It’s safe to say that my favorite books when I was a kid were The Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin. Which is why it was totally crazy of my mother to give them to my cousins after I’d stopped reading them, only to have them donate the books to the church library or something, never to be seen again. Naturally, it took me a few years to realize that a)the books were GONE and b)they were NOT COMING BACK. (And then I whined about it for at least a decade.)
Luckily, in awesome Mom fashion, two years ago she got her hands on a pristine set of the books (from the 80’s**, before they redesigned the covers and made them ugly***), through book 82 or so (long after Ann M. Martin had stopped writing them and I’d stopped reading them.) I’d never been so happy. My broken heart was mended; my shelves are the envy of some.
(Insert raucous applause for mom here.)
I’d venture to say that the Baby-Sitters Club girls were like the Sex and the City girls of their day. I was definitely a Mary Ann, (who I guess grew up to be Charlotte?) except I dressed like Kristy. (A freaking slob. A thrown-away slob whose clothes never even remotely matched. I had a t-shirt that said “Freak in the Room” (complete with Fruit of the Loom logo.) It took me many years to learn how to dress myself and sometimes I’m still not sure that I know what I’m doing. I mean, I didn’t start wearing eyeliner until like a year ago. And I still don’t know how to fix my hair.) I look at pictures of myself from 7th grade and wonder why my mom ever let me leave the house looking like I’d been left on the side of the road for days. I realize now that she probably figured it wasn’t worth the fight and that I’d look back someday and wonder just what the hell was wrong with me — which is possibly the ultimate mom victory.
(Insert slow clap for mom here.)
The worst is probably my 7th grade school photo**** — I’d forgotten it was picture day, and so my hair was in fine form, pulled back into a ponytail, with a mess of bangs that kinda look like a deflated pompadour on my head. Like someone had taken my ponytail and flipped it back on top of my head so the ends of my hair made my bangs. Except they were my actual bangs, not a reverse ponytail. I was a mess. And the sad (awesome) thing was that I really didn’t care. (Perhaps I will locate this photo and scan it. Don’t hold your breath, though). Did Kristy ever care what she looked like? Hell no! That girl went for comfort from the get-go.
(Insert sideways glance and slow nod of approval for Kristy here.)
But I was also an extreme goody-two-shoes (still am) who did her homework and minded her parents (even if it meant sneaking Kudos granola bars out of the kitchen cabinet for a snack every now and then. Not that they would have denied me a snack. I was just afraid to ask for fear of rejection. And also, they were delicious and I was hungry.) And I didn’t play sports because mostly I was afraid of the ball. So, Mary Ann prevailed.
I didn’t relate to Claudia because I was smart (but I did admire her candy collection.) My cousins had diabetes, so they had Stacy covered (though from the big city they were not). And I probably didn’t meet any crunchy Dawn types until high school, but she was alright I guess. At least she didn’t come across as a major biotch like the other girls did (in at least one book apiece.) And I didn’t pay attention to the younger girls because I was one of the older girls. Mallory Who? Jesse Somebody? They are worthy of a pat on the head.
Tonight I just got a few new (used) books to add to my collection (for 35 cents each!) and felt the urge write a little love note to those books and to my momma. There’s a life lesson in here somewhere. (And it is to let your momma help you with your hair even if you hate hairspray and think it stinks.)
*Theme song parody courtesy of my family, circa 1994
****There is a picture from a birthday party in 7th grade that is a pretty close second, though.