For a long time now, it’s been clear that Elsa is a bit messier than Clio when it comes to playing and eating and life in general. These shots taken back in December at the girls’ second birthday pretty much sum it up. (Photos taken seconds apart.)
Exhibit A: Clio and cupcake
Exhibit B: Elsa and (no more) cupcake.
But lately, it seems, Clio is not just casually more careful when it comes to getting messy. She’s actually becoming something of a neat freak. After taking a few bites out of something or a sip of her milk or water, she’ll often try to hand it back to us and demand a “clean” one. (Needless to say, we do not generally accommodate these requests.) Yesterday, I took the girls to a birthday party in our neighbors’ back yard (more birthday parties! These girls are in heaven!) and as usual, Elsa devoured her cake and ice cream (plus some of Clio’s) with sloppy gusto. But Clio was so put off by the messiness of the whole endeavor, she barely touched hers — and this is not a child who usually refuses sweets. She had me cut off all the frosting (not an unreasonable request) but then kept asking me to wipe off her hands and face as she ate, saying over and over again, “I need another nap-kin!”
There was also a wading pool at this party. The girls came prepared, with bathing suits on under their sundresses. Other little kids, however, were going into the water in their clothes. Elsa was happy to follow suit (or dress, I should say; ha ha) and wade around and get the bottom of her dress soaked. Since we were two houses away from our own, it was fine with me. Clio stepped into the water in her dress, too, but quickly realized that she’d made a grave error and poutily asked me to lift her back out. She was very upset that she’d gotten water on her dress, and started saying she wanted to go inside, go home, etc. I suggested that we take off the offending wet dress instead, and she could hang out in her dry, *clean* bathing suit. She liked that. (Meanwhile, Elsa was over at the wading pool helping a tattooed twentysomething fill water balloons.)
This may be a phase. But if nothing else, it is more evidence that Clio takes after her father in more things and Elsa takes more after me. Not that I am a slob, by any stretch. Actually, Alastair and I are both fairly neat people in general. But that said, Alastair does tend to have a lower threshold for disorder. You should see the way he folds his T-shirts. And how annoyed he gets at me when I leave apple cores or banana peels in the cupholders in the car by mistake. (Confession: sometimes I leave them there on purpose, just to mess with him.)
It will be interesting to see how the girls’ attitudes in this department develop over time — especially if they continue to share a room, which is the plan for the immediate future. I can totally see it being like a sitcom episode at some point: the line of tape or string down the middle of the room, with Elsa’s happy mess on one side and Clio’s ordered world on the other.
In fact, the conversation I had Elsa — our budding poet — the other day makes a lot more sense now that I think of it in light of all this. She said to me, apropos of nothing, “Clio is a doughnut.” To which I replied, “She’s a doughnut? What are you?” Elsa said, “I’m a peanut butter sandwich.” Makes sense, doesn’t it? A doughnut (a plain one, anyway) is sort of neat and self-contained and symmetrical, while a peanut butter sandwich is generally a pretty messy, chaotic affair — At least, the way I make them.
All right. Maybe that’s a stretch.
Our little Felix Unger keeps it clean.
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