January 4, 2011

M-M-M-My Ramona

On New Year's Eve, we gathered the kids around the TV and watched a couple of movies. Owen retired after Shrek Forever After but Mia stayed up to catch the second half of the double feature - Ramona and Beezus.

Now, if you've lived in a cave or are a boy and have never heard of Beverly Cleary's Ramona books, here's what you need to know: they are brilliant, funny novels about an imperfect family and a truly unique little girl that were written long ago but still hold up wonderfully today. Ramona, the middle child, has attitude and spunk and a penchant for being her own unique self.

It should not be a mystery why Mia hearts Ramona so much.

The things I impart to my kids - the things they pick up just because they happen to share genetic material with me and live with me - sometimes give me pause and make me reevaluate who I am, what's important to me and how I act. The other day Owen ran around the house saying dammit and hitting chairs "just like daddy." Mia has managed to pick up my anticipatory anxiety. And maybe its because I've watched too much Hoarders lately but she seems hell-bent on saving absolutely everything.

But on balance I think we're doing alright with Mia simply because of this - she refuses to be anyone but her own person. Mia doesn't like coloring inside the lines because it is no fun. She can, but everyone else does it so why should she? There is no space in her room left untouched - things hang from the ceiling, butterflies adorn the walls, books are everywhere and once a week or so she decides she wants to decorate further, hanging her cheap, plastic jewelry from all the door knobs and wardrobe handles. Over the weekend she decided that she needed her own reminder to wash her hands more frequently so she launched a campaign to design and hang The Flu Is No Fun signs in all our bathrooms. After we tuck her in at night, we invariably hear little footsteps running down the upstairs hall. When we turn in for the night, we find little notes on our pillows. Mia refuses to get caught up in any popular fashion trend. In fact, she came up with this ensemble for school yesterday.


While I wish she'd learn to throw stuff away, clean her room by herself once in a while and stop worrying about stuff that hasn't happened yet, I can't help but feel heartened by the fact that Mia is so unique and that she could care less what other people think of her. Because isn't that what so frequently gets kids into trouble? And adults too, for that matter.

Posted by Chris at January 4, 2011 7:03 AM

I love how kids suddenly become their own people. Good on her for not caring, and not wanting to fit in.

Posted by: Nat at January 4, 2011 7:35 AM

She shows a ton of creativity (which isn't too surprising...) and you are right to allow and cultivate.

Our youngest son refused to color in coloring books "because they were done." So, he would use blank pages and draw his own pictures to color. He is now 13 and still thinks WAY outside the box which can be challenging as a parent but I know when he is an adult this will be great.

Posted by: Debbie at January 4, 2011 7:43 AM

If my memory serves me, Mia has been doing her own thing all along. She wasn't a text book baby, and she has always been her own gal. I absolutely love it! And I know you guys do too. Not only is she beautiful, but she is uniquely herself!

Posted by: Maribeth at January 4, 2011 7:51 AM

Would it be wrong of me to say that I want to be like Mia when I grow up?

It is SO awesome to see how amazing she is Chris!

Posted by: Kellie at January 4, 2011 8:00 AM

You're an awesome dad.

Posted by: NG at January 4, 2011 8:36 AM

We'll see how you feel about this in 10 years when her uniqueness extends to her choice of boyfriends ;)

Posted by: COD at January 4, 2011 9:00 AM


When my husband and I showed up for conferences, my 6-year-old's math teacher said, "Oh! I half expected you to show up in rainbow-striped leggings, a flowered shirt, and a bright pink skirt."

Kids who aren't afraid to be themselves get noticed in a good way.

Posted by: Julie at January 4, 2011 9:13 AM

I LOVE Ramona -- always have -- and I went to see the movie on opening day and CRIED because I connected so much with the stories as a kid and still today.

Glad you have your own little Ramona making her way in the world on her terms.

Posted by: Sandy at January 4, 2011 9:41 AM

Love that Mia makes her own fashion choices. Hated that I was in a uniform for school most of my childhood. Love that you let her be her own person!!

