Do you know this pretty little flower? Do you have one growing in your garden? I don’t think so. There’s not another like her and she’s all mine!
It’s my girl, Tanna. Aka: Tanna Banana–one of the loves of my life.
At the end of her rookie semester in grade school, we received the obligatory progress report which outlined developmental milestones a kindergartener should be able to complete. She was our “one and only” at the time and of course, we thought she was the smartest, brightest, most advanced five-year old in Shawnee Co. When we saw the lone but glaring “unsatisfactory” on her report card, I was surprised and *gulp* devastated.
The milestone was: Student knows middle name
Wait. What? She doesn’t know her middle name?
Secondly…that’s a requirement?!?
After school, I hugged her like I always do and then stooped lower so I could be face to face with those big, chocolate-brown, almond-shaped eyes.
Me: “Honey. Do you know your middle name?”
Tanna: “Of course I do, mama!”
Me: “What is it?”
Tanna: (Huge smile on her face) BAAA-NANA!!
Me: (trying not to laugh) “Actually, babe, it’s Renee. Just like my middle name. Tanna Renee Terry.”
A deep frown and furrow came over her face as she wrinkled her brow, “Mama. That’s my Get in Trouble name. You only say Tanna Renee when you’re really mad at me. I like BANANA! Banana is my middle name.”
Welcome to TannaLand.
A joyful place full of sunshine, smiles and innocence.
As a family, we’ve seen her visit TannaLand often over the years. When she was sixteen, I took her to the DMV to get her driver’s license. BIG DAY! We exchanged pleasantries with the nice man behind the counter until it was time to get down to business.
DMV-dude: “Okay young lady. Put your eyes into the reader of that machine. Can you read the fourth row down?
Tanna put her face to the reader and then….Silence.
I watched and listened. More silence.
My mind started to spin, “Does she need glasses? She can’t see? How long has this been going on? Why didn’t I know this sooner? I’m a terrible mom!”
DMV-dude: “Young lady. Can you read the fourth row down?”
Tanna looked back into the reader for a moment, stepped away and proudly proclaimed,
“YUP! I can read it just fine!”
As is often the case with Tanna, I found myself trying not belly laugh while simultaneously falling in love with her all over the again. The DMV-dude was very sweet, too, “Okay, honey. Good job. Now just tell me what those letters are. I’m not a very good female mind reader.”
Besides being obviously cute and adorable, the real gem in this memory is how it signifies her approach to life and people. In a world full of tragedies, distrust, and struggle; Tanna has the unique ability to accept people at face value as well as present herself in the same manner. No fluff, no prejudice, no judgement.
I wish I had two tickets to TannaLand this morning. Just so I could see her, hold her and borrow some of that mighty strength and innocence to get me through life’s daily challenges. That young lady is never far from my mind and most people don’t know that I’m just one more day of missing her away from a nervous breakdown. Several of my closest friends have sent (or getting ready to send) their girls off to college. I recognize the proud smiles and sad eyes…I see those same eyes in my mirror every morning.
I know! A mama should be proud to have an independent college sophomore at Kansas State University. I am! Her independence is a blessing and blah, blah, blah.Vomit.
Some days I want to be selfish and keep her here with me. All to myself snuggled up on the couch watching the Lion King and trading pedicures.
I love my boys, but Macy (our rat terrier) and I are outnumbered and sometimes completely lost when estrogen-laced tendencies do nothing but aggravate the male entities in this house (son, husband….freezing-and-can’t-stay-outside German shorthair).
My missing her gene kicked into overdrive last night and emotion unexpectedly swallowed me up like the cold blanket of snow that currently covers the driveway. My boys were wading through pools of moods I couldn’t (shouldn’t)help with and I just wanted my Banana–wanted to waste time watching (and mocking) the Victoria’s Secret runway show (who wears that stuff? Wings. Really?) while we ate popcorn and pretzel M&Ms.
I want to be like Tanna when I grow up. Full of joy, compassion, innocence and trust. There are a million more funny stories I could share where Tanna took a metaphor literally and had everyone rolling while she watched in amazement at the surprising reaction. But, the last thing I want to do is embarrass her any more than I already have just by being her mom. Poor girl…when she gets surprised or embarrassed, big alligator tears silently form in the corner of her eyes–making those sparkly orbs even more beautiful than they were before.
And please don’t worry about her. She doesn’t naively trust people and does exercise a healthy sense of caution required by a young lady attending a huge university. Her skill comes from the way she is able to see beyond what’s presented on the surface and find the good in whoever she is talking to.
People are drawn to Tanna’s authenticity, genuine compassion and ability to sense (and uplift) the emotions of the person she’s speaking with. She even engages with strangers in a way that’s so touching and genuine that it leaves them never forgetting the young lady they just met.
Their brief and blessed access to TannaLand.
Thank goodness I have season tickets.
(Macy Grey and Tanna Banana)