So, in the hustle and bustle of the holidays and the outpouring of many gifts for the newest member of our family, of all the things for our Grace to latch onto, she would not part with her makeup bag.
My parents made the trip from North Carolina to the great state of Texas and somewhere in my mother’s VIP shopping, she had obtained two distinct cosmetic bags and brought them to my daughters. Claire (my oldest) was grateful to have a travel space for her lip gloss and hair bows but Grace (my youngest and most recent addition) was beyond elated. Nothing else really spoke to her nor held her interest like that bag. It is blue and bright and dotted and flowered and she began to fill it to her liking. My chapstick, her grandmother’s chewing gum, and a pack of tissues. She carried it on every Christmas outing in the van, like a Gucci pocketbook, despite having several little girl purses of her own. It was hers.
What our social worker cited as likely a combination of age two and orphanage time (although in her words likely more age two) is an interesting pattern of behavior that Grace has begun to exhibit. She wants to do everything herself and when she wants something, she will get it and get it in secret if she has to. Snacks are obtained and we have understandably made healthy ones easy for her to grasp when she needs them. But other things are quietly confiscated in stealth-like manner out of her siblings’ (and her mother’s) belongings. Her brother’s Tic Tacs, her sister’s hand sanitizer and her mother’s favorite lip gloss. All done when no one is watching and taken in abundance. If you have never seen a very cute Chinese girl with Tic Tacs pouring out of her cheeks, you are missing a sight! She’s not just taking one, and lip gloss is matted on her entire face like she’s applying sunscreen in a Texas July.
There is a need to have, to have it now, to have it in abundance and to have it in secret. What tickles us is that she acts more like she carries our genes than one who was adopted. What is done in secret is often followed with hands behind her back and a guilty look. Most toddlers who stand in a room staring at you with objects behind their back are understandably giving something away. She is confessional. Just like my oldest daughter who despite being Protestant could pass herself off for Catholic. That’s a shout out to my Catholic friends – one of my favorite things is confession and keeping things “in the light” or “on the table” or in this case “behind my back but I’m standing here until you see!” So here comes Grace waltzing into my room with a face full of Tic Tacs and lip gloss and gobs of hand sanitizer behind her back. Wearing her brother’s watch. Stealth but confessional. In control but not really.
So, that’s where the makeup bag is genius. Wouldn’t you know it, every time we went anywhere she had that bag but asked permission for every piece of gum and every use of lip gloss. Every time. I think it just somehow made her feel better that she had it all in her grasp and in her control and that it was hers. She could touch it and carry it around and call it her own and even though she has a million things she could do that with, these things are somehow important. Because somewhere along the way that kind of control was lost and it’s being found and we are making up for it. Because you can’t fight control with more control. It’s like fighting soap scum on the shower door with more soap scum. It just adds up and gets dirty and worse. A little control given over to make up for lost control so control doesn’t need to exhibit itself so much. Tissues for snot that isn’t there and enough lip gloss to moisturize for a year. A makeup bag to make up for it.