The ‘gratitude’ category

The Reckoning Week 59: The Very, Very, Very Small Stuff

April 30th, 2021

I’m standing in the kitchen at 7:45am, completely naked. We have to leave for school in 20 minutes, no one is dressed, and I am squinting at a tiny little gold-colored, flower-shaped bead as I try to superglue two of the microscopic petals back on. 

My daughter was curious what would happen if she bit the bead. The problem is, this is a bead her friend F. lent her overnight and she has to bring it back to F. today. She’s hysterically pleading with me to “fix it!!!” But I can’t fix it. I manage to jam the broken-off piece back on, somewhere close to where it was before, prying my super-glued fingers apart. It’s not good enough for her. Although, guys, you be the judge:

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Phoebe follows me around, whining, begging me to fix it better. I try to troubleshoot. That’s my nature. “Perhaps you could bring F. one of YOUR beads,” I suggest.

We have an enormous collection of beads from all different sources — so many beads they have an entire craft bin to themselves. But this is apparently an unacceptable solution. At some point, I start stonewalling her, and she is forced to come to terms with the heartless reality of the no-longer-perfect bead.

When we get to school, she jumps out of the car, and I see F. run right over to her. Phoebe opens her palm, and they both stare down. It occurs to me this is about much more than a bead. It’s about social dynamics and my six-year-old daughters beginning to form female friendships. 

I am 49 years old and still tight with some of the women I’ve known since I was my kids’ age, or even younger. I have made a lot of fantastic female friends in the decades since, but this group of women will always be my tribe, my sisters. We’re bonded by ill-conceived shenanigans executed when we were still basically children — some of which were both illegal and highly stupid. We’re also bonded by the lives we’re shared over the years of singular and collective troubles and joys. 

One of the beautiful things about being nearly half a century old is that you can rest assured the girlfriends you have had since you were a child will never abandon you. Ever.

All of this had been going through my mind over the past few days as I marveled at the social development of my daughters. I thought I had come to a place of respect and understanding of the fixation on tiny little things (both literal, as in a bead, and figurative, as in, the small stuff you shouldn’t sweat). That is, until this morning, when I woke at 6:45am to my daughter’s miserable crying from the other room. 

I hauled out of bed and rushed in, expecting to find a sick child. “Are you okay? What’s wrong?”

Phoebe, heartbroken: “I can’t find the bead!”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

What I’m reading:

There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing

Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino

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What I’m watching:

Murder Among the Mormons

What I’m working on:

Strivr: Q&A with Josh Bersin: The post-pandemic employee experience

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