Wednesday, February 21, 2018

That little blue house

I spotted it in a newspaper ad -- back when there were such things and I read every single one of them.

A truckload sale was going to Baton Rouge. On it was a picture of this little blue playhouse. For $100. I wanted it. My daughter, Lora Leigh, needed it. No, she HAD to have it.

So I sent my sister and brother-in-law, who live in Baton Rouge, to get it. They did it because they love me and they even waited four hours to get it.

Then the Coach's BFF came over and put it together (because we don't allow the coach to use power tools). And it was just precious, with a tiny little porch, a dutch door and little windows. We found a second-hand play kitchen that fit perfectly, a table and chairs, and I outfitted some planter boxes with silk wisteria. We dubbed it 35 1/2 and tried not to let her see it until her birthday.

Of course that didn't work. One day we were in the upstairs bathroom and she happened to look out the window.

"Hey! Can I go see what's in that little blue house down there?

I distracted her.

But on her birthday, after cake and all the other presents were opened, we led her outside and pulled off the tarp that was supposed to be hiding it. She was ecstatic.





She went in right away with her little friend Carolyn and had a tea party.


It was just as I hoped.

She got a lot of use out of that little blue house, playing in it, hiding in it with her friends. We hung Christmas lights on it and planted a garden around it. It was a favorite play area in our back yard, even after we built the pool. It even survived a couple of hurricanes and, like so many New Orleans area homes, got a temporary blue tarp roof after Hurricane Katrina.

But little girls grow up. It wasn't long before she was too tall to duck anymore. Wasps still liked it, though, and some mysterious critters or two.

Last summer we realized it was on its last legs. The floor was rotten. The roof leaked. All we used it for was pool noodles.

So yesterday I asked the crew that was cleaning out Mother Nature's winter wrath to knock it down. It took them only two good pushes. Now it's on the side of the road, waiting for the trash men to pick it up.

Lora wasn't there to see it go down, but I was. And it tugged at my heart a little. Her childhood is over. She's a 17-year old near-adult. Soon she'll be off to college, then to her own real little house somewhere that's not here in my backyard.

Last night when I told her it was gone she stopped for a moment, looked at me and said, "It needed to go."

Yeah. But I didn't want it to.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Seventeen

I've filled my house with pink balloons and princesses, turned a spare room into an American Idol stage, hung icicle lights from my dining room ceiling to make it look like The Great Hall and turned an old refrigerator box into a Tardis.

And nearly killed myself in the process.

I'd do anything to make my baby girl happy, you know. And for a party.

Then she turned 17.

There were no balloons, no hats, no screaming girls. Hell, there wasn't even a cake.

Instead, we had cupcakes snagged from a fancy bakery in Kenner so she could at least light a candle for her poor mom's memory stash.

And she drove.

Later there was just a low-key trip to the local pizza place with mom and dad, one of her best friends, her Godmother and God Uncle (I just made that up). We had pizza and presents and we sang to her. She was appropriately embarrassed.

My how the years have flown. My little baby girl, who once wore nothing but pink, who sang silly songs from her car seat and made us sit through endless viewings of The Wizard of Oz and Pocahontas and who taught us who Kim Possible was, is a 17-year-old young woman who binge watched American Horror Story (without me) and can sing in Korean.

She is a smart, sophisticated, gorgeous, witty, talented young lady who cooks her own food, does her own laundry and forms her own opinions. She can sing in Korean because she's a  little obsessed with Korean boy bands at the moment.

Still, she's an honor student who is in the choir, has an after-school job at a local grocery and, just recently was inducted into the National English Honor Society. In October her choir is going to New York City to sing at Carnegie Hall. You don't think I'd miss that, do you?

There are some things that don't change, though. She's still a bit of a slob, refuses to pick her socks up off the floor and doesn't always do the dishes like she's supposed to.

She also is a little obsessed with makeup and such and has become a product horder, with everything out where she can see it. No, I don't fuss her about it because she has to share a bathroom counter with her dad, not me.

But watch. She's going to be one of those girls who keeps her car spotless. You know.

She's also going to be one of those girls who moves out and never looks back. Just like I did. .

I know.

When my  mom moved in with us back in August, it was the first time we had lived together since I was 17. I couldn't wait to leave. Now I know how I broke my mother's heart.

My job is nearly done.

When she is ready, she will fly away too, to make her way in the world without me. She's not going to call. Probably won't answer my texts and will block me on Snapchat. Maybe she'll come home for Christmas. Or to do her laundry.

When she is ready -- not when I am ready.

I'm not ready.
Driving her mama on her 17th birthday.