Last Gasp of a Pink Comforter
This story starts with a search for socks. Just bear that in mind . . . later (much later) it comes into play here.
See the little girl there, flower in her hair, eyes in deep anticipation of the soapy bubble about to expand from the end of that yellow wand in her Dad’s hand? That’s my middle daughter. From the picture here, you’d assume that she was neat, tidy, clean and just made up for cuteness and adorable perfection. You can just picture her waiting to head from this photo shoot to grab her My Little Pony or Strawberry Shortcake dolls and have a tea party with her Barbie.
You’d be wrong, of course.
As much as my daughter looked like that in photos when my wife was around, her real, normal look was something more like this:
That’s her on the top left of the picture there. Her normal look, too: hair filled with leaves, a flannel shirt and black pants. That’s it. She may as well live in Seattle with that look.
My wife, God bless her, wanted another “girly-girl.” She wanted nothing more than to have tea parties, play with dolls, eat cupcakes, and do all the things with her daughters that she did herself as a little girl. My oldest daughter did all that. We have tons of pictures of her playing dress up and having tea party birthdays.
Hannah played soccer and basketball.
This, however, drove her mother absolutely, maniacally, crazy.
Andrea, my late wife, tried everything in her power to feminize her daughter. She braided her hair . . . only to see Hannah with half the braid out and gum stuck in the rest of it. She would put it in pig tails only to find one of the tails out and the other still on . . . seeing me call her “Daisy Head Maisy,” after a Dr. Seuss story. I laughed. My wife did not.
The last bastion of compromise for my wife was to decorate her daughter’s room. When she was small . . . that little kid you see up there in the top, possibly younger, we painted and decorated her room in a space theme. I painted planets on the wall . . . Saturn and Jupiter, there to let her dream of weightlessness every night.
A couple years later, though, her Mom determined she should ease the femininity back into the theme. So when we moved to California Hannah got a room with pink bedding. To be fair, it had a sports theme . . . pink borders with a soccer ball pillow (with pink pentagons rather than blue or black) and girly-looking sports themes in the comforter. My poor wife, when she unveiled the new look of our daughter’s room, was more than a little crestfallen. Hannah looked at it, said “thanks, Mom,” then ran outside to play. It was, after all, bedding . . . and it was pink.
But Hannah was my wife’s pal. They were two peas in a pod those two, so she lived in that room, slept under the pink covers with little pastel-themed sports figures on them. Every night, she slept there.
So here’s where we get to the socks. My dress socks have holes in them. All of them do. I just needed socks . . . a good pair of sturdy socks to wear under dress pants for work. So when I stopped to get socks the children insisted on going inside Target with me.
On the way to the men’s department we saw the end cap with a bunch of bedding on it and saw this:
“Dad, can I get a new comforter,” my daughter asked?
“What’s wrong with your old one?”
“Does it have holes in it?”
“Is it ripped?”
“It . . . is . . . pink.”
“Is it stained with something?”
“Dad . . . it’s PINK!”
I sighed, grabbed the set, and put it in the cart. Along the way new shirts, pajamas and shoes were needed. After checking out, nearly wretching at the $177 bill, I got into the car and headed out.
“Thanks, Dad,” my daughter meekly said.
I came to realize, then, that this wasn’t just because the comforter was pink. It was because she was coming to terms with another change, this one a change of coming into her own. It’s a lot to read into a comforter, I’ll grant you, but a pink comforter you never liked isn’t something worth keeping as a reminder of your mother. That, after all, was why she’d kept using it. But now that she’s fifteen, old enough to know she doesn’t have to like pink bedding . . . she’s letting some of that go.
It’s hard to let go. I know that all too well.
So I mussed up her hair, told her she looked like “cousin It” from the Addams Family, and said it was okay. The pink bedding will find a good home with someone.
I wasn’t sad about getting rid of the bedding and it seems she wasn’t, either. She wanted to continue to move forward and moving forward required leaving the pink comforter behind.
We got home, put away the groceries, and I took out the pajamas and shirts and put them in the wash. I was understanding of my daughter’s decision.
It was then, after taking out all the other stuff we’d bought that I realized it.
$177 later, having driven home . . . I still didn’t have the socks.