TWO HUNDRED THIRTY THREE…Middle Middle, chicken little

I am forever in awe of my middle child.

The same child who 7 months ago, demanded we take her in to a beauty salon so she could “spike” her hair.

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Unlike Abby, who has been exposed to peer pressure and is consciously aware of her actions in a public setting, Phoebe could care less about what others think of her. Every floor is a potential dance floor to Phoebe and she wouldn’t give a second thought to breaking out her awesome dance moves in the middle of a crowded store. No doubt, if she did that, Abby would quietly walk away from her and hide behind a clothing rack, begging me to, “Please make her stop, mom, she’s embarrassing me!”

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Phoebe’s choice of clothes almost always reflect her personality for that particular day. If she’s wearing rainbow-colored clothes, chances are pretty high she is having a good day. If, however, she is wearing grey, blue, another dull color…save yourself grief and wait for her to change her clothes. I don’t believe her choice to match her attire to her inner self is a conscious one…but more ‘matter of fact’ kind of thing.

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When we woke up this morning, she requested a trip to Target. She has a “recipe” she wanted to try. I needed to pick up a couple of things anyway, so after breakfast, we all piled into the car. Currently, we are in Springfield, Utah. The local Target is the best Target I have ever been to: It’s huge, they have more than the average Target, and the grocery section takes up half of the store. When we have days like today where the temperature is in the triple digits, I purchase a Starbucks coffee and spend all morning exploring every isle in the store. After we picked up all of her key ingredients (peaches, bananas, whip cream, and cherries) we headed over to the hair section where I proceeded to convince myself that I needed a new brush and some other items I had “forgotten” to write down on my list.

While we were standing in front of the hair accessory section, Phoebe was dancing around. She was singing and twirling and the next thing I knew, she was falling on the floor of the display case. Once she got back on her feet, she turned to me with eyes full of tears and said, “I’m having a hard day Mommy.” There was no surprise she changed from her multi-colored twirly dress to grey t-shirt and jean short overalls when we returned to the RV.

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Around the 2:00 hour, it had cooled down enough for us to go on a walk. We were just going to do a couple of laps around the park. On our first lap, we made it 3/4 of the way around before we reached the playground. There were two boys around Abby and Phoebe’s age moping around the playground searching for something to do. I encouraged them to see if they wanted to play and watched as they headed over to make their introductions. I witnessed Abby tell the boys her name and hold out her hand for a shake. And then I saw Phoebe clap her hands, do an upward head nod, throw her little non-existent hips to the side, prop one of her hands on her imaginary hip, and point with her forefinger…followed by, “Hey boys, I’m Phoebe…my favorite color is purple, and I really like unicorns.”

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I had just enough of a vantage point to see Abby roll her eyes, bury her head in her hands, shove Phoebe on the shoulder and ask her to, “Stop Phoebe, just be normal.” I had this lump in my stomach. I was trying to formulate the words I might use when she needed to be consoled after the boys made fun of her for the ‘odd introduction’ Leaving her to face peer pressure for the first time in her life. But the reaction I was afraid of, didn’t happen. The boys said something like, “Cool…you guys want to play?” Phoebe started sprinting back towards the RV. When I asked her where she was going, she yelled, “I have to change Mommy…Abby I’ll be right back!”

Five minutes later she is running back to the park wearing pink shorts, with her multi-colored bathing suit on and her purple swim skirt pulled up to her chest. She repurposed the skirt into a ruffle top. On any other child, it would have looked ridiculous, but on her, it was totally awesome. It didn’t seem to bother Abby either. She was also sporting the rainbow winter hat I knitted for her three years ago. Did I mention the hat was wool? Did I also mention it was a solid 93 degrees outside. No one questioned her new look.

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They just wanted to play.

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