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Pickle Me This

August 13, 2013

Going Out With Harriet

IMG_20130812_170034During the last weeks of my pregnancy and in the six weeks after Iris’s birth, I wasn’t able to pick up Harriet, and when I was finally permitted to pluck her up again, there was no plucking about it–she’d become enormous. Part of this is actually true–I think a growth spurt took place somewhere around her fourth birthday. And the rest of it is that I spend my time carrying about someone who weighs just ten lbs, and so Harriet at four times the size really is quite large. Once in a while I become struck by her massive nostrils and monstrous thighs, a logical consequence of spending much of my time staring at parts that are baby-sized.

We have been lucky this summer that we’ve had as many parents as kids around all day so that Harriet has not had to suffer too much of a dearth of attention. Though her need for attention has certainly ramped up since her sister arrived, but I am getting the sense that things are settling down and in a few weeks, our whole lives are going to be constructed around Harriet’s school day as much as the presence Iris anyway.

But I have missed Harriet. This I wasn’t conscious of until our week at the cottage when Harriet was often at loose ends, and we ended up spending more time together than we had since the baby came. “Oh, this!” I thought as we worked on her sticker book, when we played “Motor Boat” in the water, had a rainy day picnic on our cottage floor. While I would never say that Harriet and I have a special bond that does not include her father, it is true that we spent most of her entire life together from 9-5, Monday to Friday. And it was very nice to spend that time together again. Nice for her, sure, but nice for me too. It had been awhile.

Yesterday, Iris was asleep in Stuart’s arms and I was suddenly compelled to visit the bookstore. “Come with me!” I asked, and she agreed once I’d promised to buy her a book to make the journey worthwhile. And so off we went, her hand in mine (which remains the greatest privilege of my life), her new purple boots on. We tramped up Brunswick to Bloor, and along the street to Book City, whose staff are some of the loveliest people around. Harriet walks around the store as if she owns it, marching right up to the carousel of paperback books she continually lusts after. The carousel of paperback books I usually never buy, because they’re not real books, I tell her. Not like the picture books proper on the shelf. Commercial tie-ins, I tell her. These books are only toys.

But while Harriet appreciates a good hardback as much as anybody, she is just as devoted to toys, so this argument doesn’t sway her. We buy books from the carousel from time to time, rooting past the Doras (which, thankfully, Harriet has never shown any interest in) and Thomas’s in search of something really good. But this time her attention was caught by a Superman I Can Read book–she is currently very much into Superheros, thanks to The Incredibles and her Daddy’s collection of Spiderman t-shirts. We looked through the Superhero books and I was ecstatic to find Wonder Woman. Harriet leafed through the book and was excited to see an illustration of her carrying a shield. “A shield!” she said. “They have those in How to Train Your Dragon.” There was even a dragon in it, plus the book was $5.

Wonder Woman is iconic in a way that Dora the Explorer will never quite manage to be, plus hers is the ultimate princess story: a princess who didn’t want to be a princess but chose to fight for justice instead. My distaste for commercial tie-ins is fickle. I was happy to buy Harriet that book, and picked up the book I had arrived for: How to Get Along with Women by Elisabeth De Mariaffi. I am also happy because Harriet is now obsessed with Wonder Woman–at 2:30am, Stuart went downstairs to her room and had to ask her to stop “reading” her new books, and go to sleep, please– which means that this morning’s outing will be to our local comic book store in search of a Wonder Woman comic. Two bookstore visits in two days! Harriet has also asked if she could please be Wonder Woman for Halloween, which is the best thing ever. And even better: Harriet asking if might it be more convenient if Wonder Woman fought the forces of evil whilst wearing pants. “Why does she have to wear her underwear?” she wonders, which is a very good question.

But the point of all this is not even books or bookstores, or Wonder Woman. It’s about the joy of walking down the street with my big girl, just the two of us. With all the changes in our lives, what stays constant is that she is excellent company.


4 thoughts on “Going Out With Harriet”

  1. This is simply wonderful. I always enjoy your writing, Kerry.

  2. p.s.

    Harriet is a Wonder Kid with her purple boots. 🙂

  3. Joan says:

    This is beautiful.

  4. Alex says:

    I love this post.

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