When our daughter Kerri was born on Halloween in the 70s (I will not reveal her age as she may still be trying to pass for 30), my husband Dick and I were overjoyed and called her "our little miracle." After 2 miscarriages and surgery to remove a tumor we thought the chances of having a baby were small, but God is good and He answered our prayers. We gave her the nickname “Angel” for the first few years of her life because she was our angel from God.
To say she was a precocious little girl is an understatement because when she started talking before she could walk (she was a little slow in that department and didn’t walk until she was 15 months--not that she couldn’t, she just thought it was more fun to crawl or be carried around) she began repeating the jokes that her dad taught her. We all knew he was living out his repressed dreams of being a comedian through his little girl. Don’t all parents do that to some extent? Kerri was born to be a performer and loved to tell anyone who would listen about the “man who hadn’t had a bite in a week, so she bit him”. Or “why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side”. Not to be outdone I taught her to say “The Lord’s Prayer” and her Alabama grandmother would carry her (remember she couldn’t walk) around her whole office building and have her repeat “The Lord’s Prayer” to everyone no matter what their religion. Of course everyone made a fuss over a 14 month old saying “the Lord’s Prayer” and telling jokes. Her grandmother just beamed as grandmothers are supposed to do. Who knows--maybe there were some conversions to Christianity and the Bible says we are to go into all the world and spread the gospel. Contrary to what some people think, Alabama is part of the world.
Well, as Kerri got a little older and was now running instead of walking (she skipped that step), we began to drop the nickname "Angel." We just didn’t think that angels went in the bathroom right before we were hosting a party for Dick’s boss and poured Ajax all over the floor. Have you ever tried to wipe up a box of Ajax off the floor while preparing a supposedly gourmet meal to impress the boss and his wife? I can’t say that I wasn’t upset with Kerri because I was, but I was also berating myself for not having childproof latches (that worked) on the bathroom cabinets. I had to admire her ability to figure out how to open the doors and take out the worst possible thing to pour on the floor that would take the longest time to clean up. I should have suspected then that that would be the start of trying to figure out how to stay ahead of a child with a creative mind who was always into things and doing things that kept two very astute parents on their toes.
Her next trick was to take my electric wand that was used to warm up a cup of coffee or tea. Those of you in my generation before the microwave may remember those ingenious gadgets. You plugged it in and put an electric grid down in the cup and it immediately heated your drink. Well I guess Kerri had seen me use it because one day while I was busy doing who know what a mother does, she went into a drawer in the kitchen and got the warmer and took it into a corner in the living room. There she proceeded to plug it into the wall and drop it on the white carpet. I smelled something burning and ran into the living room to find Kerri standing there looking at a big hole slowing forming in the carpet with smoke rising up in the air. I was mad, horrified that she could have been seriously hurt, and thankful to God that she was okay. My big dilemma at that point was how to discipline a two year old and explain to her what a dangerous thing she had done. I tried as any mother would to make her understand that what she had done was wrong and she could have been hurt, but by the sweet smiling expression on her face I’m sure I didn’t succeed. That was an expensive adventure as we had to replace a large section of the carpet.
When Kerri was 2 ½ I decided to enroll her in a ballet class because I knew early on that she needed to be occupied or she would be getting into trouble. The local community center had a dance class, so I took her down and sat with all the other “stage” mothers while the girls went downstairs to the class. After the 30 minutes were over, all the little girls ran up the stairs to their mothers and Kerri acted like she was glad to see me as well. Shortly afterward the teacher came over to me and said “Dorothy” did very well today. I replied that she must have the wrong little girl as my daughter’s name was Kerri. She looked right at Kerri and said ‘she told me her name was Dorothy”. The backstory to that is that Kerri had seen Dorothy Hamill, the Olympic ice skater on TV and decided she wanted her name to be Dorothy so every time someone in a store or where ever asked her name she would say Dorothy and I would have to explain that her name was Kerri. I never dreamed that she would tell a dance teacher her name was Dorothy, but she did and she told me she wanted to be called Dorothy. I knew that children had imaginary friends but did not realize that they wanted to be famous people at that early age. Should that have been a sign of things to come?
~ Barbara Pomarolli