July 12th, 2011

Dancing Chocolate Cake

Linda Kennard

As I watched Jay grow from infancy to age seventeen, I expected (without realizing) that she would evolve into a version of me. That is not the case. Jay is Jay: unexpected, confident, wise, mature, funny, and surprisingly selfless.

Jay and I went to a Sheryl Crow concert recently. Jay went because she knows that I like Sheryl Crow, whose music makes Jay sick. Literally. For years running, I listened to Sheryl Crow on our annual road trip from wherever we were living to my extended family’s cabin in Montana. Since Jay frequently experiences motion sickness, she developed an association over the years. Play a few measures of “Soak up the Sun,” and Jay starts feeling queasy.

Before Sheryl Crow came striding across the stage looking beach-body perfect in her faded jeans and wavy hair, we listened to the much more understated Colbie Caillat, who looked uncomfortable in the high heels she had worn. Sometime after “Bubbly” and before “I Never Told You,” Colbie kicked off those heels and, Jay and I agreed, looked decidedly more comfortable singing in bare feet. For her closing song, Colbie performed Fleetwood Mac’s “You Can Go Your Own Way” and invited the audience to dance.

I stood in front of my chair next to the aisle, half-heartedly swaying to the music. Without alcohol, I don’t dance. I’m sorry this is true, but it is true nonetheless. When I glanced at Jay, I saw that she, like me, was only swaying. I worried then that my self-conscious hesitancy was contagious, that I had infected her with my awkward inability to lose myself in fun. I was stewing about this, wondering how I could tell Jay to please ignore me, to have fun despite me, to just dance, when she inched past me.

And Jay danced. She danced, and laughed, and sang in her torn-up jeans, her Sketchers with the glittery-eyed multi-colored skulls, and her Rob Zombie T-shirt (that’s eerie enough to frighten children). My daughter, who is not me, danced in the aisle—with abandon, without care.

My Aunt Marie once told me that seeing your children for who they really are is like pulling chocolate cake from the oven when you prepared cherry pie. The good news, Marie explained, is that you like chocolate cake—in fact, you love it. So you need only accept this little surprise as the gift that it is.

Baked to perfection and frosted for fun, Jay is my dancing chocolate cake.

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This Weeks Tip

You would think at our age that we wouldn’t have to worry about these things. But, as Kate will attest, even at *ahem* 27, untimely breakouts can (and will) happen. What to do? Apply an ice cube for 30 second. Then soak a cotton ball in eye drops and press it to the “spot” for 3 minutes. The theory is that the ice and drop combination will cause blood vessels below the surface to contract—leaving you looking, well, a little less like Rudolph.