more complicated to make them feel that pure happiness. The kind that the squirrel dress brought. Or the security of the pink skirt.

Things are not so complicated socially, yet, with Charlotte. Not so much with Olivia. She calls me into her room at night when she has a problem. I love that she does this. She is me. She needs to get it all off of her chest. She waits until the time is right, and confesses. These days, it's girl trouble. I remember it well. The awful start of cliques, and mean girls emerging and heading the pecking order. Olivia told me that she was mean to her friend the other day, at recess, because some other girls thought it was a good idea. It made me angry. It made me feel so sad that all my hard work was wiped away at the mere suggestion of some nameless, faceless girl. It also made me feel sad. Gone are the days of everyone just playing together, and having fun. It becomes more complicated from here on in, and it breaks my  heart.

She told her friend after recess, that she was sorry. Thank goodness she has a conscience. She asked her if they could still be friends. Her friend said yes. She came home and confessed, and cried, and cried. She said that she just wanted people to like her, and she didn't want to be alone. I just wanted to cry for her. I just wanted to put her back in her squirrel dress, and cowboy boots. I wanted to take her back to the days of rainbow tights, and tutus, and eating breakfast with a tiara on. We were in such a vibrant, rainbow shimmered, soap bubble. All protected from nameless, faceless people. Where whatever I said, was gospel, and everyday was easy, and filled with simple happiness.

I feel like Olivia's time in our bubble is morphing into something else. Like all soap bubbles, the rainbow swirls on the skin of it disappear, and turn to black and white swooshes, just before they pop.

She was up all night throwing up last night. We have had no sleep. Yet in the quiet of the night, after she was done dry heaving, and the temporary wave of feeling better washed over her, we sat quietly together. Her, on the bath mat. Cross legged. Her hair back in a bun. I thought to myself how much older she looked. What a young girl she is turning into. With worries, and insecurities. But also with confidence, and joy in all she does.

Today, I will let her drink soda. I will feed her crackers. And maybe some soup. I love feeling needed this day. It is my simple happiness. And it brings a smile to her face. It is pure, and easy.

Today, we are still in the safety of our bubble. For just a bit longer.


  1. I know that bubble and see it disappearing too. And we were home sick today and I was grateful she needed me the way she used to.

    We didn't have a squirrel dress. We had purple clogs, and the butterfly pants and a few versions of leopard print dresses, which we sadly realized last week we'd outgrown the last of....

    Think I'll make a new one this weekend....

  2. Hi Erin,
    My name is Jennifer and I saw an article about your blog in the Times Herald-Record. The article was in this Sunday's paper (Sunday Feb 27, 2011). Thank you for writing this blog. These days people are struggling with all different kinds of financial stress. Either from credit card dept, back taxes, to foreclosures. We are also living paycheck to paycheck. I did some grocery shopping today and my husband text's me and tells not to go over $60. I did good. $58.95 at Price Chopper. I am just glad that we are not alone. Sometimes it feels like it...

  3. I adore this one, Erin. beautiful cherished moments expressed. also makes me kindof crave a squirrel dress. love u.- darlene