When Clare was born, Kraig and I had two first names we were playing with. Within a minute of seeing her, we went with the one that means "brilliant light" (Clare is her nickname). There is something in a name, and Clare has shown hers to be more than accurate. "Lightning bolt" might have been even more appropriate.
She can seem so innocent and winsome if you are observing her in repose. This happens more often nowadays because she's perfectly happy to get lost in a book for hours on end. However, if the book is shut, beware. The winsomeness is only appearance deep. Interacting with Clare can be like wrestling the edge of a hurricane.
Today the book was set aside (except for when we were driving) and the tongue ran free. With Clare, there are no quiet times unless she has her nose in a book. She is constant chatter and motion. Most homework sessions take three times as long as they should because they're spent constantly herding her back to work. I like it when I don't have to herd her and can let her loose, because I love to hear her talk, and to hear her questions and ideas.
We didn't have far to go today. Clare's great goal was to get to the Wal-Mart that just opened up down the street last week. She's had her eye on and has been saving toward a Barbie kid that she saw at another Wal-Mart and she wanted to see if it was at this one. We were also looking for a notebook for an online writing class that she's starting next week. So we started off at home with some lunch: leftovers of her favorite white chicken chili.
Then we headed down the road, entertained on the way by the pig in the back of the pick-up truck in front of us.
Once we got to Wal-Mart we headed straight for the stationery aisle. We spent quite a few minutes there, because it's one of our favorite places. Clare found a binder and paper to create her notebook, and I tracked down some of the materials I needed for a family project.
We headed over to the toys and scoped out the Barbies. There were no kid ones, but no matter, LEGO was in the next aisle over, and one can never get tired of that. Clare eschewed the LEGO Friends--too pink and purple--but she set her sights on some of the Creator sets.
We weren't rushed, so we were able to explore more of the store and then ran to another stationery store to find some poster board. Clare expressed her definite opinions on all sorts of things she saw. She knows what she likes and doesn't like. The trick is helping her understand the difference between opinion and fact, and the importance of phrasing opinions (or facts, for that matter) gently.
The outing was rounded off with checking out a new ice cream shop near the kids' school. We both got double-cones, which were delicious but huge. I think we'll all have to go there again sometime, but Clare and I agreed a single scoop would be plenty.
Clare stated that her cone looked like it had a deep moat surrounding a fortress. She also said that she wished she had two tongues, so that when one got too cold she could use the other to lick. "But then," she said, "I'd speak double." I am thankful she only has one tongue....
Ice cream cones are perfect for leisurely conversation and so I probed a bit, asking how school was going. Apparently it's fine. I asked her why she thought we were here in Mexico, and what she thought about all of it. Clare's probably had the roughest time with the transition. She's inclined to see the worst in things--it's a constant battle to get her to not complain. This is a huge topic, though, and not easy for her to express in words for all the vocabulary she's internalized with all of the books she's read. I asked her toward the end of our time if she talked to God about some of this stuff, and asked how she interacted with Him. She's always had amazing insights about God and the Bible, but so often it seems more cerebral than heart. When I asked her this today she didn't answer, and I decided not to press it. After all, I don't know if I could have put that into words when I was her age. Once her cone was finished we went into the store restroom to wash our hands. And then she said, as if there hadn't been a hiatus, "I think when I have a problem I speak to a grown-up. But when I'm afraid, I talk to Him."
And that is my Clare all over.