Raising Richmond: Scenes from the summer

Summer is winding down. Here are some memorable moments from the last few months: popsicles, swimming, and lots of Weird Al.

My daughter: I want to watch a photo.

Me: A photo?

Her: Of the one that I like. About the man who can’t eat anything.

Me: The video we watched last night? (referring to Weird Al’s “Fat”)

Her: Yeah. “I’m getting fat!”

— ∮∮∮ —

While driving home, Paramore’s “Ain’t It Fun” comes on the radio.

Me: It’s your jam!

Her: It’s not my jam; it’s your jam!

Me: It’s not my jam. I thought it was your favorite song.

Her: (crying) It’s not my jam!

I turn down the radio.


— ∮∮∮ —

Drawing has been her biggest hobby lately. Her dad paints a lot, and when she sees him paint, she wants to paint or draw, too. Her specialty is heads with arms that shoot out of the sides and are on top of little stick legs (by the end of the summer, the heads have teeth). Sometimes they are self portraits, and sometimes they are other people. We have sheets of drawn heads all over the house and in the backseat of the car (it seems that every place she goes gives her an opportunity to draw something). Toward the end of the summer she presents a drawing to me that is a “snowman jumping rope” and a “broken teenager.”

We are about to go into Mexico Restaurant for lunch, and she picks up a drawing from the car and says she has to give it to the man (we don’t know which man). When we go inside, she hands the drawing the person who shows us to our seat.

“She drew it for you,” I say.

“OK,” he says.

— ∮∮∮ —

She and I have gotten home past her bedtime because we had dinner at a food truck court (burgers and gelato). We both go outside while I take the dog out, and immediately she strips down to her underwear and is in her tiny pool. It’s really hard to stick to bedtime on the weekends.

— ∮∮∮ —

We eat red-fruit popsicles on the front porch. It’s very hot and windy. As she slowly eats her popsicle, the red fruit juice flies from her and keeps hitting my white blouse, which I have miraculously kept stain-free. I get up to get a napkin, leaving her on the front porch. There she is, behind the porch door, her face dripping with red, like a pint-sized vampire waiting to be invited in.

— ∮∮∮ —

Before her Saturday swim class, my husband and I drop off our daughter at the kids’ area at the gym so that we can work out. While I’m finishing up, she and my husband walk up to me and ask if I have her bathing suit.

I do not. There was some confusion. He thought I had packed it in her gym bag, but it was still hanging somewhere to dry.

Either way, we don’t have it. She is very upset about this. In my few years as a parent, I have never felt so bad about something we’d done. She loves swim class. We pace around, trying to keep her calm and think of our options. There’s not enough time to go home and get it. Our friend who is coming to swim class doesn’t have any spare swim shorts. I almost ask a mom whose five-year-old girl is finishing swim class if we can use her swimsuit.

My daughter is sulking in the gym lobby while we wait to return our locks at the front desk. I have only one last thing to try. I pull a pack of fruit snacks from my purse. She lights up and runs over to me to get the bag. She is happy again.

I am sad for when fruit snacks won’t fix everything.

— ∮∮∮ —

My husband is out of town for four days, and on Friday night my daughter and I watch Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs for the first time. She loves it, and watches it again the next morning. And the next morning. She loves talking like Steve the Monkey and especially likes Baby Brent. There’s a scene where Baby Brent pulls a wagon full of sardines. Kids shout “Watch out, Baby Brent,” as the wagon of sardines falls over. He says, “Uh-oh” and puts his index finger on his lip.

No one is as committed to anything as my daughter is to reenacting the Baby Brent commercial from Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.

She does this all day on Saturday, but since I missed that part of the movie on the first watch, I have no idea what she’s doing (although it’s very funny). By the end of the weekend, quotes from the movie are about 50 percent of what she’s talking about. I feel like my husband needs to watch it immediately just to get up to speed on what she’s talking about. When he watches it for the first time, I actually get excited for him to see it. Now he knows what we mean when we tell each other “Steve!”

— ∮∮∮ —

I bring home a tomato from a coworker.

“Oh I love tomatoes,” my daughter tells me.

“You do?” I ask.

“I’m not going to eat them until I’m an adult,” she says.

— ∮∮∮ —

My husband’s friends are coming to dinner. The couple just moved to Richmond. My daughter is really excited to meet the male half. His last name is Butts.1 She cannot stop talking about him. The night before they come over, the word “Butts” is said a record-breaking number of times (a million?) at our dinner table. She has never talked about another person with such enthusiasm. It’s made me lift the ban on the use of the word “butt” as an improper noun. It makes life a lot easier to have one less thing to monitor. Also, “butts” is funnier than “bottom.” And I like to say “Hold on to your butts” while driving. It’s a win-win.

— ∮∮∮ —

My brother throws out the first pitch at the Flying Squirrels game. Or, really, the tenth first pitch of the night. He gets free tickets because of it, but he has to leave for work as soon as he’s done. My brother gets me, my daughter, my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew on the field with him. The kids get some personal Nutzy time, my daughter gets to play catch with her uncle, and I get to enjoy the amazing view of the Diamond from the field.

It’s an “’80s Night” theme, and one of the ten pitches is thrown by the Ghostbusters. After the first pitch2 we sit in great seats (I now think it’s worth it to buy the $11 seats). The weather is perfect for a ball game. It is overcast all day, but not humid. And after the parade of snacks (hot dog, popcorn, and Dippin’ Dots), my daughter continues to happily hang out for maybe 20 minutes. This is the first time she’s been to a baseball game that I actually got to watch a significant part of it. It’s a glimpse of the good things that come with non-squirmy ages. It doesn’t hurt that she’s sitting next to her cousin and they’re both playing on their chairs. Whatever works.

— ∮∮∮ —

My daughter has been having a hard time falling asleep lately. She’s up until almost 10:00 PM sometimes (way past her 8:00 PM bedtime). She tells us “My brain won’t let me sleep.”3 One night, after she calls out for me from her room, I come back and sit down with her for a little while. This probably helps keep her awake, but I don’t know what else to do. I tell her a few stories. After stories she wants me to sing. I can’t recall the complete lyrics to many songs when I am not hearing them (it’s an issue I discovered after she was born), but she requests songs from my small catalog.

“What do you want to hear?” I ask.

“Sing ‘I’m fat,'” she requests. That is, unfortunately, one of the limited songs I know the lyrics to.

I sigh, and softly sing, “Your butt is wide, but mine is, too.”

Photo by: Ranpuba

  1. Previously mentioned here
  2. I don’t remember if the throw made it to the plate. I thought it did, but he said it didn’t. 
  3. My husband figured out that she got that line from an Olivia book. Also she once told my mom that she couldn’t sleep because a mama banana and a baby banana were talking in her head and they wouldn’t shut up. 
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Kelly Gerow

Kelly Gerow lives and writes in Richmond. She probably does other stuff in Richmond, too.

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