Number One has turned eleven. ELEVEN! She is going into junior high this year. Where has the time gone? I swear, it was just a few months ago that she was learning to walk! No, not the case. She is growing up and I don’t think I could be more proud of her and who she is becoming.
Number One has always been her own person. She has never followed the trends or really given much thought to what people think of her. While other girls were playing with barbies and baby dolls, she was fishing and catching bugs. She has no interest in fashion. I mean, she really could not care less. That has been a point of contention, I’ll admit. NOT that I want her obsessed with fashion or labels, just that I would like for her to give just a teeny-weeny shit about how she looks, every now and then. If she had it her way, she would wear worn out leggings and any old stretched out tee or tank that she could get her hands on. I call it “orphanage chic”. She can’t be bothered with fashion, her only goal is absolute comfort. For hanging around the house, it’s fine but if we are going anywhere or an occasion arises, I usually have to ask her to go and change into something that doesn’t look like her wardrobe is acquired through dumpster dives.
A couple of years ago, at the age of 9, someone asked what she was going to be when she grew up. She confidently stated, “I’m gonna be a herpesatologist”. Needless to say, both the asker and I were taken aback by the word “herpes” being part of the answer and neither of us knowing what she meant to say, as this was the first I had heard this answer. Up to that point, she wanted to be a veterinarian and also work at a tanning salon (like her aunt, “Apy”). I asked her what a “herpesatologist” was and she, seemingly annoyed with my lack of knowledge, answered, “someone that works with reptiles and stuff”. A quick google search gave me the answer, a HERPETOLOGIST, is a zoologist that studies reptiles and amphibians. I let her know that there was no “s” in the middle of the word. Her mind hasn’t changed since making the declaration of this future goal. She reads books on herpetology and teaches her brothers and friends about different snakes. She has given my friends facts and tidbits about the lizards and geckos that crawl around our door frames. She is quite a little scholar.
For the past month or so, I’ve been planning her birthday party. I had some ideas but finally asked Number One what she had in mind. I don’t know why I was surprised when she answered, “I want a reptile party”. I should have just known. Since that went a completely different direction that what I had been pinning on pinterest, I was going to have to start from scratch with this request. I asked Google, “what the hell is a reptile party” and I was greeted with pictures of snake cakes and cheap snake toys. Then I saw a link for a company close by titled “Crocodile Encounters”. After further research and a few email exchanges with the owner, I booked her party. Sunday afternoon, a truck arrived at my home and they unloaded 4 huge black boxes into my living room. The kids were all seated and the two presenters brought out, one by one, different species of reptiles. After giving a quick lesson and a few fun facts, the kids were all allowed to touch each animal (except for one African Snapping Turtle that was hell bent on getting a finger or two for his troubles). My daughter, at one point, had three snakes draped over her neck and then held an alligator and a crocodile. The kids were all captivated. I have to say, they had the undivided attention of the adults as well.
After the party, the owner, Chris, told me how impressed he was with Number One’s attitude about seeing and handling all the animals. She didn’t bat an eyelash. She didn’t flinch. While some of the other children and adults recoiled from the animals, refusing to touch them or get near them, she relished every second of their presence here.