Rosie is a force of nature...she is a free-spirit. She plays a mean harmonica for someone only here for three years now. In this portrait, she is hyped on her musical energy and curious about the camera pointing our way. I am just sitting...just watching...just breathing her enthusiasm in. Mother of three children, and I am just now learning to find my center in the chaos of our wild, magical life together.
Two weeks ago, a woman made a rude comment about Rosie's joyful squeal in a restaurant. I had just placed her lunch in front of her and she was thrilled in the way that only a three-year-old who very rarely gets to dine in a fast-food-joint could be. I exchanged some words with the woman...which is so incredibly unlike me, pointing out that it was "not a library, but a public place--and not a very special one either". She looked at my child like she hated her...pure vengeance on her face. She continued on in an angry tirade.
The boy-o whispered, "What's wrong with that lady?"
Petunia's face flushed and her eyes brimmed with tears,
"Mommy, can we just please go home now."
"No," I said loudly, "You all eat your lunch. It's okay...that woman isn't very kind."
Rosie ran a french-fry through ketchup and grinned crookedly at me. Another diner came up to us and boomed so that everyone could hear him,
"Miss, I have four children at home...your little girl didn't do anything inappropriate at all. Don't listen to that lady. You're right--this isn't a library or a five-star restaurant. Have a great day."
Petunia relaxed...boy-o stared at the woman curiously...Rosie laughed at my shaking fingers as I handed her some juice. I was quaking with rage, indignation, and fear because--for once--I'd actually stood up for myself.
Rosie is my personal storm front...all thunder and lightning. She is so different from me that I sometimes wonder about the strange amalgam of DNA and chance that made her the child she is. As I sit and learn to accept life in all of its odd and profound beauty...to accept myself in this same way--I am able to do the same for the child I love so dearly, but often do not understand. I do not have to change her, to make her small, to silence the cadence of her young female voice. Too many others will seek to do that for her over the course of life already. Sometimes, the greatest teachers come in pint-sized, electric bodies--wielding harmonicas and silly smiles. She instinctively understands what these words I'm currently carrying with me, mean:
"Two or three things I know for sure, and one is that I would rather go naked than wear the coat the world has made for me." --Dorothy Allison--
My baby is cut from this same independent cloth--shedding the neatly chosen roles already laid out for her--and baring everything...