I have a habit of hand washing my delicates.

Before you read that sentence all wrong, I wash my undies in the sink so they don’t get mangled in the washing machine by velcro, hooks, buckles, or a T-Rex. When you live with three males and one small but very wild female, you never know what might end up in the washing machine with your delicates – that is just a fact.

These days I am lucky if I remember to pull down my pants before I sit down to take a pee. It goes beyond my usual ditz factor, I am really that busy, sleep-deprived, and distracted at the moment. Because of this (and possibly my natural ditz factor with a dash of lazy) I left some clean undies hanging in the bathroom and promptly forgot them. Before I continue, I’d like to say it again:

They were clean.

So, last night I was summoned to the bathroom by Sol.

“Mommy! Mommy! Zaviera is *mumble mumble* OW! Mommy, Zaviera just kicked me in the mouth!”

I hear a growl, a delighted shriek, both of which I recognize as coming from my sweet little flower of a daughter.

“OW! Mommy, Zaviera just scratched my face because I told her that *mumble mumble*…”

When I reflect on why my son’s words translated into mumbling, I realize it is because I had no point of reference for what he was trying to tell me.

I stepped into the bathroom to confront my two water monkeys and threaten them with an early bedtime.

Sol hunched over, glowering at his sister.

Zaviera was smiling the smile of the truly content.

And, she had my undies hanging out of her mouth, chewing and sucking on them like a happy little puppy.

“Zaviera!” I reached for the undies.

She dodged my hand, squealing and giggling, her eyes lighting up with mischief.

“Zaviera Maia Marama Clarke!”

We like to tell people that we gave our children long names to honor their ancestry, but really, I just wanted to rattle them off during times of discipline.

Zaviera Maia Marama Clarke shoved the undies further into her mouth.

“I told you Mommy, she was sucking on your undies,” Sullen Sol said from his corner.

My daughter smiled, her crooked little teeth latched down on her treasure. I swear she nearly growled when I reached toward her again.

“You need to give those to me. Now.”

Her smile turned into a frown. The beginning of a showdown gathered in her eyes. Her fists clenched.

“I’m going to count to three and you know what that means.”




Her mouth dropped open, the undies fell out, she looked at me, forlorn.

“Thank you,  sweetheart.”

I wasn’t two steps out of the bathroom when I started laughing.

“Dan,” I said, walking into the kitchen. “You want to know what I just found your daughter doing?”

I described the incident.

“Of course,” he said. “She saw your undies and thought ‘Mommy!’ and then she felt all this love and being Zaviera, she shoved the undies in her mouth and started chewing on them because she loves you so much. That’s just a total Zaviera way of expressing her emotions.”

Normally, I try to refrain from admitting Dan is right about anything. At least not to his face. Whenever I do he replies with, “I know I’m right. I’m always right.” Which then forces me to tackle him and humble him. He is a lot bigger than me and tackling him takes energy and motivation, both of which I have little of these days.

But I’ll admit it now. He was right about Zaviera.

My daughter’s love is a force of nature. She flings herself at me and squashes her face into mine. She tangles her fingers in my hair and pulls. She latches her arms around my neck and hangs from my back, nearly choking me. She follows in my shadow, imitating me. All I have to do is open my arms and she is instantly wrapped around me, her little heart pounding against mine.

And yeah, she eats my underwear.

It’s why we call her the Crazy Little Creature. 

 I would have gladly dumped my entire drawer of delicates into the bathtub, sacrificing them, if it guaranteed that she would never stop loving me with such fierce abandon.

17 responses

    • Dan, when I typed that, I sh*t you not, I thought: Dan is going to leave a comment about what happens after I finish counting.

      What happens after 3?
      Things That Must Not Be Named.

      I send her to her room – Zaviera without an adoring Mommy audience is like the Iron Man without that glowing thing in his chest.

    • Sol was obsessed with my shoes (his father is shoe a collector), and he went through a temporary fascination with my bras.

      I hope she never ever does – I can’t imagine what it would be like to have that kind of warm sunlight taken away from me!

  1. I don’t know another person on this earth that can make a child chewing on panties sound so poetic. You have a gift (and so does Z).

    • Ha! Thank you K.
      And here I was worrying about it (but you know I couldn’t resist telling this story). Even when Zaviera is picking her nose, she does it with flair, like it is this perfect expression of a moment in time…but I’m totally smitten with her.

  2. I see Zaviera is still Zaviera and will be Zaviera for eternity. She is you unleashed. She is Z for ZUMBA, ZESTY, ZOWIE ( look it up in the dictionary). She is the Z word. And you, you are her anchor and warm blanket and softness and Spanish shoe throwing mama all wrapped into one. I am so in love with the way you love each other! Poor Sol… what an indignity for him to see her eat your undies. He will be scarred for life. 🙂

  3. This might be my favorite story ever. I literally laughed out loud. Your life is so entertaining and enchanted…I want to meet this amazing little girl.

  4. I like to imagine Zaviera as the little girl monster in Where the Wild Things Are, you know, the one that was left out of the book. I see her as a happy, growly, mischievous pixie-faced adorable monster whenever you write about her!

  5. Awesome. What a hilarious story, and I love how you spin it out into a story about your daughter’s fierce love. Wonderful writing!

  6. We are totally reading this out at Zaviera’s 21st!!!
    Also – I feel the same way about long names, it’s so much more satisfying when you yell it out! (Shelley knows she’s in trouble when I say her full name)

  7. My daughters dogs eat her undies! Yes clean ones. They actually chew them all up. And yes they really really love her.

    • My daughter reminds me of a puppy sometimes (and not just in the literal ‘chewing undies’ sense..heh) with her unedited passion and enthusiasm and fullbody expression of just about every emotion!

  8. I just finished reading your featured post, and had to read on…and had to comment to say that this is one of the funniest things I have read recently! You have an amazing way with words, and your daughter sounds like she’s just overflowing with personality!

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