When I was 5-years-old I lived across the street from a family very similar and yet very different from my own. They had a daughter named Ashley who was my age. We played together almost everyday. I loved going to her house. It was so different. Ashley had blonde hair. Ashley’s mother had blonde hair too. She wore pastel sweaters, pearl earrings and Dockers. When I would come to visit she would serve us lemonade, vanilla wafers and fruit. Ashley had a playhouse in her backyard that we played in all the time. We would play house and oftentimes I would be the mom and she was my daughter. I liked to sweep the playhouse while she “got ready for school,” which usually meant making her lunch and packing books in a backpack.
Things were different when Ashley came to my house to play. My mother wore jean shorts and baseball tees. While Ashley’s mother’s hair was short and straight. My mother’s was curly and wild. When Ashley came over to play, my mom would serve us soda and cherry popsicles. My dad would set up our wading pool under the slide on our swing set so when we slid down we would come crashing into the water.
I’m not telling you this to talk about who’s home was better. I think they were both great. Ashley’s parents were always very kind to me and while I wish her playhouse was in my backyard I was still satisfied with my home life. But it is true that our childhoods were different. Her dad played golf a lot and so he wasn’t home all that often. My dad worked in the oilfield, so he wasn’t home either. And they both read the newspaper every day. Also, both of our bedrooms were disasters. I remember going to Ashley’s house one day to see if she could play. She was napping, but Ashley’s mom thought she should get up anyway so she let me in to wake her. Her mother was very unhappy with how messy the room was. I don’t know why I remember that.
Catarina was gifted a playhouse from one of Craig’s former co-workers. It belonged to his two sons. It is wood, has a weather vane, patio and place for cooking and cleaning. It even has a basketball hoop. I’ve made it my goal to give it a makeover. New paint, maybe some flowers and for her birthday she’ll likely get toys that she can keep outside in it. While planning what I wanted to do with it I started to think about Ashley’s playhouse. How cool it was and how much I coveted it as a child. It made me think about how different our worlds were and yet we could play together every day and not really think about our differences. It made me think about the kind of life Catarina is going to have growing up. Will it be full of vanilla wafers and pastel sweaters? Will it include cherry popsicles and wild curly hair? Hopefully both.
Right now it is full of bananas (her favorite) and rain boots because that’s what I wear most of the time. Her evenings are spent dancing to music with her dad and aunt, watching Disney shows while mom tries to find 10 minutes to cook dinner. There are lots of books that are read over and over again and of course lots of digging in the dirt. And soon there will be a playhouse. A place for her to go and make believe. Will she be the mom sweeping dirt out of the house? Will she be the daughter packing her lunch getting ready for school? I think, if she’s anything like her dad, she’ll eventually bring books into her house and sit on her patio to read. But I could be wrong. She might be like mom and always hover in the kitchen.
I’m pretty excited to see how this plays out.
Ashley moved away when I was 6. A new girl moved into her house who was older and not very nice. When my mom was pregnant with Tori she said I could choose her middle name.