You are raising a strong, vibrant woman in Mia and I commend you for letting her flourish in her own way!!

Never read Ramona...and I don't have kids, so not reading them now either.

Posted by: Krush at January 4, 2011 9:59 AM

Mia looks like Beth! :) Her ensemble matches just fine, I think.

Oh the Ramona books... I remember those, now that you mention it. They *were* good. Hmm I might have to pick one up.

Yay for coloring outside the lines... we have lots of drawing going on in my home too, which isn't too surprising since my apartment is quite literally covered in oil paint. If kids are around a creative environment they are naturally strong creatives themselves.

Posted by: jessica at January 4, 2011 10:08 AM

My 11-year-old, who read Ramona books before she fell headlong into the world of J.K. Rowling, insisted (last month) on having shiny red rain boots, just like the ones Ramona wore when wading into the muddy vacant lot from which Henry Huggins had to rescue her (and her boots).

My daughter is more unconventional than I am, but less so than Mia. It brings me joy when she chooses a fancy Christmas dress for school, adds a tie for spirit day, and sneakers. Not a choice I would make, but I love that she is secure enough to wear it.

Posted by: Brooke at January 4, 2011 11:36 AM

I hope it sticks.

Posted by: Heather at January 4, 2011 12:04 PM

And her character continues to develop under your amazing watchful eye.

Posted by: k8 at January 4, 2011 12:04 PM

Mia Rules. And I loved the Ramona books, too. Aaaand also, I was babysitting yesterday and the 3yo kept saying "dammit" so I had to keep putting him in time out and then his Dad got home and asked if work had called for him (to offer an extra shift) and when I said no, he said "Dammit!" and I gave him "the look" haha. Then I told his wife and we both rolled our eyes, because we are mean like that.

Posted by: Heather at January 4, 2011 2:48 PM

LOVED the title of this post!!

Posted by: niki at January 4, 2011 5:03 PM

So nice to be reminded of letting our kids turn into their own people. My Owen is his own person (now 8 1/2 - where did the time go?), but I still cringe at the things he does and the ways he thinks that I know are from me - and aren't necessarily the best parts. But I also want my boy to grow up to like himself for who he is. Thanks for reminding me.

Posted by: Sharri at January 4, 2011 7:28 PM

Mia, you go girl! Don't ever change.

Chris, you've got yourself a fabulous family. Don't ever let them go!

And I still love Ramona (and Beezus too!) - I think of the books every time I drive down the Florida Turnpike because of the silly SunPass signs they have installed (a la the Burma Shave signs the family passes on the way to Mt Hood in one of the Ramona books!)

Posted by: Melissa at January 4, 2011 9:13 PM

I have always loved that Mia has always had a great sense of who she is.

Posted by: One Mom's Opinion at January 4, 2011 11:23 PM

Celebrate it now Chris b/c as some others have metioned the teen years are not always fun for the parents of free thinkers. I have an almost 16 y/o son who I was always proud was his own person and spoke up for himself. I appreicate it teachers in Jr High not so much(several trips to the office). High school has been a little better though.

Posted by: Elizabeth at January 5, 2011 9:19 AM

It's great parents who allow their children be who they are meant to be. Not always easy!


Posted by: cassie-b at January 6, 2011 1:51 PM

She is a little doll. If I didn't live across the country I'd totally volunteer to babysit.

Posted by: Dianna at January 6, 2011 6:49 PM

I love her outfit! And Ramona books rock, too.

Posted by: Karen at January 11, 2011 9:53 PM

The BFF dresses like that ALL THE TIME. And when I showed her the picture, she was like "I NEED THAT OUTFIT".

We rented Ramona and Beezus over the holidays and *loved* it. We both grew up reading the books - in fact, I reread them all a few years ago - so it was nice to see it turn into such a nice movie.

Also, hi. :)

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at January 21, 2011 6:27 PM