Skip this post if quasi-parental musings annoy you

Updates will trickle in at odd times for the next couple of weeks because my step-daughter, A, is visiting, and this pretending-to-be-a-responsible-parent-type gig requires lots of concentration.

Luckily A’s at art camp during the day, so I have plenty of time at work to mull over everything I’ve done in the past 24 hours and worry, by turns, that I’m too indecisive and permissive, or that I’m the reincarnation of my “when I say jump you leap over the moon and then ask, ‘is this high enough, Sir?'” father. Or, more likely, that I’m some confusing combination of the the two.

For the longest time I managed to hide my noise intolerance from A, but last night we were watching an old Looney Tunes episode — “My Bunny Lies Over the Sea” — and when Bugs Bunny glowered at the Scotsman as he tapped his foot on the ground, she turned to me and said, “Oh, look, that’s just like you, Maud.” I guess she’s picked up on the fact that I can’t even be in the same room with Max when he’s eating Grape-Nuts. Or that the sound of someone clicking a pen or popping gum sends me into rage paralysis. (I hope my poker buddies aren’t reading this, or they’ll incorporate noise into their — already far superior — strategies and I’ll lose even more money at the next game.)

Since I’ve never actually said anything about my aural aversions in front of A, and have tried never to react negatively to any noise she’s made, I stupidly thought I was doing a good job of concealing this particular neurosis. But kids always find you out, don’t they?
A isn’t quite twelve yet, but since her visit in January she’s grown another three inches and now stands a full half-head taller than me. (Not much of an achievement, I know, thanks, Balk.) I’ll spare you the they-grow-up-so-fast platitudes (but they do, they do).

Anyhow, I’m desperate for A-centered book suggestions and hoping some of you can help. She’s read all the Lemony Snicket and Judy Blume and Roald Dahl and Beverly Cleary and E.L. Konigsburg and Paula Danziger and E. Nesbit and Narnia books. Max introduced her to Madeleine L’Engle. (A Wind in the Door and L’Engle’s other books were banned in my house when I was a kid, due to their “Satanic” content, and I didn’t dare break the prohibition, as I did with the “sexually explicit” Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret, because I was led to believe that I and my family would be cursed for seven generations if I “dabbled in the occult” to that degree.) She also loves the Harry Potter series.

I used to send her books constantly, but I’m having a harder time of it now, because she’s in that in-between stage: not quite ready for The Great Gatsby, but old enough to look disdainfully upon the copy of Old Yeller I handed her this weekend. I tried Anne Frank’s diary and a Sherlock Holmes, but she didn’t bite.

Any guidance? (Please don’t suggest the Gossip Girl series, or I will be forced to assume you are an idiot and that all email from your address should be blocked.)


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