Most of my essays focus on our daughter, Ava, who is 10 years old. Posts tend to revolve around her because she’s the child on which we’re practicing our parenting skills. Yes, we have two children, but no — we’ve never had a tween before. Everything that happens to her for the first time happens to us for the first time. So, there’s more to write about. There’s more to worry about.
But nothing in parenting has been easier than having our second daughter. Maryn, age 7, might be the world’s most laid back kid. She’s carefree and simple, fun and funny. She’s the opposite of me as Ava is my clone — anxious and cautious. But Maryn is exactly like her father, and that’s probably the reason why I love her so much.
She entered the world at a whopping 1o pounds, covered in doughy, alabaster skin and with a feathery head of reddish hair. She had denim blue eyes and a round face that revealed hints of dimples in those full cheeks. She was strong and she was determined. And man, could that kid eat.
Maryn grew up to become a strawberry blonde with the wildest waves in her hair; unruly swirls and bends that still make brushing and combing a type of torture session. As a toddler, she was surprisingly quick, running into walls and furniture (and later on, signs, poles and parking meters) because she never took her eyes off her surroundings. She’s the explorer in the family, a curiosity that I possessed as a young girl, but from the front porch steps.
I suppose these are the reasons why the Disney movie, BRAVE speared my heart like an arrow from Merida’s bow. Even the Celtic names are similar. Maryn…Merida. This is the daughter who drove her mother crazy because she wanted to be creative and free. Her life’s goal was to buck tradition.
This past Christmas, Maryn asked for an archery set, which we bought (the rubber suction cupped kind) and quickly regretted. Her first target was Ava’s life sized cardboard cutout of Harry Styles. Maryn drilled the One Direction singer right between the eyes. Older daughter screamed in horror. Younger daughter smiled in accomplishment.
Maryn is the daughter who has taught me how to be a tougher girl. When she fell off our bed and suffered a goose egg bump and multi-colored bruise on the forehead, she went through the CAT scan machine without a whimper. I sobbed anyway. When she dropped a can of tomatoes on her little toe, smashing the nail like it was one of those Romas, she bit her bottom lip as tears welled in her eyes. “It’s okay to cry, ” I told her. “I’m all right,” she replied.
And she was all right on the first day of preschool and the first day of kindergarten. She was all right when Mike and I went to Cincinnati for the night to see Paul McCartney in concert. And she was all right when she drank milk when we didn’t realize she was intolerant. (Well, after about six hours she was all right.)
She smiles through the hardest times, just like her dad. Maybe it’s her cosmetic way of gritting her teeth, but whatever the purpose, it works. I wish I had half of her courage.
This summer, Ava was given tickets to see One Direction in Louisville, KY. The tickets were so outrageously priced that I could only afford two in the last row of the upper balcony. I fretted for weeks over having a couple of seats instead of three or four. While Maryn didn’t love the boy band from Britain, she would’ve loved going to a concert. I woke Mike in the middle of the night — another one of my antics — and told him that we simply had to get tickets to something else, just for Maryn. It may have been my best idea, but it wasn’t my finest hour.
I jumped out of bed and looked for acts within a four-hour drive of Charleston. I had no idea Taylor Swift was on tour, mainly because Ava refuses to listen to her music since she dated Harry Styles. However, Maryn loves Swift’s music and knows the words to most of her songs (perhaps to irritate her jealous sister). Swift would be performing in Pittsburgh on July 6 at Heinz Field with Austin Mahone and Ed Sheeran, two other performers of the popular set. Two tickets…upper deck…west side…$67.50 each. I cringed. But Maryn asks for nothing and goes along with everything.
Two tickets. Sold.
Mike took Maryn to Taylor Swift’s Red Tour concert, in her sister’s clothes I might add, because I forgot her dress and shoes on the living room couch. She never complained — another one of her admirable qualities — even though the tee hung to her knees and fell off her shoulder. ”It’s fine!” she said, prancing off to find their “cheap” seats.
Around 9:00, I received a text from Mike. Singing, dancing, having a ball.
YOU? I texted. The man’s first trip to the Steeler’s stadium, and it’s a rock concert for 57,000 screaming kids.
When the show was over, Maryn bounced into the hotel room wearing a new Taylor Swift tee-shirt (size small) and carrying a commemorative Troy Polamalu cup. “Eight bucks,” Mike sighed. “Free refills, but I wasn’t about to climb those steps twice.”
Maryn crawled into bed and turned on her dad’s cell phone. He had recorded a few numbers so she would have something to remember. In the background, I could make out some of the performer’s words.
“This one’s for all of the brave girls!”
And my quiet redhead cheered.