A Little More About #4

Don't be fooled.

My current favorites: #4 and Casey.

To anyone reading this who lives in my house: I am fickle regarding my favorites, and easily bought off with brownies. Homemade, no icing.

We’re coming up on #4’s fifth grade promotion. She started first grade when the kids came to live with us, so she’s the only one who has completed all grades (minus kindergarten) in the same elementary school.

I remember dropping her off at the school’s blacktop those first few weeks. I held #5 in my arms, watching while #3 and #2 ran off to their brand-new friends, but #4 lined up for class and just stood there crying without sound. It ripped my heart out and I couldn’t fix it. It lasted a few weeks; she quickly became our most social kid, much more interested in hanging out with her friends than in anything related to school, or responsibility.

She often balks at doing her chores when there’s a babysitter on. One night when she was in first grade, the sitter gave her the option: she could either do her chores or go to bed early. As in right now: two full hours before bedtime.

#4 gladly opted to go to bed.

In second grade, her class was assigned a biography project. It was supposed to be a big (relative to the second grade) research thing, culminating in a posterboard and a presentation where each student dressed as their subject. #4’s subject was Hillary Clinton, revealing a deep, subconscious need to piss her father off.

We didn’t know anything about the project, despite all of the notices regarding deadlines that were apparently sent home with her. Our first awareness of it came when we received a call from her teacher.

Teacher: The deadline for the biography project is rapidly approaching and she hasn’t turned in any of her materials.

Us: Uh, what biography project?

We had a talk with her that night. Found out she hadn’t even read the book yet. We asked her why she hadn’t done any of the work, why she hid the project from us.

#4: I didn’t feel like doing it.

Discounting her lies of omission, she is probably our most honest kid.

In the morning she doesn’t want to get up, is slow to get moving, can’t find anything to wear because it’s all wadded up on the floor of her closet or else in her bed, and finds any number of distractions as she is supposedly getting ready for school, many of which end with her forgetting homework or some other essential item for school, like pants. This is only on school mornings. Weekends she’s up before 7am. Yet as much as she complains about school, she practically runs there every day.

She can’t have nice things.  She desperately wanted Uggs for about two years, not hung up on the name but fixated instead on how very comfy they are. Uggs are stupidly expensive, so I got her a slightly less expensive knockoff for Christmas in her favorite color. She was in love. But before Christmas vacation was over, she had projectile vomited on their lovely, untreated purple suede. From the top bunk.

She loses her shoes. What I mean by this is she will lose one of a pair, permanently, and this has happened more than once.

Any new pants she gets are immediately ripped; new shirts are instantly stained.

#3 got a pink Abercrombie sweatshirt once that she literally loved to pieces. Finally, it was so torn and stained that we had to throw it away.

#4 showed up wearing it a week later, expressing her belief that anything in the trash is fair game, and everything is appropriate to wear to school.

CC has said to her at the dinner table on numerous occasions, “You look homeless.”

Here’s the thing: In nearly every way, #4 is exactly like me. Exactly. I was like that as a kid and I haven’t changed all that much. How is it possible that this child, who shares none of my genes, has all of my train wreck characteristics? She didn’t learn them from me, she came with them. When we met, that chaotic, disorganized part of my soul that hates following through on anything and has a hard time finding a matching pair of socks looked out at her in recognition and said, Oh, hey! There’s two of us? Oh, dear. 

#4 was being given a hard time at dinner tonight by #3 because she lost a headband that was loaned to her. Her defense?

#4: Don’t loan me things. It ends bad. (Looks up from plate) What? I speak the truth.

I know, sweetie. I know.

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32 thoughts on “A Little More About #4

  1. This sounds exactly like my oldest girl. She’s a mess. No other way to say it. She never has her homework, never thinks of combing her hair, and never knows where her clothes are. From day 1 of kindergarten, she’s come home clothes stained, hair in a rat’s nest, and without any papers (left in her desk, on the bus, or in a ditch.)
    My world wouldn’t be the same without her. Thank God for train-wreck girls!

  2. She sounds like my youngest. But I’m not like him at all and it drives me crazy that he’s this way. I’m going to rethink it now though….thanks.

    1. I can only imagine how it must make you nuts. He totally can’t help it. There’s hope for him as an adult! But I place a big value on attempting to confine her mess to her bedroom, or at least rooms I don’t go in, and shutting the door.

