Four

Oh, my dear Maggie. What else can I say that I haven’t already said this month? Let’s just talk about your day instead.

You’re my good morning sleeper; I can always count on you to stay asleep–or at least stay quiet enough that I don’t hear you–until about 8am. Today was no exception, and because we had things to do you got decked out in your finery. Pink sequin baseball hat, silver glitter ballet flats, yellow long-sleeves, and the crowning pinnacle: a hot pink t-shirt that read “I am 4!” You got ready without complaint, and ate a full breakfast happily.

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Since it’s term break you got to go with your sister to Little Gym and revel in the gym area, which is essentially a cell padded in primary colors. You hung upside down on parallel bars, crashed into hexagonal rolling blocks, and raced on the balance beam–but unlike other times, you pitched in when it was time to tidy up, and you called out to the teacher by name to thank her at the end. We ran to the grocery store and then to home; you talked with your grandparents and told them “I hung upside down!” before demanding that your Nana read “Are You My Mother?” (this month’s Skype read-a-long book of choice).

With a morning full of hard work and exercise behind you, you were in an exceptionally good mood after I put Moira to bed. You played on the iPad a bit, did some jigsaw puzzles, and with some cajoling you humored me on a letter-tracing app. Quiet time until Daddy came home, again without complaint. Sushi for dinner and a cake afterward that was lit with candles that you were so excited to blow out that you high-fived Moira’s face.

In a lot of ways it was just another day, a typical every-day out-of-the-ordinary day in the life. I’d love you no matter what, but you’re just a really good kid at a really fun age. There’s very little we can’t do with you (which is how you hit a count of 11 countries before age four), you’re curious, you’ve got a great deadpan sense of humor, and hell, you’ve been potty-trained for a full year now. What else do you really want out of life?

Here’s where the day really diverged from the usual: you got to open presents. Puzzles and books from friends and family who all are head-over-heels in love with you. Hours of good times. And then there was our gift.

A long time ago, back when you and I were staying with your grandparents while your daddy had to work, I packed up my old American Girl doll Addy and all her clothes. I washed the dresses carefully and put them aside with her books and accessories, dreaming of the day when I could share with you a doll that brought me such joy as a kid. You opened up your Addy doll today–not a baby doll but a big-girl doll–and promptly cradled her, tucking her in next to you on the chair and giving her a mother’s gentle, caring kisses. We asked you what else was in the bag and the response cracked me up: “I believe there are also books in the bag.” It was so prim and professorial; the piping high-pitched tones of an infant conveying the words of a Victorian grandmother.

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It all came flooding back, though, as you pulled out each dress–the hours you and I spent alone during those four months, just you and me finding ways to pass the time, dreaming of the future (and I couldn’t have written one as good as this one, little girl), holding the doll and preparing her for the little girl at the center of my world, you and me and you and me exploring the world and finding our way together, just the two of us, and three years later the time has come to pass these things along and there’s four of us now, just us four on your fourth, but later on at the end of the day it was just Addy, and you and me cuddled up in bed.

And I tucked the two of you in after dressing you both in your pajamas, remembering all those times when you and I were one together, and let you go into your dreams.

Happy birthday, sweet girl.

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