Suddenly, everything was clear.
My daughter and I had spent the day together, going to the movies, coloring Disney pictures, riding the carousel. We'd sat at the lunch counter, sipped shakes, crooned along to '50s doo-wop. It had been the perfect day.
When I asked my daughter what her favorite part was, she thought for a moment and answered, "The popcorn at the movie and the shake at lunch."
I couldn't argue. Those were my favorite parts, too.
The fact is, with her eyes aglow, dreaming of chocolate sucked through a straw, my daughter kind of reminded me of, well, me. At that moment, I was reminded of that anti-drug commercial from the '80s, where Young-Headphone-Wearing-Punk is confronted by Heavily-Mustached-Dad about his drug use. Cornered, the boy defiantly cries out, "I learned it by watching you!"
The lesson? Moms who fantasize about Godiva have kids who prefer popcorn to the plot of Annie.
Indeed, for better or for worse, my daughter has adopted several behaviors from me. Here are five of the ways my daughter is slowly turning into her mom.
1. A flair for drama. Whether she's insisting that we just don't understand her or feigning tears over being declared a "rotten egg" when she's the last one out the door, my daughter is nothing if not dramatic. I wonder where she gets it?, asks the woman who's given so many tear-filled performances, Days of Our Lives is requesting a cameo. Apparently, all the world's a stage... starting with our apartment.
2. A need for screen. Given the choice between hanging out with Mommy or playing "Nail Salon" on grandpa's iPad, my daughter will choose the iPad every time. We don't have tablets at home, so when we go to Papa and Granny's house, the iPad possesses her like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. All attempts at conversation are lost as she flings angry birds and manicures digital fingernails. Unfortunately, this is probably something she gets from her crazy, iPhone-addicted mom. I'm thinking we could both benefit from spending some time around real birds instead of angry ones.
3. An obsession with sweets. As mentioned, my daughter and I share a love for the sweeter things in life. There are very few highjinks I can't immediately end with the threat "Stop it, or you're going to lose your treat privileges." Jumping on the couch? Check. Plastic sword fight with Little Brother? Check. That magic trick where she makes Mommy's brand-new bracelet disappear... onto her wrist? Even that's no match for my treat threat. When it comes to sweets, she shares my one-track mind. At least all that jumping and jousting will burn some sugar.
4. An appreciation of hobbits and Hogwarts. Surprisingly, this child who once ran out of the room in tears over an episode of Care Bears has no fear of orcs or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Nothing makes my Frodo-loving heart melt like my baby asking if we can watch The Fellowship of the Ring yet again. I like to think of myself as her Gandalf, guiding her past life's many ring-wraiths and goblins, as she attempts to fulfill her destiny and stop the forces of evil. Yeah, I have no idea where she gets this one from.
5. A love of letters. I mean this literally. My daughter enjoys writing down any letters that come to mind, regardless of what they spell. I like to see this as a precursor to writing real words and sentences -- and, down the line, maybe even self-deprecating blog posts about the absurdities of modern parenting. Of all my habits, writing is one I don't mind passing along -- even if one day my daughter pens a novel about her melodramatic mother's obsession with wizards and chocolate. I'm pretty sure I'll understand.
No, my daughter probably won't need rehab to rid herself of the habits she's picked up from Mommy. Still, I'm going to try harder to remember that she's watching -- and to set the best example I can. After all, having a child is a bit like looking in a mirror. It's nice to like what you see reflected back at you.