Three years and only three visits to the emergency room–and one was just croup! Friend, we are doing all right.
Was two terrible? I don’t have anything to which I can compare it; you’re my first, after all. Aside from worrying that you had a developmental disorder (you don’t) and wondering if you would EVER POTTY TRAIN, MY GOD (you did, in the course of about a month) we had a good ride. Except for the first month after Moira was born and you decided that because we had usurped your role as One And Only, you were not going to eat. We got through it and you had a double-helping of pasta with cream carbonara sauce tonight. Go figure.
And you are a phenomenal big sister–generous with your blankie and your toys to a degree I would not have believed. Moira’s begun snatching at toys in your grasp and I fear a curse of violence is about to rain down on our hapless house, but for the moment you’ve always treated her with your patented mix of wary caution and kindness.
Preschool has been wonderful for you in that regard. You aren’t interested in groups of kids and need a lot of time to warm up. That’s totally fine. We aren’t all extroverts. You have begun to make friends with a select group of kids that you’re used to seeing; this is largely due to your collection of fabulous hats. Thanks to relatives who LOVE seeing your style, I don’t think you wore the same cap to preschool for the first two months of the winter term. This independence and willingness to wear anything that pleases you has gained you something I never expected you would have: you, my love, are POPULAR. Kids love you and your hats. I’m told that your pretty face (and objectively, my dear, you are quite stunning–particularly your gray-brown eyes and ink-black lashes) is probably a big part of it but I like to think your steadfast independence draws people in. You simply do your thing with absolute confidence, and kids are drawn to you. Adults too. Maybe it’s also the tone of your voice. Everything you say is a song; every syllable has a lilt and squeak. You don’t speak so much as you sing and you don’t walk when you can dance. You have movement and liveliness at the cellular level; your joy and rhythm are ever-present. You delight and charm when you want, and you walk away when you want, and sometimes you throw your anger out in huge bursts when you want, but you sing always.
Ah, that independence…thankfully it only goes so far. For a baby who wasn’t much on cuddling, you have turned into one heck of a snugglebunny. Every night we finish the day when you ask “Can you snuggle up to Mommy?” (Your language skills, while quite advanced, haven’t quite mastered all the intricacies of pronouns and it’s too adorable to correct.) You love sitting in my lap for stories–your favorite thing–and you’ll sit under a blanket with me as we pursue whichever book holds your fancy. We started your first chapter book this year: Winnie The Pooh. Now you love to ask me if we’re hunting Woozles while we take our walks. Your imagination is incredible. For my sanity and yours I maintained daily “quiet time” even after it became laughably obvious that you were only going to sleep in the afternoon if you were sick. You’ve never been a great napper and gave the practice up for good shortly after we moved, but you’ve never had a problem filling the hours by yourself. May you always have a woozle in your brain to hunt when you find yourself without anyone around.
It’s been mentioned by a few people who knew me when I was small that your fierce, FIERCE independent streak and need to have something be YOUR idea before you do it is some kind of payback and retribution for my parents. I hate that kind of attitude; it makes it seem as though the storyteller didn’t actually like you much as a kid and that they think you were so rotten as to deserve to have a kid just as rotten, when the truth is that I don’t see these traits as bad at all. You NEED to be independent in this world; you NEED to stick fiercely, FIERCELY, to your values and your ideals in order to thrive. Flexibility will come with maturity and nurturing; teaching it to you is part of my job. As I said when you kicked that doctor and screamed “No! You don’t touch me!” to a strange authority figure, it will be so much easier to teach you context and compromise than it will to teach you spirit.
And baby girl, you do have spirit. Oh yes…yes you do. You sing and prance and you are bright and electric and bold. You are high-definition life in color. When you’re around, the rest of the world is brighter too.
I love you so much, Margaret Kelley. Welcome to three. Happy birthday, my love.