  3. This made me smile and think back to when I was younger. My sister once threw-up on a pair of my prized leather slippers, from the top bunk. They were ruined. I still tease her that she owes me a new pair. #4 reminds me of my sister, who is very creative to make up for the lack of organization. She has a great job as a writer, so there’s hope 😉

  4. She is adorable and from that mischievous grin and the spark in her eye, I can tell she is, as my grandmother would say, a “firecracker.” Sounds a lot like my youngest step-daughter. Being the more organized person that I am and coming to the marriage with one of the most low-key kids around, I did not know what to do with such a creature, as my Erica. All my struggles with her have been, in part, because of my efforts to get her to be more organized with her clothes, homework, and oh-my-God-the-eyeglasses! It’s so wonderful for both of you that you can love her up just the way she is.

    1. A firecracker- absolutely! Love that. I love her the way she is in part because I’m not capable of trying to help her be more organized, and that’s the sad, sad truth! She’s the only one of the five who doesn’t wear eyeglasses; that’s a lifesaver.

  5. Oh my. OH MY! I wonder which of our four is going to be like this? LOL. It seems from reading the comments every family has one.

    How do kids lose A shoe? A pair I could understand….. I remember my eldest daughter leaving her tenor sax on a tram once – LUCKILY we got it back. Those suckers are not cheap.

  6. This made me cry:
    #4 lined up for class and just stood there crying without sound.
    It’s the ‘without sound’ part. heartbreaking.
    Also, I want to know how #4 feels about younger men. I think my son may be her soulmate.

  7. haha, nice. Makes me think of my days as a kid at her age, being a “trainwreck” in the classroom, not doing homework, not caring about fashion, room a terrible mess. That still hasn’t changed! This makes me look forward to the day I have kids, I have to say you have my favorite parenting blog…. you look at them as people with their own character you can appreciate, not just some kid you smother with love and have to protect to the death. It’s a nice change of pace from all the rest. And what a cute picture!!

  8. Sounds like you’re all describing ADD- bad mornings are a result of a brain that will not shut down completely for sleep – these kids are twisted up in their covers in the morning, pillows all over the floor. Missing shoes, homework undone… it’s slow electrical activity in the brains frontal lobe, which is why they use stimulants to speed it up, and the recticular activating system, which is too slow, allows huge streams of stimuli and information in, in abberantchunks, which overwhelms the capacity to process and plan in the way some others might. When a stimulant speeds the opening and closure of this valve into a steady stream, information is processed more smoothly. And the brain literally functions differently. But B Vitamins (like B6) are in a sense stimulants also, vs. Ritalin or methlphenidates. Fish Oil is also supposed to be of some assistance to this area of the brain. As well as Theonine, a natural supplement. All things worth researching further for these kids. Artificial anything is BAD, such as dyes and flavors. Organic foods a must, as recent studies showed the DDT on plant foods, which damages pests through neurological destruction, is also poisoning kids brain functions with excessive ADHD. Really!

    The “sparkle” in the eye is common amond ADD’ers, even in adulthood- many move towards careers in showbiz, entertainment, and sales, jobs which offer breaks from routines which cause boredom and inattention. This brain type needs to constantly be jerked to attention with new interests to keep any focus at all. Creative, social, talkative, holders of information. Perhaps dramatic. and sadly, we ADD’ers suffer nationally from billions of lost income dollars annually, due to connective problems with this brain function difference.

    TMI? So what. I like to talk too much, I still sleep lousy, I have multiple interests and my bedroom’s still a mess. PHLLLLLllllLLLL*** (major raspberries to all)

    1. It’s something we’ve gone back & forth on, but haven’t gotten her tested by a specialist yet. All her teachers & one social worker say it isn’t. We keep talking about it. But mostly, I’m afraid of the drugs.

      You forgot at the end that you write a hilarious blog 🙂

  9. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but Mary Kate Olsen (of the Olsen Twins fame) popularized the “homeless” look several years ago. #4 may be the best-dressed kid in your household, and you just didn’t know it.

  10. I love that CC tells her she looks homeless. My own mother used to call me a hobo, back in the days of ‘Grunge.’

    My oldest daughter, who is the product of my first marriage, is EXACTLY like my 2nd husband. They are both insanely clumsy, have the same sense of humor, can’t focus on a conversation to save their lives, and leave a path of destruction in their wake. I love that they have these things in common… it gives them a special bond, and they understand each other in ways that I don’t understand either of them.

    As always, I love reading all about your kiddos… You guys are all amazing!

  11. I’m not sure I fall in the “train wreck” category…but my grandparents just told me that they thought I was a complete “airhead” as a child. Apparently everyone in the family worried about me and my lack of intelligence. They are now more than proud that I found myself a lovely, highly intelligent husband and somehow managed to get a job (to boot, it’s one that they can brag about to their friends). What they don’t realize is that I’m still a complete airhead. I fully support train wrecks and airheads alike. Especially those who know who they are and figure out how to live their lives just as well as anyone else. You go, #4!

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