It may sound strange, but when you're busy taking care of another person, you tend to forget they're closely, but subtly, watching you. It doesn't occur to you as you're wiping noses, driving them to practice, fighting traffic, and kissing boo-boos that you are now a role model; and the template from which your child will duplicate themselves is housed in you.
I don't feel as though I'm Dudley Do-Right of this episode, I'm more of the Goofus quality. It is by no means a confession of self-loathing, more of an observation of the way I trip my way along until I figure things out. The good news is I eventually do figure it out, the bad news is I do so with the grace of a drunkard walking home after two dollar pitcher night at the pub.
I don't like the idea that she's watching me, and will someday use my behavior for justification for her actions, good or bad. I feel like Rhianna with her boobs and butt hanging out smoking a joint and complaining, "Role model is not a position or title that I have ever campaigned for."
Well, sister, it goes with the territory. As it does for me, obviously on a lesser scale. My parents were always fond of telling me, "Do as I say, not as I do," when I would cheerfully remind them of obscenities they would yodel when pissed, or when they would do anything else that I believed I was unfairly told not to do.
But this goes on a deeper level. I was reading my old journals, and I got downright nervous as to what kind of human being I was/am, and what kind of person my daughter might end up thinking is the ideal female.
I have had a journal since I was five years old. Obviously in the early years, it was my mother transcribing my thoughts for me into a little red diary I named "Precious."
Precious was often the confessional for all my exciting pre-school activities, such as "Today I watched Pink Panther on t.v., and took a nap." Riveting.
After Precious, (thank you to the movie Precious for negatively changing my interpretation of the word) came Lacy. Lacy was a name that really showed off the depth of my wild imagination, and clever mind, because the diary was covered in pseudo-lace.
Lacy and I began our confessor and confessee relationship in March 2nd, of 1990. I was eight years old, and had slightly more interesting content than Precious ever saw.
June 1st, 1991.
Today is sunny & warm. School's out. Ricky dumped me, but I think Joey has a crush on me. I like him again. I got a B+ in math.
That part about Ricky dumping me? I was in third grade. I'm sure that meant Ricky didn't sit next to me during story time, so obviously our relationship of sitting next to each other on the round woven storytime rug was over. Tragic.
Oh, but there's more. It gets worse. (Suddenly, I understand why some people only want to have only male children.)
November 18th, 1991
Remember I told you about the goldfish Crystal Light I got for my birthday? Well, he died today. I cried and cried. Dad and I sent his body off down the river. Crystal Light taught me a lesson. When you have time, hold it, love it, don't waste it like I did.
Wow. Where to start? Well, first there's how I spoke to the journal like we were having a conversation. Nothing says lonely child like making bound pieces of paper your friend. Second, I appreciate how my father indulged my drama, and allowed me to give the fish a river funeral, rather than the typical flush down the old toilet. Finally, that last sentence. It's like I felt as though I was starring in my own very special episode of the Jane Show, where one of the main characters dies off, and through my sitcom I teach the viewers how to deal with love, and loss. Given my reaction to a dead goldfish, I'm sure my parents were very excited for me to later enter the dating pool. (You think she's bad now? Wait til she gets her heart broken by her first boyfriend at the age of fifteen. She cries through two double rolls of Charmin. You start to wonder if you're going to have to use paper towels for toilet paper if she doesn't cheer up.)
May 11th, 1994
Today we went on a tour to the junior high. It was cool. Mom grounded me from t.v. and reading, just because I talked back. So all I have to do is write an entry. Lately I've been swearing a lot. It helps me feel better when I'm mad. I love Sam's eyes, even though Eve is going with him, I don't think he likes her. I think Eve is a stupid
Can you smell the hormones wafting off of the page? I was twelve, and oh so rebellious. I was the type of badass who wrote dirty words in my journal, and then scratched through them in case anyone would see. (Take notes, Justin Bieber. Cuz that's real gangsta.) As for the Eve chick who felt the need to critique my blossoming pasty puff body, I know exactly where she is today. She lives on the "poor" side of town, and has eight kids. She's pregnant with the ninth. She's not sure who the father is. It's probably her cousin. Eve has two teeth that have not rotted out of her face, because she has a meth habit. Strangely enough, though, instead of sporting the skinny meth body, she's really quite plump. Eve still insists on wearing belly shirts, because she's sexy, and she knows it. Her cousin lover always calls her his little Butterball Turkey, after he comes home from his job at the prison, where he's cheating on her with an inmate named Bubba. Late at night, Eve thinks back on May 11th, 1994, and wishes she'd been a bit nicer to that dramatic chunky kid named Jane. Because her life really took a turn for the worse after that, as it is a known law of nature that the types of kids that are mean little assholes go on to have miserable lives.
Not long after that entry, I graduated from Lacy, into several other journals. Over the years, instead of improving, my condition became worse. Let's take a peek.
November 10th, 2003
Upon first touch
All that is hers
And then wonders
Why he vanishes
Like a breath of air
In the winter wind.
Tears flow now
Although no stranger
To her face-
These tears have
A bitter taste.
Now pick up a knife
She draws a line on her skin
To see if she is real
And so she bleeds
Oh, hells no, girl. I just want to hop in a time machine, go back to 2003, take the journal out of emo-Jane's hand, and slap her upside the head with it. "Get your ass back in school, and stay there! Quit focusing on this ridiculous shit! Do you know that in eleven years, you won't even remember who this poem is about? And also, I'm embarrassed to even call it a poem! It sucks! Take a few writing classes while you're at it! And lay off the men. The type you like right now toxic, and you're too young and dumb to handle them."
Ultimately, the dilemma is this. I've got my mini-me thinking I'm pretty great, and all these journals lying around that could take my kid into Bad Exampleville, USA. Although she's already exhibited signs of being just as dramatic about things as I was, so it might just be genetic. I've kept the journals so long because relics from the past are neat. I've always wanted to have journals from great-grandparents that I could have read to see how life was for them. But I really don't like the idea of leaving a legacy for my great-grandchildren where they see that Grandmother Jane was a bit of a head case, calling other girls
I truly am starting to believe that these journals need a one-way date with a bonfire, before it's too late and my daughter begins to do as I say, and do as I do.