Thursday, June 14, 2007

Date night with Moonshine

Tonight after dinner I had the pleasure of going out on the town with Moonshine, my five-year-old daughter. It's not often I get to have some one-on-one time with any of my three kids, or vice-versa. So this was a real treat!

Actually it was a bribe, if you want the truth of it. The girls had been goading me into becoming a stark raving lunatic at bedtime with all the yapping-pushing-jabbering-pinching needling-banging-shrieking that was going on in the bedroom. All this and they were sleeping in different beds! Inevitably the carnival of noises would begin just as I was lulling Kitty Bill to sleep, and several nights in a row of this nonsense pushed my last button. So rather than beat a dead horse, in my deepest hour of desperation, I offered up a bribe. Go to bed without a hassle, and earn a sparkly smiley-face sticker! Earn ten and go out for a night on the town with the Mom. Alone. My undivided attention! As if that wasn't enough, I threw in the promise of a sugary treat to boot!

My friends, let me tell you how superbly this bribe is working! Twelve nights later, both girls have filled up their little chart with smiley faces and are simmering with anticipation.

So tonight, I took Moonshine out. She gussied herself up in her newest outfit --the glittery silver Dorothy shoes and "beehive dress" that had her squealing in delight at the used children's clothing store. (How can you refuse your child a beehive dress?) And she even brushed her hair!

She was very cute about it. She wanted to bring some picture books along, I guess, in case she got bored. She's so like Einstein! Alas, I talked her out of the books and we headed over to a local alternative coffee shop where they have vegan cookies. We picked out our treats and drinks and she chose a table in the back room near a shelf of books and board games, where upon in a matter of minutes she proceeded to slaughter me in a game of chess. She's five, people. And she had me in checkmate in about 6 or 7 moves!

Moonshine clearly has a few facets that I'm not aware of. This is my dreamy child who chews on anything within reach, wipes food in her hair at every meal, and blindly walks into traffic. The freaky flip side of that is that she memorizes entire plays, has a keen eye for discerning between children's book illustrators, and spends an exorbitant amount of time (and interest!) memorizing film trivia for the numerous old musicals and shows I have let her watch in the past year, such as Mary Martin's "Peter Pan"--"Mom, Maureen really did a good job in that play, didn't she?" Or "The Wizard of Oz," which has developed into some kind of crazy obsession with Judy Garland and Margaret Hamilton. At any given time of the day Moonshine will ask me to Google somebody she has been thinking about, which is how we discovered that the Wicked Witch also did a hilarious stint on the Addam's Family tv show in the 60's.

Obviously, there's more to Moonshine than meets the eye. Tonight I got to see a huge glimpse of that, and it was very refreshing. And yeah, she beat the pants off of me in chess. I had no idea how well she played. I don't think she had any idea... because she laughed with delight when I conceded that she had won, and then she modestly offered to take the move back so we could continue playing. I let her keep the win, and we started a new game which she quickly tired of. So instead we let our pawns dance around and gallop across the board on their valiant steeds. This was more along the lines of what I had originally expected, but just when I started getting comfortable in my knowledge of her, she picked up her queen and began speaking for it, with a perfect British accent that came out of nowhere, ordering the pawns around like disobedient children!

We left the cafe in a flurry of cookie crumbs and on a whim I took her upstairs to a vintage clothing and jewelry store where she was really in her element. Now, I have to confess that I'm not a clotheshorse or anywhere near fashion savvy... I'm pretty clueless about such things, but Moonshine is a bird of a different color. She immediately began fingering all the clothes and exclaiming over the jewelry. We "dream shopped," and she picked out a full-length gold- sequined coat, an embroidered handkerchief, and a vibrant pink dress with a pink sequin and lace bodice, which she decided was the absolute perfect wedding dress for herself. She's all about the fancy, this one. On the way out she clasped onto a silky black dress in the "Addam's Family section," and swooning, exclaimed that she could "never let go of it again." It was just "too warm." Warm? "Soft," she said. Sensorily complex and fulfilling.

That's Moonshine all over.

We rounded out our evening with a walk over to the library because she wanted to bring home one book for everyone in the family. Ha! Thirty books later we headed home, happy and content. It was such a blast to see her shining in her own light, neither overshadowed by her older sister nor overwhelmed by the screaming needs of her younger brother. I was both surprised and delighted with the person that came bubbling out of that beehive dress.

This is the best bribe yet. I only wish I would have thought of it sooner, and of course I can't wait to do it again!


  1. What a lovely post. It's so wonderful to read how you create space for each of your children to shine in their own way. Moonshine sounds like an incredible person. And yes, who could refuse their child a dress with beehives?

    I think I'll be working on some date night ideas for my kids, they've really been in each other's hair lately. Thanks for yet another simple but brilliant idea!


  2. How wonderful -- both the original concept, and the actual event!

    Thanks so much for sharing. I feel like having a date with each of my girls, now.

  3. wow she does sound like a lovely child! What a joy!

    Your sticker idea is a great one!

  4. This is fabulous! Moonshine reminds me of Nightowl in soooooooo many ways. I must take a leaf from your book and remember to focus on one at a time, occasionally.


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