Addie's preschool had their winter carnival last weekend, and Addie and I went. There were crafts, and a big potluck, and the music lady led the kids in some rousing holiday carols (including a kickass version of the Kwanzaa Song, which seemed to puzzle many of the smiling but baffled parents in the room, none of whom were African-American, I think).
Anyway, all throughout the festival, I had these moments where I was filled with swelling pride for Addie. I was proud of the fact that she came to the festival (on one of the coldest days of the year) dressed in these little red capris, which are droopy in the drawers, a completely unmatching orange, too-big shirt with bell-sleeves, and brown and pink cowboy boots. Her hair had some serious cowlicks in it, too. All the other little girls were dressed in frilly, foofy Christmas dresses, tights, and little princess shoes (in case you hadn't noticed, princesses are big among the 3-5-year-old set). But I don't think Addie noticed the discrepancy. She is always most interested in being comfortable--she hates anything tight or scratchy, and loves what she calls "soft pants"--velour pants with elastic wastebands in bright colors, or sweats. Princess clothing is noticeably uncomfortable, with lots of scratchy netting and itchy, constrictive bodices. Addie is only theoretically into princesses, at this point. Thank God.
I don't know. I guess I was just really glad to see her there, looking all Ramona Quimby, totally at home with herself. Her friends were really happy to see her, and gave her big hugs, and dragged her off by the hand to run screeching around the big reception room. I know that in a year or two she'll probably really start caring what she looks like, and kids might start to make fun of her for scratching her butt in public so much. And maybe, internally, she's starting to think about these things, too. For now it's cool to see her just being Addie.
I was also proud of her when she didn't get a jingle bell handed out to her during the caroling, and she didn't freak out or anything. She just held up her little fist, imaginary bells clutched tight inside it, and shook it up and down in time with the music. And during crafts, when everyone else was making cards for "Santa," Addie was making a friendship card for her buddy Zachary. Awesome.
The best part, though, was at the end. This being my first Winter Festival, I didn't know how things go. But apparently a lot of the other parents did, because the minute the last song ended, several of them swooped down into the group of preschoolers, grabbed their kid, and clawed and scratched their way into what was to become the Santa line. By the time I figured out what the hell was going on, we were behind 45 kids all wanting to sit on Santa's lap. At this point, the stomach flu that was about to hit me for the rest of the weekend was coming on, and I wasn't totally sure Addie would sit in the old guy's lap anyway, and so I explained to her that we wouldn't be able to see Santa this year.
"I can totally see him, Mom!" she said. "He's right there!"
And he was! He was right there. She hung out in front of the stage for a few minutes, staring at him and sucking on her hair. Then she was ready to go. So we left! No tantrums, no freakouts, no wailing about toys or expectations or anything. And again I was proud of my girl, and so glad in that moment that she was her strange, quirky little self. Because she is just one of the best people I've ever met. Christmas blessings abound.