Here’s the second installment of my ‘Letter to redlipstickgirl’ series (you can read the first letter here) which is me talking to my younger self. A tad indulgent, I know but so much fun to revisit my childhood memories. This post was triggered by my daughter, P.
P has a bag for her ‘stuff’. Her stuff is things she takes everywhere and preciously keeps away from her thief brothers. She puts her bag by her bed when she goes to sleep, hangs it on the bathroom’s door knob when when she goes for a pee, or hides it under the stroller when out and about. I do empathize with her pathological need to have her very own possessions. You get like this when you have close in age siblings. I myself still get irrationally territorial with things like hair and shoes. I don’t like it when my sisters cut their hair short because it is my thing; I am the one with the short crop and with the sole right to look like a Thai ladyboy when not wearing any makeup. And I don’t like to lend my shoes; my bras, panties, jeans are all green lighted items but my shoes are a NO-NO. Luckily for me I have big feet for my height which not only allows me to keep my balance when tipsy but also prevents sisters who shop in the children shoe section from borrowing my leather boots.
Anyway, the contents of P’s bag vary with some regulars like lip balms. But mainly her stuff according to her is divided into things she needs now and things she keeps for when she is older (‘pour quand je serai grande’). I do oversee what is in her ‘Older P’ bag partly because I am worried about what message I convey to her about women and partly because I don’t trust her to wait to consume… I thus said yes to candies and perfume but said No to red lipstick and chewing gums. I wonder whether I have the right attitude about all this and should instead let her construct her own views of her adult self. One thing I know is that I would like to say less often things like ‘You’ll have this or be allowed to do that when you grow up’. The more I have been saying it and the less this actually makes sense. I am still pondering about why it feels off and will resume this train of thoughts in a later post.
Meanwhile P’s bag inspired me to write this letter about the things I cherished.
you got very upset last Christmas when a mistake in the Christmas catalogue order landed you with not a Chrystal Barbie doll but a pink bathtub. You are pissed off that your parents would not buy a doll to make up for their mistake. They say that you have used up your Christmas gift allowance. You are embarrassed when the school organizes ‘bring your Christmas gift’ play sessions. Your classmates all ‘mate with each other’ through their brand new Kens and Barbies. And you are standing there like an idiot with your stupid pink bathtub and no doll wants to take a bath. At least you have something to show off unlike your classmate S. who doesn’t have shit because her folks did not celebrate Christmas. You then get mad at your teacher; this post Christmas play session is such a moronic idea.
Well, young lady, let me tell you that the bathtub story will make many people laugh to tears during dinner parties in your adulthood. You will keep laughing about it, in fact. I have forgotten all the dolls I ever had but never forgot the bathtub that I have kept for many years to come. Because eventually Barbies do need a bath. Always. Besides you will use one day the metaphor of the bathtub to define yourself and write: ‘Like a Mattel bathtub, I am not the shiniest toy in town but I am reliable, sturdy and I matter’. Hope this can be a consolation to you.
Another thing that you are treasuring but will keep it a secret is your illustrated dictionary for children. You often have it by your side. Your dad is proud; he tells everyone that you are a smart one and that the only things that interest you are books. You do like words but I know the main reason you like your dictionary is how polyvalent it is. It can be a bed, a minivan, a screen for your Barbie doll (that you will end up having the year after the bathtub fiasco) to change clothes etc. The pages illustrating different landscapes or rooms in a house are limitless decor sets for your Barbie. It only costs $3 and can be easily stored on your desk.
You have no idea how your dictionary is inspiring to me these days when I start wondering if I should buy any toys for my kids. See, I almost never buy them anything because they get pretty spoiled by other people. Sometimes I feel a tad guilty about it but remembering you play pretend to fry eggs in front of page 54 (aka the page on the kitchen appliances and utensils) helps me hold a firm stance on this.
There is also this other thing that you stole from a mall during your ‘I am such a rebel little thing’ period: a box of colored plastic elastic bands. You don’t even know why you stole it: for the trill, because you liked the colors, because it was so unneeded that you really had to have it. Not sure but it became your the reminder that you could be a badass delinquent from La Banlieue but chose not to. The truth is that a month after your elastic bands theft, you will get caught by security guards trying to steal oversized bras and baby socks… This episode will cure your kleptomania for life. Yep, the security guards will hardly have the time to scold you because they will have to reanimate your mom with salts. She will faint and drop on the floor like a dead fly. She will not believe her own eyes that her goody two-shoes girl is a thief…Yep treasure your cheap elastic bands because they are the last thing you will ever steal.
NB: you will actually steal something else in your 20s: beer glasses from English pubs. Not very classy. If you can try to control yourself, it would be nice. They are really a pain in the ass to pack and move from a city to another.
P and her bag