Saturday, August 21, 2010

Order Up: One Staircase

As I mentioned earlier, when my parents went house-hunting , I ordered one with stairs. When you’re young it was always fun to explore different houses, and having one with stairs made the exploration an adventure.

And my parents understood that. So I got a house with stairs.

I think they preferred the extra bedrooms.

The house was painted avocado green. It went nicely with our avocado green fridge.

It had four bedrooms downstairs and only one room upstairs. It was a really big room. At least 30 cartwheels worth! To my upset, this was not going to be my bedroom. We put the TV up there instead.

I consoled myself with acrobatic exercises on the stairs. There weren’t any risers on the steps, so I could slide through the steps and hang upside down. It was pretty cool.

We would hang there forever and let the blood rush into our heads. I’m sure our parents were excited to know the stairs provided such an interesting service. When they were house hunting, I’m certain they said, “Let’s buy this house so the girls can hang upside down from the stairs!”

At almost four, I certain that’s what my parents had intended.

At thirty five, I’m not so sure anymore.

It is probably more likely that they were counting bedrooms. Apparently, we were going to need the space…

Friday, August 13, 2010


The center of it all.

My parents were hoping it would become the touchstone of our family, and it did, but it took time. All really good things take time.

We joined a small Catholic church where my mom became a member of the choir. My dad wasn’t Catholic at the time, so he went through the classes. He took Thomas as his confirmation name. It fits him perfectly…a doubting Thomas he was.

He had four sponsors…which is also a good thing. He needed a lot of people to keep him quiet when the priest said something he didn’t agree with. My dad is a pistol. His mother called him her “banty rooster” because there wasn’t much he wouldn’t challenge. He has no fear.

I am like my father in many ways.

Dad finished his classes and became Catholic and I would have to say, he is more of a Catholic than I am. (He still rolls his eyes when the priest says something “stuuupid”. At least no one has to slam a hand over his mouth any longer!)

It was while Dad was going through his classes that he met a very special family. The wife of this union saved his seat for him before every class. Knowing her as I do now, she was probably praying every day that Dad would show up. She knew he needed God more than most people.

My mom jumped into every organization head first. She sang, helped with the nursery, and joined some kind of ladies’ group. It was the ladies’ group that introduced her to one very special family. The wife of this union was to become very important to me.

So, we were now members of this small church, hoping to form friendships, praying for this new place to become our home, but unable to fathom how wonderful it would all become.

At almost four, I wasn’t that impressed. I couldn’t believe I was having to waste precious daylight for the pleasure of sitting, kneeling, and standing. And sitting, kneeling, and standing some more.

I did like the music. I sang as loud as possible.

And…according to Maria, I needed to go and beg for forgiveness for killing her blanket. It was one of the commandments, she informed me imperiously.

I thought, what was the big deal? Mom sewed the thing back together, I told her…as I rolled my eyes.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Oh, The Horror!

Maria calls it murder.

I call it...the incident...

Scissors are an amazing tool. You can take something larger and make it smaller in one slice. So, one piece of paper can become two…and then three.
You can also cut out the pictures you draw. Hearts, flowers, shapes…

It was astounding.

While cutting out pictures and cutting paper in half required skill, I decided I needed a much bigger challenge. Anyone can cut paper, you know.

As I stood at the desk, the sun streaming down onto my beautifully cropped pictures, I turned and saw Maria standing at the china hutch. She was still in her pajamas.

Her pajamas were really quite pretty. The gown was white, with pink flowers and there was a pink ribbon tied around her waist. But one side was rather long. It was so long, in fact, that it was trailing the ground. Hmmm…

Maria had her back to me, and I, impressed with my abilities, and looking to expand my talents, walked up behind her and…cut her ribbon in half.

She turned around and was quite shocked to see half of her ribbon lying on the ground.

“Kara,” she exclaims, “why did you cut my ribbon?!”

I didn’t answer her question, instead asking my own. “Let me see your blanket.”


“Just let me see it.”

(Remember, I am a genius. Everything I did was awesome.)

So, the innocent that she was, she hands it over. I, without an ounce of guilt, cut her blanket in half.

Her scream rips through the quiet of the early morning. I killed her blanket, she cries!

I look at her like she’s an idiot because…blankets aren’t alive.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Flyin' South For The Summer

The summer before I turned four, we moved to a town south of the San Jacinto (a moment of silence, please), and north of Houston.

