I’m not sure what all the cool kids are calling it these days, but you know that thing when one of your kids is extra strong-willed and wants to fight you on every little thing? Like they wake up in the morning ready to take you down and you’re pretty sure they’re going to eat you for breakfast and have their way with you? You catch yourself practicing scenarios in your brain, like, “Okay, if she fakes left, I’ll go right and convince her the cereal is her favorite using my Jedi mind tricks.”
When I first locked eyes with Evie all those years ago I could see it in her gaze — strength, defiance, determination. We’ve had countless battles of the will and she continues to befuddle me daily with her unwavering gumption. She drives me to the brink of total face-melting every day, and I work so hard to stay one quarter of a step ahead of my obstinate, brilliant girl.
You know when you step outside of a situation and see your child in a different light? You get a glimpse of how the thing that frustrates you the most is actually his or her greatest asset and you marvel at the way he or she is wired. Today at the playground I saw it. The strength of will, the unbreakable spirit, the courageous heart.
A couple of big boys were twirling on the merry-go-round when Evie came over. She wanted on and they weren’t slowing down. Instead of waiting for a break or asking for my intervention, she hurled herself at the merry-go-round, grasped the bars, and hung on. She whizzed around and around, using her tiny strong arms to pull up onto the spinning circle, and she turned her face to find mine and grinned triumphantly.
She was a warrior. Several older girls came over and cried for the big boys to “Stop! I want a turn! Mommy!” But the boys, and Evie, kept spinning and spinning. They finally slowed down and the girls climbed on and their mom cautioned them to sit down on their bottoms in the middle and hold on tight, and Evie kept hanging on to the outer rim, legs flailing in the wind, arms covered in dirt from her lethal grip on the bars, and the wind whistling through the huge grin of her teeth.
I was screaming “YOU ARE AMAZING! You are strong! You are brave!” She held on and on and I saw all the fight and gumption and defiance and glee as she conquered the merry-go-round.
Respect bubbled up in my heart and I saw all these traits that I’ve been bumping up against used for all the right reasons. She’s going to hop on whatever merry-go-round she wants to, no matter how big the people running it are. She’s going to go fast. She’s going to hang on and use all her muscle and fight for what she wants. She’s not going to beg for something to slow down. She’s going to hurl herself at it and catch it and grin.
This tiny little teacup of a child is one of the strongest, bravest, fiercest people I know. And I get to tuck her in at night. The Unbreakable Evie Dale.
I’m pretty sure she’s going to conquer the world.