Memos from the Middle

Smack-Dab in the Middle of Living

The Prier, the Princess, and the Pirate

When I was a little girl, I sat in my upstairs bedroom with window cracked so that I could hear the conversations of passersby. I would close the blinds and eavesdrop on my neighbors and their friends, taking snippets of their dialogues, weaving them into little tales or poems. The phrases I didn’t understand, I wrote, as best I could remember, in the margins of my spiral for use later. It was a creatively nosy enterprise, and I loved it. If one had asked the ten-year-old me what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would have said, “a writer.”I realize now that I was honing my observation skills (can you see how I’ve rationalized things?) to write and teach writing with realism and style.

I’ve asked my daughters what they hope to be when they grow up, wondering if their aspirations fit an any way with the personalities I’ve watched develop. M. dreams of becoming a princess, teacher, and  soccer player. If you knew her, you would realize that the three goals are in no way conflicting. She is as prim and proper as they come, ready to impart her “vast” knowledge to all who will listen, before or after she dazzles you with her athleticism.

“Do you think I can do everything, Mommy?”

“Of course, I do. You’re a talented, thoughtful girl. I’m sure you’ll figure out a way to make those dreams come true.”

D., running full speed and screaming through the house, searching for the broom to mount like the mean witch on the latest episode of Dora, was harder to pin down.

“Come here, now!” I catch her, and she immediately starts climbing my body like I’m a tree. She reaches my shoulders, locks her fingers behind my neck, and swings.

“WWWEEEE!” She giggles and clenches tighter as I try to pry her hands loose.

“What do you want to be when you grow up, little girl?” I ask once I’ve finally removed her from my neck.

“A Halloween!” she screams.

“No, not for Halloween. What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“Oh,” she says as if she’s finally processing my question. “Uh, grow up?”

“Yes, when you grow up.”

“A pirate.”


“A pirate, Mommy. A pirate. I wanna be a pirate!” She’s jumping up and down for emphasis, I guess. I try to get more information.

“Why do you want to be a pirate?”

“I want an eye-patch. Arg!” She laughs at herself and jumps on the arm of the couch, pointing purposefully toward the west. “We’re going that way. Mommy, say, ‘Aye, aye, captain.'”

“Aye, aye, captain.” I repeat as I pull her off the couch.

“Hey, that’s my ship,” she says in fake disgust.

“No, that’s my couch,” I reply.

“Arg!” I give chase, and she barrels screaming down the hallway.

  • Pirate Princess (–I’ve got to check this out!

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2 thoughts on “The Prier, the Princess, and the Pirate

  1. Thanks! Never a dull moment around here!

  2. The little joys of life. It’s simple but so deep, Marylin. Love to your girls.


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