the things we try on

When Lucy was born, I had some kind of notion that Liz and I were going to divide and conquer. I would be Finn’s role model and Liz would be Lucy’s and we’d have it under control.

That paradigm lasted into Lucy’s toddlership, as she shed her diapers in favor of a potty that literally sang her a song as a reward for going number one. (I am all in on the evolution of the potty reward system, BTW.) Lucy was just two years old, and seemed blissfully unaware of the importance of adult role-modeling.

Then, two years ago, when she turned five, along came Sassy Lucy.

I don’t mean backtalking, rude Lucy. I mean the Lucy who, at Halloween, didn’t want to go as a pumpkin or a bear cub. She wanted to go as an 80’s rock star.

To answer your next question, I don’t know how she knew what an 80’s rock star was. But this was when Lucy became LUCY. This was the moment Lucy realized there was an infinite number of Lucys she could be.

The other night, all within a few minutes of each other, Lucy had a.) pretended to be a puppy while Finn fed her invisible puppy food, b.) asked Liz if she could give her Share Jar money to an animal shelter, c.) curled up with Liz to listen to the nightly reading of A Wrinkle in Time, and d.) ended the night by demonstrating what she called “my sassy moves and my sassy talk!” which she had, apparently, been working on all week.

The sassy moves and sassy talk (since you asked) went like this:

Lucy posed, flipped her hair, then rolled her eyes and intoned “Mom! I totally need my phone so I can call my boyfriend!!”

Now, let’s pause the scene right there for a second.

Because at that moment, my dad instinct was about to say “Lucy, that’s great, and I know you’re just joking, but just something to think about: That could come off as disrespectful to some grownups. But we love you so much and we know you’re just playing around.”

I would have thought that was a pretty great answer. But before I could say anything, Lizzie was already giving her a standing ovation.

“Wow! That was SO sassy, Lucy!” she exclaimed. “Looks like you’ve really been practicing!”

Then Lucy asked her mom if she thought she, Lucy, was CCP.

“I don’t know what that stands for, sweetie.”

“CCP. Cute, Cool, and Popular. Casey is CCP. I want to be CCP.”

This is how Liz responded:

“Lucy, you are definitely CCP! I think you are super cute, but being cute isn’t as important as how you treat people. And I think you are super cool. And I bet you’re popular because you are always thinking about how to make people feel loved,” Liz said. “So I think you should actually be striving at being KWL. Kind and well-loved. And guess what? You are! Yay!”

Lucy was really happy at that so I just added “Totally!”

Later that night, Liz told me this: “She’s just trying these things on. Like costumes. She’s just seeing how it feels to talk that way and think all these things. And she’s doing it around us, which means she trusts us. That’s a good thing.”

Lucy is discovering LUCY. She’s trying to figure out who she is. I just thought all this would come a lot later in life.

Lucy wants to feel loved and adored. (Don’t we all?) Right now she’s seeking that love and adoration from the most wonderful place possible – her mom and her dad and her brother. So if she wants to be super cool and sassy, I’m totally here for that.

Liz’s point about letting Lucy try on these costumes, real and figurative, is that if she can learn how it feels to be genuinely loved and understood and appreciated at home, then hopefully she will take these standards with her out into the world.

This is the question we ask each other in our family: Lucy, do you know why I love you so much? And Lucy knows the answer. “Because I’m me?” Yes. Because you’re you.

Trust me, we don’t live in magical fairy world. We mess up all the time. We can lose our tempers. The kids can be disobedient. We are a family and that happens.

What also happens, every single time, is that we apologize to each other, always, without exception. We ask forgiveness, every time. Liz will say this: Do you think God forgives me for being a bad mom just now? And Finn and Lucy know the answer. God forgives us because He loves us. And God loves us because He loves us. (I learn a lot from Liz.)

I want Lucy to believe, deep in her heart, that love and attention from men should be born of how they see her as a person, regardless of what costume she is wearing or how she is talking.

If I judge her based on those things she is trying out and trying on – if my attitude or love towards her changes – then she’ll learn that love depends on that. And she’ll already be learning that every single day from every worldly interaction and advertisement and movie. She doesn’t need to learn it from me too.