We lived in an apartment for a short time while our parents looked for a house. I ordered one with stairs…

Maria and I got the master bedroom in this apartment. It was HUGE! I could do 16 cartwheels from one end to the other. Can you believe that???

(You don’t really believe that, do you?)

Well, they were cartwheels performed by a confident three-year-old.

The china hutch came with us, as did all of our toys, thank goodness. I was worried they would get lost in the move.

We quickly investigated all the fun things to do in our area. There was a Mexican food restaurant that put candy in the bottom of the chip basket...I approved of this place.

There was the Ice Cream Emporium, where I ate my first egg salad sandwich, and several hundred vanilla cones. Blue Bell, of course. I approved of this place.

And, there was…wait for it…a POOL! I also, if you don’t already know, approved of this place.

So, surprise candy, egg salad, Blue Bell, and a pool…pretty nice. And I still don’t understand why that other town is so danged famous…

Maria and I thought we were in Heaven. Good food, relaxin’ by the pool, a huge room (with our own bathroom, by the way), and all our toys. Life was good.

Until……the night was shattered by an ear-splitting scream...


Dun, dun, dun...

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I do not hate this color at all. In fact, I think it is quite beautiful. But it certainly gave me much pain for several years.

I have red hair.

My parents have black hair. So does Maria.

No one, and I do mean no one else, has red hair in my family.

Why is that all famous orphans have red hair? Annie, Anne of Green Gables, Heidi, and Tom Sawyer have red hair. I’ve even seen Oliver played by people with strawberry blonde hair. Why do they all have red hair?

It was a cause of concern for me. Was I an orphan?

My mother and father reassured me I was not, but it wasn’t like you could explain the birds and the bees to an almost three year old. And my dad had some kind of joke about it. It goes like this…

“Do you know why Kara has red hair?”

“Because I was a little rusty.”


I get that joke now. I didn’t get it when I was younger, thank God!

Anyway, my red hair was absolutely one of the more tragic things in my life. First of all, no dolls were made with red hair. Second, it was thick and coarse and impossible to tame. And third, it was the color of carrots.

Just like Anne said. Carrots. She and I are truly kindred spirits.

Monday, August 2, 2010

"Get to" and "Have to"

Two-year olds are expected to begin having a relationship with the toilet. No more diapers. No more care-free days. It is time to become responsible, to allow something besides your own imagination control parts of your day.


So, my mother introduced me to the toilet and he and I did NOT get along. How dare he make me stop playing! How dare he make me consider that there are other things to think about besides follow-the-leader! I was very put-out.

And lucky Maria didn’t have to worry about this at all! She was allowed to go right on thinking that the world was her’s to command! And here I sat on something so cold and hard and quite boring.

The person who said being the oldest child was better than being the middle child, or the baby, was an idiot. The reason I have no qualms using such harsh language is because this idiot is assuming that the oldest child actually WANTS to go first. The idiot also assumes that going first is easy and fun and empowering.

How can I disagree with this logic? (If you can call it that.)

Going first means you don’t have ANYONE to talk to about your experience. There is no one around to give you advice. No one is available to sympathize with you, or show compassion for, let’s see…starting school first, going to middle school first, getting your license first, graduating first. These are all very hard things to do when you have no one to show you how to do it.

I’m sure some of you are saying, “What about your parents?”.

I was their first child. I was their guinea pig. I was the “trial-run”. Even getting financial aid for the first time was an ordeal because my parents were learning how to apply for it at the same time I was!

Anyway, here is where I clarify “have to” and “get to”. Those younger than me always said, “Kara gets to go to school and I don’t! Kara gets to drive and I don’t! Kara gets to graduate from the eighth grade and have a special party and I don’t!”

I would like to turn all of those “get tos” into “have tos”, if you don’t mind.

There is also the matter of being a “tough act to follow”. The eighth grade party I mentioned earlier had to be done for Maria. But since we’d already had one, I believe it lost its special glow. (Not for me, mind you. I was very happy to see Maria reach her “rite of passage”.)

But for Maria, I think, sometimes, she was disappointed that reaching her milestones didn’t seem as special. (Even though they were and she better not argue with me!)

So, there I was going through something I found absolutely horrible, and Maria seemed to think it was great. She thought it was so great, that she actually began using the potty herself. At that time, anything I did, she wanted to do. Remember, I was a genius.

Maria was potty trained at ten months. I wasn’t done until I was three.

And so begins a pattern of the first child “having to” do something and the second child “getting to” do it, too. Because waiting was just…OUT OF THE QUESTION.