Wednesday, April 19, 2017

being a marlee in a lila jane world

In Todd's class at the King's Daughters Day Home, there is a girl with little blonde ringlets named Marlee.  She is everything.  She is loud and forward and always charges the door whenever anyone walks in.  She is darling and precocious and forceful.  She demands to know my name and what I'm doing in their classroom, every single day, for the last two years.  She is frequently having some sort of absolute meltdown when I drop Todd off or pick him up.

There is also a little wisp of a girl named Lila Jane.  Her hair is straight and fine and brown.  She is quiet as a mouse.  I've never even heard her whisper.  She hangs in the background.  She looks fearfully at the door when I come in.  She could be a ghost - I'm not even really sure I've seen her name listed on the sign-in sheet.  Her eyes are big and soulful.  

I sensed some sort of triangle happening between Todd and Marlee and Lila Jane about a year ago.  Marlee wanted lots of hugs from Todd when we walked in one morning.  He seemed standoffish about it.  I asked him about it later, when I picked him up.

"Yeah, Marlee always wants to sit next to me at morning circle . . . but I want to sit by Lila Jane."

UGH.  Of course you want to sit by Lila Jane.  The Lila Janes of this world - mysterious and withholding and dropping you little crumbs of their personality every now and again - they always get the guy.  The Marlees may get everything else, but the Lila Janes get the guy.

Me (and my daughter) - I'm a Marlee.  What you see is what you get.  I will show you everything, even if you don't want to see it.  I will go as far as you will let me.  I don't know any other way to be.  I have no idea how to be a Lila Jane, but I have always sensed that those little wisps are what men want.  And . . . I hate myself for even having this line of thought.  I'm a Marlee - I don't care what men want, right!?

Right. . . . right.

No shade on the Lila Janes.  I'm sure that most of them don't know any other way to be, either.  We are all just doing the best we can with what we've got.  But what is it about the men that makes them want the Lila Janes?  Do they feel non-threatening?  Like a challenge?  Uninterested in you?

I will probably never know.  And I'm chronically unable to act like something that I'm not.  But it still feels like I have spent most of my life stomping while everyone else was tiptoeing, and I'm not sure how to stop stomping, and sometimes my feet hurt.


Lisa Lewis said...

I have both Lila Janes and Marlees in my class - almost always do. It is often the sweethearted guys who sit with the Lilas, and play with the Marlees. But what I have noticed is that everyone wants to take care of and protect the Lilas - especially the Marlees! It isn't a male/female thing, so much as it is a protector/protected thing. It's more a Mary/Martha thing. The strong willed ones (like Vicki Jo and you) need to be there to take care of what needs doing. Then there are those who just watch from the sidelines, wishing they knew how to affect change. Then there are all those in the middle, who wish they knew what was going on! We need all three.

Emily said...

Thanks for this insight, Lisa. I agree that I have a strong desire to protect those that I feel need protecting (we can argue about whether they *want* to be protected!). The hard part for me, sometimes, is that the strong-willed ones need someone to protect them, too. And we are prickly about it and make it difficult.