The poise of a Punk Rock Unicorn

Digging through the bag of fabric paint, she knows exactly what she’s looking for. The body of the unicorn gets turquoise blue in swirling dabs, while the mane, tail and tiny hooves are carefully added with small, precise strokes of bright pink. Next, the horn and three music notes are added in dark purple.

Smiling, she dips a slim brush into a glob of sparkly gold and begins adding dots around the large black lettering of her band name, “Punk Rock Unicorn.”

“This looks so good,” she says.

She doesn’t ask what I think.

She doesn’t worry if her bandmates will like it.

She loves it.

“Can you paint my nails?” she asks. “Some blue and some pink. Oh, and with gold tips!”

I say yes, but I struggle to make it happen. The main color doesn’t reach the edge of every nail, and the gold tips are uneven.

“Sorry,” I say.

“They are perfect,” she says while wiggling her fingers in front of her face. “Thank you!”

It’s time to leave for her band’s show, the culmination of a week of Girls Rock Camp. She is wearing her favorite leggings, a faded swirling galaxy of pink and purple with visible holes in the knees. Her hair isn’t brushed and it’s matted in the back where she slept on it wet.

“Are you sure you don’t want to wear a sparkly skirt and brush your hair? Maybe add some color?”

“I look fine mom,” she says. “I’m comfortable.”

I want to fight her.

I want her to care more about how she looks.

I want her to look more put together.

But there she is, my Punk Rock Unicorn, smiling at me without any hesitation at all, while I changed my outfit several times and still wasn’t happy with my own reflection in the mirror.

This is all I’ve ever wanted for my girl, to be unapologetically herself, to not shrink for anyone, and to rock everything she does without fear or doubt.

Her confident smile is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

At the show, I watch her and all the girls playing instruments and singing with a reckless joy I don’t know I’ve ever felt in my life.

They are brave, free and strong.

They are working together, not in competition, lifting and rising as one.

I’m so happy for them…until I’m not.

Something inside starts churning up, this voice of perfectionism and criticism.

Why is my girl singing so quietly? She isn’t smiling and doesn’t look as confident as some of the others. Why did she act shy when she was given a compliment? I’m sure it’s my fault, something I’m doing wrong. I’m ruining this perfect girl.

After the show, she runs to me and hugs me hard. She has bright blue eye makeup and sparkly lip gloss her coach put on her backstage. Her arms feel strong and solid.

“Did you have fun?” I ask her.

“Yes!” she says.

“How come you looked so shy up there? Why weren’t you smiling more?”

The words come tumbling out before I can stop them. I recognize this voice, the very same one sabotaging my writing and stopping me from doing anything I might fail it.

Shit.

I don’t want it to be her voice.

I search her face, looking for any trace of damage my words may have caused.

“What do you mean?” she says.

Her face is as radiant as ever.

“I’m very proud of you,” I say. “You really rocked it up there! It looked so fun. I bet you are proud.”

“Thanks,” she says. “I am!”

She melts into me, the warmth of her body like a blanket soothing my critical voices and giving me another chance.

Always another chance.

I remember her plan to have her bandmates and coaches sign her shirt.

“People are starting to leave,” I say. “Did you still want to get signatures?”

“Yes,” she says and runs off to borrow a pen.

I watch her go and make it happen for herself.

Her confidence isn’t loud or boastful, but calm and careful.

She gently taps friends and coaches, asking them to sign her shirt, standing still as they do.

I see many are holding the tiny pink unicorn erasers she spent an hour digging out of the bins in her room, the ones she so thoughtfully brought for them all.

My heart nearly bursts.

This girl is everything.

After the show, we head to dinner and she gives the waitress one of the teeny unicorn erasers, a light pink one with a purple mane and tail.

“Did you see her smile?” she says. “I think she liked it.”

“Yes,” I say. “You make everyone smile, just by being you.”

“Thanks mom.”

*For more information about Girls Rock Sacramento visit http://www.girlsrocksacramento.com

 

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The saga of the magical blue unicorn

I have to admit it. She is pretty glorious.

That silver-flecked mane, fuzzy blue fur and pretty pink hooves can cause fits of “ahhs” in most anyone. Then, if you hug her, you’re just done for.

It’s over.

She owns you.

I do think her silver horn with pink rings is a bit tattered. But the ridiculous softness of her muzzle on your cheek makes you forget all about that.