That’s the dad I want to be.

Also, in other costume news, here are:

The Top Five Non-Halloween Costumes Worn by Grennan Children.

1.) Mario Finn.

When Finn was in preschool he was the center of the singalong, something about pasta and spaghetti and whatnot. They dressed him in a black hat and ridiculous shirt and a drawn on moustache that made him look like Super Mario. And I’m not trying to get all politically correct but are my Italian friends all cool with this?

2.) Soccer Witch.

Soccer season and Halloween overlap. How other parents deal with this I have no idea. All I know is that Lucy was dressed as a witch one year and she had a soccer game and so we ended up having to go to the game in a witch costume with pink shinguards and red soccer shirt pulled over a tattered witchy robe. The coach gently suggested a change in uniform.

3.) Underpants Head.

What is it about underpants and little kids? Lucy came in one time with so many pairs of underpants pulled over her head that she looked like a Bedouin. 

4.) Cardboard Transformer.

I don’t know how long Finn worked on this costume, but I imagined him like a cobbler by candlelight staying up all night to work on new shoes for the Prince. He came down one morning looking, I’m telling you, like an actual Transformer, head to toe, stilted walk and all. If we can channel that work ethic Finn is going to invent a time machine.

5.) Princess.

Lucy is, over and over again, across the ages, dressing up like a princess. And I love that.

This photo is from about three years ago, the Yellow Princess years. The earrings are clip on.

The Princess backstory changes and the costume changes and her fake royal accent changes but lemme tell you something, and maybe this is pedestrian and predictable and clichéd, but I’m up for that every single day. I’m also up for the witch and the rocker and whatever else Lucy comes up with. I am here for it.

By | 2018-05-23T10:13:29-04:00 May 23rd, 2018|14 Comments


  1. Marcy Prager May 23, 2018 at 10:32 am - Reply

    Daughters are a challenge. My daughter was attached to me like CRAZY when she was a little girl. We had a wonderful time together. Then she wanted a total separation. She decided to go to college across the country to be independent and did not call me for three months. When she got married and was ready to have children, she and her husband bought a house three streets away from me. We see each other every day. My daughter is my best friend. Daughters do try on lots of personalities. Be patient, continue to tell her how much you love her, and she will be your best friend forever.

    • Conor May 23, 2018 at 2:40 pm - Reply

      That gives me hope! We always wonder what direction the kids will take, but even when there are years like that we want to make sure they know can always come home!

  2. Heather May 23, 2018 at 11:23 am - Reply

    This helps. Thank you for your honesty.

    • Conor May 23, 2018 at 2:40 pm - Reply

      Thanks Heather!

  3. Sue May 23, 2018 at 11:59 am - Reply

    Conor, your blog kinda makes me wish I could have another go at parenting. You made some great points, plus you made me laugh, as usual. My favorite comment was “totally”!

    • Conor May 23, 2018 at 2:41 pm - Reply

      Thanks for reading Sue! Miss you!

  4. Liz May 23, 2018 at 12:57 pm - Reply

    Our sweet Matooce. I love this blog entry. And I love the father you are to our girl.

    • Conor May 23, 2018 at 2:42 pm - Reply

      Luce Matooce! You’re my hero babe!

  5. Sara May 23, 2018 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    Auntie Sara would snuggle up that sass any ol time! And, Liz….mic drop on the amazing mom wisdom affirming her. I would have been like, “Who are the girls at school telling you about this cool business, you need stay away from them”. “). #raisingtrainwrecks

    • Conor May 23, 2018 at 3:37 pm - Reply

      That Lizzie knows what she’s doing.

  6. Betsy May 24, 2018 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    What a beautifully written observation of your daughter/father relationship. Your bond will last through all the phases left to come.

    • Conor May 25, 2018 at 9:22 am - Reply

      I pray that’s true! Thanks Betsy!

  7. Cindy May 29, 2018 at 1:23 pm - Reply

    I love this Conor! I love how real and funny you are deep friend! Your blog is my absolute favorite blog!

    • Conor May 30, 2018 at 5:53 am - Reply

      Thanks Cindy!!!

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