So it’s Presley’s birthday. She is 8. Today. I have an 8 year old. I can hardly believe it. A couple weeks back when I wrote the post about her I sat her down on the couch after finishing it and said “Hey so…I wrote a post about you for Riley’s blog?” A stunned “About ME?” Was her response. I dropped my head because that response confirmed my fears…she was surprised she was being seen. “Yes baby, about you…can I read it to you and then you can tell me if you’re okay with me posting it? I won’t if you’re not, okay?” Her face settled into a shy smile and she nodded curling up next to me.
I’ve said time and time again I don’t often read what I write, hell I barely proof read and edit which I’m sure as readers you’ve picked up on with the overabundance of curse words and typos. The content was heavy and I didn’t realize how heavy until I was reading it aloud to my subject…my Presley. My voice cracked in all the parts that likely made y’all cry, she moved closer to me with each paragraph shifting her gaze from following along with the words and stealing glances of my face. She let out a shocked “MOMMMMM!” when the words “fucking champion” came out of my mouth to describe her…”Whoops sorry kiddo, I know I know…but I mean…you WERE” She got emotional too…she sat up taller during the bits about Riley being so broken up and terrified seeing her come out on the stretcher…it was like an automatic reaction to be brave at the mention of her sisters pain. A task she has taken on for Riley’s entire life. She laughed too…a lot…partly because of my use of inappropriate language but also because like me our lives sometimes are so unbelievably bizarre that all you can do is laugh.
I finished reading and said “So?…what do you think?…Can I share it?” Her face was glowing as she nodded her head yes and her shy smile transformed into a full grin. She was proud of herself. I often don’t know how I feel about a thing until I write it…that day I also learned I don’t know how I REALLY feel about a thing until I read it aloud. Clacking my fingers across these keys is therapy for me…reading those words to her was therapy for us both. So today on her birthday…therapy session round 2. Writing now, reading to her later.
At the end of the post I mentioned Presley’s involvement with The Mark Makers and even shared the images that she shot and processed. When asked what she wanted for her birthday this year her immediate response was “A camera exactly like Moms”…naturally she wants work equipment for her birthday, totes normal. Her jaw dropped at the price tag and her wishes turned to her more reasonably priced desires such as desk supplies and a lamp. I’m not kidding. And yes, she’s 8. Her interest is not limited to the photography aspect…she’s all in. As I said she asks a million questions…I always answer but half the time figure she tunes me out as many of the details of running a nonprofit are painstakingly boring. I learned a couple weeks ago that she absorbs it all. I went to pick her up from her grandparents and with a cheeky grin said “Mom I’ve got a surprise for you.”
She bounded over with a stack of cash and slapped it down in front of me.
“What’s this kiddo?”
“It’s my donation for The Mark Makers.”
“I emptied my piggy bank and rolled my change and Grammy took it to the bank and this is how much I’ve got $128…oh and it was all my tooth fairy money too.”
I was floored. What kid donates their entire piggy bank AND their freakin’ glitter covered tooth fairy money?! I explained to her that she DID NOT need to donate any or all of her money but she was insistent. “Seriously Pres, I am so proud of you and this is amazing…how about you keep some for yourself though, ok?” She reached over grabbed a crisp 5 dollar bill and said “Ok, fine…but the rest is The Mark Makers” While the fact the she did this at all made me beam with pride the idea she approached me with a few days later left me speechless.
“Hey Mom? You know that money I donated?”
“Well remember that day you were signing up for the matching thing?” (she was referring to an Employee Matching program that I signed up for so that employers will match their employees charitable contributions…you know one of those questions that I answered that I figured went right over her head)
“Well…since I work for The Mark Makers and that’s who I donated to it doesn’t make sense for them to match it but do you think other people would?…Like I bet I could ask Mark (our friend/neighbor) and he would…or maybe like…if you wrote about it on Facebook somebody else would too.”
I. Was. Speechless. Like for real.
She broke the silence…“Mom?…whadya think?”
“I think that you are brilliant Presley…I think that you are absolutely brilliant”
I told my Mom the story and she was the first to match her donation and honestly the look of pride on Presley’s face when she was handed that check was just….gahhhhhh…so cool. She stared at it and then confidently handed it over to me…”Here ya go Mom…for deposit.” This. Kid.
The complexities of the whole thing…the fact that she really listens, absorbs, crafts plans and then finds ways to implement her ideas. I mean. Good Gawd. So here I am…on her birthday…telling this story and making the request on her behalf.
Let’s see how many $123 donations we can get so Miss Presley can really rub in my face how much better she is at running the show. 😉
*Donations can be made through the Facebook Fundraiser, on The Mark Makers website or via check. Donors…please send an email to email@example.com with your name and address so Presley can mail you a “Thank You” card…I know she will be very insistent on this. 🙂
And some Presley throwback favorites because…WHERE did my little girl go?!?!?!