Lately though, she has caused a major upheaval in our happy home and I’m frankly ready to send her packing.

We have a history so it’s hard to just toss her out on her furry blue stuffed bum. But I’m close.

So very close.

Maybe I should start at the beginning of this sordid tale. It all began at a garage sale about four years ago.

“You aren’t getting another stuffed animal,” I tell my kids as we cruise around the neighborhood. “Books, yes. Stuffies, no.”

My children have a very severe stuffed animal addiction.

I’m not kidding.

Seriously, I have never known two children to be more stuffed animal obsessed than these two.

They have “stuffy pits” in their rooms and boxes in the garage of the second-string stuffed animals that get rotated in and out of the pit.

I wish I made that up.

I created this mess, but it is beyond me now.

I’m fairly certain both my children will be carrying a beloved stuffed animal down the aisle with them when they get married.

It’s happening.

Back to the day of the garage sale:

“No stuffies,” I repeat over and over at each house as both children hold up an array of ratty-looking animals proclaiming things like:

“I don’t have a skunk stuffy!”

“But look at his eyes mom!”

“This one told me he NEEDS me!”

I stayed strong and we almost made it home with a few new books.

That was until my boy saw her.

She was sitting on a blanket in the grass, her mane sparkling in the morning light. He danced over to her, swept her into his arms and literally cooed.

I swear. It was a coo.

I braced myself for what I knew was coming.

“Oh mom,” he started. “She is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Just look at her. I need this unicorn. She needs me. I have to have her.”

This is when something crazy shifts in my head.

My adorable little boy is begging me for a pink and blue unicorn. The sweetness/cuteness factor was too high. I tried to resist. I did.

Then he kissed her and hugged her so tight that I thought my heart would burst.

Damn it.

We are getting another stuffed animal.

She was the light of his life for about a month and then she was replaced by some other favorite. Although she wasn’t his “number one” anymore, she never left his bed – the place of honor and love reserved for the best of the best.

Then one day, about a year ago, his sister took her and started to play with her.

“I love her!” she proclaimed over and over.

My boy, in an attempt to feel like he is growing up, gave Miss Unicorn to his sister.

“Really brother?” she said and then cooed.

I swear. She cooed too.

“Yeah,” he said. “She is yours now.”

I could see the look of doubt and regret right away, but his need to feel older and like a super brother won out.

That day.

Since then, there has been a serious of feuds regarding the ownership and care of this beloved unicorn.

“I found her on your floor!”

“You gave her to me!”

“You don’t give her enough attention!”

“You gave her to me!”

“She loves me more!”

“You gave her to me!”

“I wish I never let her go!”

“You gave her to me!”

Buckets of tears and many yelling matches later, sister has held tight to her claim.

It’s been clear to me that she has no real attachment, but that she doesn’t want to give into her brothers desire. Because, clearly, “he gave her to me!”

Yes. I certainly get that.

My parenting philosophy on kids fighting is to stay out of it unless it comes to blows or until I can’t stand to hear it anymore.

Then I storm in, yell and everyone ends up fuming alone in their rooms.

Mother of the year.

Yesterday the unicorn battle flared up again and I thought my head would explode.

“That’s enough!” someone (who sounded suspiciously like me) yelled very loudly. “Everyone just stop talking! Rooms! Now!”

Miss Unicorn then went into a secure location to recover from the trauma of it all. I considered never, ever letting her out.

You’ve caused your last fight you sparkly-mane troublemaker.

Then this morning happened.

My boy was sad. He is going through an emotional growth phase, 9-year-old stuff, and he woke up feeling overwhelmed by everything today. He lay on the living room floor feeling the weight of life and crying his eyes out.

I lifted him up, blanket and all, and cradled him on the couch. (No small feat, anymore. He is getting enormous.)

As I was comforting him, here comes sister with Miss Unicorn.

My brain went into a tirade.

Are you freaking kidding me? Please don’t start this shit. Don’t you see how sad he is! Really? What is wrong with you?

She comes right up to us and rubs the unicorns muzzle on his cheek. She uses the horn to wipe away his tears and smiles at her brother.

“You can have her back,” she says. “Don’t be sad.”

He smiles and hugs the unicorn tight.

“I love you,” they both say at the same time.

I may have cooed.

Thank you magical unicorn.

unicorn

An hour later.

“Well, maybe we can share him?”

“No. I don’t want to do that.”

Shit.