Frankie: Frankie is a seven-year-old study in contrasts. On the one hand, she wants me desperately to walk her to the door at school and make sure we have an actual sight-line on her teacher before I leave but on the other hand she says such grown-up things and has such a sarcastic sense of humor that I sometimes forget how short she is. She is probably not growing much for either of two reasons 1) her paternal great-aunts area about 4'11", just shy of midget hood or 2) she comes home with one third of a bite of sandwich and one bite of apple at lunch. Then she hightails it back to her indoor recess. Now in my day, there was no such thing as indoor recess. If there were, I would never have had Scott Stone throw a football at my face and I would never have been able to form that Fart Club with my friends (Silent but Deadly, etc.). I was rather terrified of those large groups of children and would much have preferred reading inside or playing school. Frankie gets to do this twice a day. Somehow she and her girlfriends are allowed to stay in the classroom and putter around for both recess periods. This means she gets exactly thirty feet of walking in per day and maybe that's why one bite of peanut butter and jelly sandwich is probably sufficient for her caloric expenditure/intake needs.
Frankie is an excellent big sister to Susannah. She finds activities for her to do and plays with her in her nursery and guides her by the hand and tries to find snacks for her. She always refers to herself as "Frankie." "Frankie will find some crayons for you to draw with. Should we get beautiful crayons or ugly crayons? That's right, sweetheart, we will get beautiful crayons!" Sadly, when it comes to her middle sister, there is a great deal of yelling and pushing and general irritating one one another. I have told them in no uncertain terms that they WILL be best friends and they better start acting like it. Molly really gets Frankie's nanny by suddenly being uncooperative or losing interest in a game they have started, like playing school. Frankie will be dutifully teaching sight words and suddenly Molly will say "Frankie, I'm not playing this anymore." When I hear that, I grab on to the nearest hard surface and hold on tightly because I know I am going to hear "MOLLY, YOU HAVE TO DO YOUR SIGHT WORDS, YOU CAN'T JUST STOP PLAYING THE GAME! MOLLLY! MOLLLLLLLLLYYYY!!!!" Meanwhile, Molly is placidly making her ponies run races and ignores the wailing and gnashing of teeth. As I recall, my little sister did the same thing. I would be at my wits end and ready to stab her with a kitchen knife just to get some reaction out of her, so I really feel for Frankie even as I am trying to explain that sometimes people want to play a different game and she can't control the universe.
Molly: Molly is turning five next month. She wants to get started on all aspects of her birthday party including baking the chocolate cake. Every day I have to explain why we can't bake the chocolate cake. And every day she is bitterly disappointed. She is also bitterly disappointed with each day's activities. I will play bingo, do a puzzle, teach her some reading, read some books, play My Little Pony, and the next thing I hear is "We never DO anything." She wants a playdate every day and begs me to call my friends. Each hour I hear "Call Miss Carley, Mom. See if Claudia and Jake can come over." On the other hand, she also doesn't like to leave the house. If I announce we are going grocery shopping, she slumps over into a wailing heap. If I announce that she will be spending a few hours with Oma and Opa, suddenly I am the best mom in the whole world and she can't bear to be separated from me. Molly is also very proud of two wardrobe options: one is a sleeveless sundress that she got from her aunt and uncle for her third birthday. The bodice can barely be buttoned and I am quite certain she can't lift her arms above her head. But periodically she will disappear and reappear in that flower-splashed gown to have me tie the sash. I also told her she could buy a dress for her birthday. I made the mistake of saying that in Meijers when we were grocery shopping and we had to hightail it to the kids section post haste. She immediately gravitated to a purple and black rayon number with rhinestones, organza, giant silver hearts and various other hideosities. I hate when I allow my children a say in their wardrobe. Thankfully, she found another dress she liked better at Target, but when I told her it was rather delicate and I didn't want her to wear it around the house all the time, we had to compromise by letting her sleep in it every night. So each evening she is swathed in royal blue pleats and a yellow flower at the waistline. She has other sartorial quirks, including refusing to wear either pair of "Ugg" boots I bought her without wearing three pairs of socks. Do you know how irritating it is to be running late to school and have a child insist on having three pairs of socks put on JUST SO? The answer is highly irritating indeed.
Susannah: Susannah is a constant yakker. If I get the privilege of grocery shopping alone with her, she keeps up a running commentary about what I am doing. "That is chocolate milk. I like chocolate milk! I put it in a big girl cup, Mommy? I no spill. I don't, Mommy. Daddy is at home, Mommy? No. No, he not at home. He at work, Mommy. Oooh, ice cream. I can have it, Mommy? Here, I get it. I can." She got her first haircut a week ago. I trimmed the fifteen hairs that comprised her mullet and she looks so much like Frankie with her teeny weeny bob. Except, much as I was worried about Frankie's lack of hair, I realize we are actually worse off with Susannah's. Like her sisters before her, it gets very fuzzy after naps and refuses to lie down with water and a comb. Maybe I can start flat-ironing it. She remains very cuddly and loves to be kissed and tickled and generally mauled. Except by her sisters. She and Molly yell "NO!" at each other all day long. There is no maternal relationship on Molly's part at all. Sukie is also very presumptous. She helps herself to to an candy she finds without batting an eyelash, she declines to follow orders, she stands on counters to rummage for sweets, she tries to apply mascara or put diaper cream on all her dolls. Then she looks at me square in the eye as though she has a perfect right to do each of these activities and would I please move on so she can proceed.
Sukie also has the wonderful quality of being dissuaded easily. With Frankie, I would dread telling her that she couldn't ride in Dad's car she had to go in Mom's or we were going to skip a book at bedtime because it was so late. I would brace myself for the onslaught of screaming. With Susannah, she will usually object momentarily and then cheerfully say "OK." She has a soft Cabbage Patch doll that she got from her grandparents that she calls her pink baby and carries with her everywhere. When I went to put her to bed the other night, I realized I had left it at my parents' house. I inwardly braced myself to break the news and was convinced I'd shortly be making a phone call begging them to bring it over. I started with a story about how her pink baby was having a sleepover at Oma's and we'd see her in the morning! Brightly! Smilingly! Terrified! But she looked at my joyfully and said "My pink baby. She sleep at Oma's? OKAY!." In that moment, she was definitively my favorite child.