I’ve been thinking a lot about promises, and not just because I’d promised Saoirse weeks ago that we’d take her to go see Cars 2 this weekend–her first movie in an actual theater, with actual candy (she says this in a hushed whisper, as in, “I get to have [whisper] candy?!“)–only to open the paper this morning to see that it’s not actually playing anywhere around us yet. I try so, so hard not to ever promise her anything unless I can guarantee it happening, but alas, my own excitement in taking her to the big screen made me a liar.
Building good character in our girls is something that concerns me more than it probably does the normal, non-caffeinated person, maybe because I’m so worried about my own. I want our daughters to grow up strong, and honest. I want them to be “followers-through:” meaning, if they say they’re going to do something, they’ll do it, and in a timely fashion–unlike their mom, who’ll receive a check for her birthday, say, and not cash it for about 72 years because a) I don’t want to appear greedy, and b) I don’t want to spend the money on something frivolous, because you know I will if it’s just weighting down my pocket (case in point: do I really need to buy both the People and Vanity Fair magazines that had Princess Kate on their covers? Or how about those shoes that seemed really cute online, but when they arrived looked like something a duck would wear to go clubbing? Cash in my hand is like giving sugar to a hyperactive, sleep-deprived toddler. Not. A good. Idea). I want my Saoirse and Quinlan to be the sort of people who are respected. People others can count on. I want them to walk down halls with their heads up and shoulders back. And I want to be the sort of parent who models this kind of character for them naturally, without trying. Basically, I need to be the kind of person my kids will want to be when they grow up.
Hmm. Take that chunk of philosophy and chew on it for awhile, why dontcha?
I was outside the house with the girls this morning, packing Quinn into her car seat before we ran some (constant, never-ending, mind-numbing) errands. Saoirse approached the car with a dandelion flower clenched in her fist. “I got a flower for you,” she said, holding the wilting petals up to me, “because I love you.” Besides my obvious glee that oh-my-gosh-she-gave-me-a-FLOWER!!!, SK’s gift made me think of when David and I first met. My birthday happened to be just a week and a half after our first date, and he sent me flowers at work–they weren’t too big (but still flippin’ pretty. Dude knows how to buy flowers. Hear that, David?! YOU SHOULD BRING ME FLOWERS), but just enough to say, hey, I remembered and hey, wanna make this thing exclusive?. We got engaged just a ridiculously impulsive/stupid/annoyingly romantic three months after that. And I promised to love him forever (or at the very least, make sure to share the remote for the rest of our lives).
We make promises all the time. There are the biggies, of course. My wedding anniversary’s coming up, and I’m still a little shocked that it wasn’t last week I was a young(er) girl in a cute sundress getting on a plane for my honeymoon. When we have children, we’re making a promise the instant they’re born that we’ll take care of them, and make sure they get three square meals a day with snacks in between, and read them stories before bedtime, and kiss them before we turn in ourselves. When we form friendships, there’s a silent promise that we won’t betray our friends, or lie to them when their recent haircut’s a hot mess. But there are the small ones, too, that show people the strength of us: making sure we walk in the door when we say we will, or having breakfast on the table before the children start fainting around the kitchen or gnawing off their arms. The promises we keep–not the ones we make–are what show our true characters, which means that we cook that dinner we promised our sick neighbor, or drop off those hand-me-downs we keep offering our friend. It means I really need to cash a danged check when someone’s kind enough to give me one (sorry, Donna). Maybe I should just subscribe to People now and save myself the self-induced guilt trip.
By the way, I just checked online and found a theater that’s showing Saoirse’s movie this weekend. (Be glad you missed my happy dance–it was some awful cross between a jig and the polka.) We’ve been talking about Cars for over two weeks now, but Sunday, I get to load my daughter into the car, pay for her very first movie ticket (in a theater a half-hour away from our house, but a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do), and watch her face when she sees Lightning McQueen zoom across the big screen for the first time. And yes, there will be candy. After all, I promised.