Just sitting here reading a book while A plays with her toys in the living room, when she announced: "let me go wake up those children." I'm now watching, bemused, while she awakens her father and older brother...
This year, you've learned so much that you're practically unrecognizable. It's easy to forget how much a toddler changes until you look back at the year before. Your dad runs a full-time classroom of one around this place, and what with colors and letters and numbers and such, it's making it seem like he really misses homeschooling your brother. You can finally ride AND steer your tricycle. You had the pedaling down pretty much instantly, but you could never get the idea that those handlebars were there for more than just comfort. You can run like the wind, and you know how to put your "running shoes" on all by yourself. There was great rejoicing when you finally consented to be potty trained, and you are out of diapers (nighttime doesn't count, it's hard to hold your bladder in your sleep, I totally get it). You are stubbornly independent, and voracious for knowledge, which keeps us on our toes with your barrage of "why" questions. Not going to fudge, here, I've totally replied "because I said so." It's not a cop-out, it's exhaustion. You are more logical than your developmental charts say you should be, and easier to reason with than your older brother (ahem!). You notice when we take a wrong turn on the way home...from anywhere! I couldn't do that until I was...well, still can't...
You have converted back to being a dress-wearer. You love wearing your gigantic pink tutu over everything (including nothing...), and are so proud of the fact that you can put it on and take if off by yourself. I had to convince you yesterday that your pirate dress wasn't acceptable church attire. You dressed as Alice in Wonderland, Princess Anna, a fairy princess, Batgirl, and aforementioned pirate (complete with frilly pirate tutu, lest you should be concerned...) all within the course of your birthday month. When people asked me what you were going to be for Halloween, I just said you'd decide on that day. How could it be otherwise, when it means your world is full of possibility and imagination?
You still talk ALL. THE. TIME. Most of the time I can understand you now, but sometimes you still say absolutely nonsensical things. You converse with me over the breakfast table, and when you sleep in of a morning, I miss hearing your constant chatter, which is about absolutely nothing, but perfectly captures your delight in the world around you. This morning, I was trying to multitask, and you took me sharply to task for not being available to "talk" to you. I think your father's hearing has gotten worse, just from the steady stream of sound directed towards his ears. You have an extremely loud stage whisper that you usually employ in church, to the giggling delight of your brother. You have a maniacal laugh where you throw your head back and burst out laughing. It makes everyone around you giggle, but also scares them a little bit... You'll say something crazy, and then roll your eyes while declaiming, "I'm just kidding!" You didn't get that sense of humor from anyone I know...
You have warmed up to strangers (somewhat). You now realize that when you wave at someone, or smile cheekily, they will respond in kind, and you take every chance to scan the crowd for takers. This must be done from a safe distance, however, for the instant that contact is made, you are done with the new relationship, and have moved on. I surmise that you were suspicious of the world at birth, and are planning on doing more research into the subject before fully committing yourself to an opinion. Maybe when you're ten, you'll be capable of shaking someone's hand. You make Stranger Danger into an art form. The same wariness does not characterize your love for the Animal Kingdom. You adore animals of all kinds, but especially Tesla. It's not even really true to call her "the family cat", or "our cat." She's your cat, and has been from day one. You will "play" with her, "talk" to her, hug and squeeze her, and she will allow your affection without batting an eyelash or swishing a tail. Either you are part cat, or she's your familiar...
You sing constantly - one would suspect you get that from your mother, but your father has plumbed previously-unrecognized depths, and loves to teach you new songs, or make up words to old ones. You nickname all of your lullabies: the Sunshine song, the Ariel song, the Cheeky song, the River song, the Dancing song. You can sing in tune, and you add a hefty dose of dynamics to your vocal offerings. You like to create impromptu drums out of everything (much like your brother, I will add), and you notice when everyday sounds have repetitive rhythm or variable pitch ("it's making music, Mom!"). Your dad will turn on "ballerina music" at your command, and classical strains will fill the house, as you spin and twirl with your eyes closed, swept up in the sound. One day, my heart almost broke for joy as you sat beside me at the piano, learning your first notes. I have always hoped that we could teach you to love music, but I don't think you have need of teaching when melodies run in your veins.
You still fit on my lap and in my arms, a warm, compact parcel of curls and wiggles that smells of sunshine and sugar. You have learned to say "I love you", and you make sure that we know it, we who share this life with you, with liberal hugs, and kisses, and words of appreciation all around. And if I have one wish for you, it would be that someday you glimpse how joyfully, how deeply, how fiercely we love you.
Happy birthday, beanie.
Right as I was sitting down with A in her rocking chair, after all the pomp and ritual of the bedtime routine was over, she announced that she wanted to kiss her brother. Since she was already exhibiting signs of extreme fatigue, and we were already past the point of exchanging kisses with family members, I deflected by saying she could kiss him tomorrow instead, but that it was too late for tonight, expecting her to forget as soon as she was tucked in.
Naturally, five minutes later, she was still asking to kiss her brother goodnight. She then proceeded to explain: "I want to give him five kisses, because he's my favorite boy."
I'll give you one guess as to whether she won that round.
I'm a pushover, yes, but gosh, that level of cuteness is difficult to combat.
I talked with my sister last night about our respective careers. Listening to her talk, as always, I am stunned by her intelligence, her compassion, her kindness, and above all, her passion.
No one in my family lacks strength in our convictions, nor do we feature low on the ferocity scale. But my little sister is the most passionate person I know. She's always had the family reputation for taking up the cudgels in an unlikely someone's defense, and she has made a life out of that same fierce drive. Don't ever get into an argument with her, for you will likely feel not only stupid, but as if you're the greatest monster on earth. She speaks so eloquently, and with such fire, that I envision her legal opponents crumbling before her. I definitely would/do (it's very humbling, since I'm older, and therefore should be correct by age alone!).
I'm so proud of her, not only for the career she's chosen, but for her belief in it. She makes the world a better place in the best way she can.
When you were small, I observed to my mother that my reflexes were faster, better trained, clumsy/awkward girl that I was before you. You see, I spend my motherhood trying desperately to catch you - an outstretched arm, a wild grab. Don't trip, don't fall, don't run away, don't grow up. But you don't wait for permission, and you don't slow down to allow me to catch up. I've never been ready for the being that is you (although how could I ever have been prepared), your energy, your love, your life have always caught me by surprise. It was not an option, I couldn't fail, I couldn't ever be less than you needed, and yet, I cannot ever succeed in being what you deserve, this endless parent-sized paradox in which we find ourselves. Thus, you dragged me along out of my childhood, and into yours, you old soul, you wise babe. And now, you have my long legs, and my passionate arguments, and my bleeding heart, and you run farther out of reach, with your height scratched ever higher on the door post, with your long legs, your likes and dislikes that are no longer reflections of mine. I struggle to keep up, but you'll always outrace me, a small, fierce sun just over the horizon, but lighting the path back into grace.