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My baby is almost one and a half. She is my only daughter, and I feel an allegiance to her in this house full of boys. I am torn between wanting her to stay small and wishing she would hurry up and get big so we can start having some real fun (no disrespect, ring-around-the-rosie). I have elaborate daydreams of afternoons spent leisurely window shopping together with cups of hot chocolate, and girls’ nights out where we see movies in which there is no blood or dead bodies. These fantasies make it imperative that she grow up to be someone who I really like to be with; someone who is talented, freethinking, kind, enthusiastic, and intelligent. So as we go about our day I often check her progress against this weighty list.

During breakfast I note that she is distinctively challenged when it comes to eating yogurt with any semblance of neatness. Is this a problem for my future best friend? Can I manage with a BFF who can’t be seen eating in public? You know what? I can. I am that flexible and forgiving. Not to mention some of her yogurt finger paintings clearly showed influence of early Matisse. Talent? Check!
But things get a little hairy later when I notice that while she is adept at locating her eyes and nose, her ears remain a bit of a mystery. Her inability to find her ears might prove a sticking point in our relationship. Without exception my best friends all know where their ears are. This cannot be a coincidence. Facial awareness is a key quality I look for in a friend.

So I am worried that she consistently points to her knees when asked to locate her ears. But then it hits me – she has intuited that the body’s energies are fluid and flowing, and in some esoteric, abstract realm the ear obviously corresponds to the knee! My daughter/soul sister will be an acupuncturist. I am thrilled. Freethinking? Check!

During our mother-daughter book club the two of us discuss the perennial classic ‘Barney on the Farm’. (I find the dialogue to be unconvincing and I do not appreciate the author’s use of foreshadowing. The pages don’t even taste that good. Thumbs down.) No matter how I cajole, my daughter will not moo like a cow. This is problematic – can I admire a young woman who refuses to mimic the sound attributed to the bovine species? I’m not sure. But then, through a series of complicated gestures and mumbles, she intimates that cows do not in fact say moo. They make an intricate utterance that is unable to be replicated by human vocal chords. She implies that it would be wrong to reduce the cow to a stereotype that suggests human superiority due to the possession of an evolved larynx. I agree with her completely. She is thoughtful and kind (check), just the type of cow-loving soul that I will be proud to call my friend.

Our literary discussion is followed by naptime and then a snack. I sit my best girl in her chair and hand her a cookie. She gobbles it with gusto (enthusiastic? Check!), and implores me for another. I comply, absentmindedly breaking off a piece for myself. Suddenly the room turns cold and I see smoke pouring out of her knees (which are of course deriving energy from her ears). She noticed my siphoning of the cookie and is enraged. Had we read Baby’s First Book of Obscenities she would have been quoting from it directly. Desperate to get back in her good graces I hand her the missing fraction of the cookie. She inspects it, and warily forgives my indiscretion. I can breathe once again.

And this is how I know my baby girl and I are destined to be besties. Intelligence and kindness are important, but at the end of the day true and lasting friendships are based on a mutual obsession with dessert. Don’t moo if you don’t want to. To heck with locating your ears! If we are to be compatible dates to the mother daughter festivities, all we have to do is remember to bring lots of cookies.

In sum:

A girl and her mama are pals
So long as they not discuss cows.
‘Hey we both like to eat,
Let’s make us a treat!’
And now they are two happy gals.