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Oomph

August 23, 2011

My daughter Catherine showed up in my room after dinner last night with one knee-high Barbie shoe.

She had unshed tears in her eyes.

“I found Barbie’s shoe, the one you threw away when I was bad. It was my favorite Barbie and you threw it away.” I recognized the shoe. It was from the Barbie I gave Catherine when she turned two. Barbie had pink highlights in her hair, fishnets, and a lace-up black and hot pink corset to go with those knee-high boots. She was awesome, even for a Barbie.

Now, I do throw out my kids’ toys when they are bad, but I don’t remember throwing out a Barbie. I love Barbie — I throw out cheap Happy Meal toys. However, I didn’t want to contradict her, so I listened, and then suddenly, she said, “No, it wasn’t you who threw it away the Barbie. It was Nanny, and she threw it away when I argued with her.”

I don’t blame my mom for throwing out Barbie. I’m sure Catherine was being a giant pain in the neck, and I think throwing out toys, even favorite ones, is not inappropriate. My mom is a fair person and she did a terrific job with my two toddlers during the year I had cancer. However, I also knew there was more going on.

“Oh, honey,” I said. “Of course Nanny through out that particular Barbie. She’s never been into that kind of stuff.”

“What, sexy toys?” If the Barbie in question weren’t named Barbie, she’s be named Trixie, I’m sure.

“Yeah. As you say, sexy toys.

“When I was your age, I never had Barbies,” I told her. “I never even had friends who had Barbies. The whole time I was growing up, whenever I had any friends who were any kind of cool, my mom never approved of  them nor fostered the friendship. I know she only wanted to keep me out of trouble, and she was right — those were the kids who got into all sorts of mischief. But even now, she doesn’t like my edgier friends, or if she gets to know them, she likes them, but not necessarily the way they dress nor present themselves.” We discussed a couple of specific examples. My kid is cool that way. She then named a couple of her friends, the ones with the attitude. “So, Nanny probably wouldn’t like …”

“Once she got to know them, but yeah, probably not so much at first.”

Catherine was quiet. Then she said, “Oomph.”

“Oomph?”

“Yeah, you know, people with oomph.”

She acted it out. “Oomph.” Where did my daughter learn to sashay like that?

“You’re absolutely right,” I told her. “That’s like, the opposite of my mom.”

“Do you have oomph?” she asked me?

“Not so much. I mean, I can, but usually I like to keep a lower profile.”

“Yeah, I know what you’re saying,” said my kid. “But it’s nice to know I can put it on when I want to.”

“Me too,” I told her.

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