Growing up, my Dad would often pause in conversation and look at me with a smile. I usually knew what was coming.
“Mary Katherine.” [Insert here that- yes- my name is Mary Katherine. I dropped the “Mary” for some reason around early elementary. No one knows why.] “I looked around at alllllll the [preschoolers/second graders/seventh graders/whatever-ages], and you know what?”
“What Dad?” (says the preschool/second grade/seventh grade Mary Katherine)
“You are the neatest one I know.”
I heard this from my Dad my whole life. He looked the whole world over, and I was the neatest kid of that age that he knew.
By the time I got older, I would roll my eyes at him. But usually smile, too.
Now I say that to my kids. I like to play it up sometimes, talking about how I went around the world and looked at all the preschools while Monkey was in Mrs. Bruce’s class that morning. Or went and visited every single first grade class in the city of Charlottesville that day, which was complicated because I had the baby and the little Turkey with me. But- he is the neatest preschooler I know. And she is the best first grader I found, hands down.
The other day we were in the kitchen and Monkey said it back to me:
“Mommy. I went and tried to find the best Mommy and Papa in the whole world.
I couldn’t find them so I chose you.”
photo by the talented Laura Merricks