I’m starting to see, despite having grown up the eldest of three members of the species, that little girls really are a bit of sweet and a bit of spice. Or whatever “in-between” the moment requires.
My daughter spent the past weekend showing us some of her distinct idiosyncrasies on both ends of the sweet-spice spectrum. For one, Jai is a frequent hugger. The best hugger in town, really. She will run to a requester, arms wide, and dish the biggest, warmest embrace that those short arms can manage. When Jai is in the mood, she gives out free cuddles, aiming to sit cozily in a folded lap or plopping her bottom right next to anyone or anything on the couch. To make the nuzzling that much more endearing, she’ll accompany the sweetness with kisses that she molds from her favorite face shape (for now): the “fish lips.” Everyone gets a fish lips peck at most motions for the affection.
On the proverbial seesaw is that zest, which she displays with now-characteristic loud shrieks of displeasure. I believe she has patented this particular brand of yelping to protect herself from a 4-year-old brother who takes toys away from her. It’s her turtle shell, her skunk spray, her cat hiss. Whatever the protection, her scream rivals a fire station alarm. My God.
I’m closing one eye right now at the jangling of it in my memory.
Jai is a loving stuffed animal “mommy” and a gentle handler of soft blankets. Simultaneously, dolls get angrily thrown and blankets get pushed into her ever-probing mouth. She laughs and says “pretty” when referring to preferred outfits. She pouts and says “no” when wanting out of a situation. Jai winks. Jai howls. We go forward, we go backward, we spin in circles to keep up. She sets a standard on uncommon.
My toddler is a girl who will one day be a grown-up woman, full of spirit and spite and spunk and sass. At this point, as Jai’s personality bounces and she gets taller each day, I like to imagine her future self as either “a Betty” or “a Veronica.”
Betty and Veronica, two fictional characters from the comic strip “Archie,” established a benchmark in female character antagonism, particularly if the women were romantically involved with the same male protagonist. Betty was normally cute and spritely, the “girl next door” friend-who-so-happened-to-be-a-girl figure, friend-zoned to a fault. Betty was usually present at the right moments, usually pining over the guy, and usually hiding her feelings of love. Betty as a trope is easy to recognize. Veronica, her inverse by nature, was exotic, sexy, perhaps new in school, perhaps some undeniable level of mysterious. Veronica was flirty, but not easy; she was open, but not slutty. She liked to pretend that she didn’t notice the male attention, but she knew exactly what she was doing in those V-neck sweaters.
According to the wiki, TV Tropes, “. . .Whom the hero will end up with varies according to medium, story, and the values of the time period and culture where the story was made. Traditionally, Betty stood a better chance, at least if the story had a Happy Ending, due to conforming to social standards, while choosing Veronica would only lead the poor sap into ruin.” (“Betty and Veronica”)
The contributors continued. “Usually, the hero would spend the story chasing Veronica only to realize that Betty was The One — complete with a convenient ‘appreciate what you’ve got’ or True Beauty Is on the Inside Aesop. . .Movies have traditionally favored Betty, but video games, comics, and TV shows (especially long runners) have played this trope for all it’s worth. . .Even shows without such romantic entanglements in-universe can inspire Betty/Veronica debates amongst the Fandom; hence, Mary Ann/Ginger, Bailey/Jennifer, Janet/Chrissy, Velma/Daphne, etc.” (“Betty and Veronica”)
Ideally, Jai would be a unicorn-unique mash-up of the two iconic character images. She would be equally charming and equally dreamy. In fact, her delight would be considered a frisky sort of perk. She would be able to captivate a room and blend into a background. Jai could be one of the guys and a non-rival of the girls while wearing the admiration of both. She could be a cheerleader and a poet. Spunky and introverted. Saucy cheeky and deeply thoughtful. Beautiful and smart. Ladylike and tomboyish. Feminine and casual.
Essentially, Jai would become her mother.
If her mother was a comic strip character, of course.
“Betty and Veronica.” TV Tropes, n.d., http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BettyAndVeronica. Accessed Feb. 26, 2018.