Zooey update: sixteen months

Summer, full-time

This is the first time in eight years we haven’t gone abroad to visit extended family for part of August. I feel a little bad, as you’d get a bunch of spoiling, but we did travel in May, your grandpa has come for a week, and you have been abroad three times in your little life. And what do you know? You’re happy as long as your immediate family is around.

So I brought you to work one day to say hi. There was Bamba there; there were computer cables there; you were happy.

We actually did a lot of exciting things during this time, too.

You got to finger paint.

You ate at restaurants. You started eating properly with spoons. You went swimming over and over (you love the water. Love. Water baby.) You drew on the sidewalk with chalk. You ate chalk. You sat in the waves at the beach, you watched boats at sea.

You took some more steps to keep up with it all.

Sibling love

It comes in all shapes and sizes and levels of torment. I’ve been thinking a lot about sibling love… I guess for years. As long as I’ve had siblings. Zooey, it’s all born out of something good I’m sure. The need for attention, the human requirement to be loved. Whether you get a playful kick or a not-so-playful kick in the face… it’s not you. It’s the struggle to be heard, to know one’s place, in the sibling universe.

Because for every maka there’s a spoonful of precious maadan.

For every too-tough tug, there’s a basket of laughs.

What’s next

You’re getting out there. You have a big year ahead – graduated from the comfort of your sweet loving Moroccan metapelet, you’re going to join a dozen other kids (likely more) in the nursery atmosphere of a maon. It means more language, more interactions, more experiments, more friends. We’re looking forward for you, Zooey.

Zooey update: fifteen months

We can hear you… your language is taking better shape… whether it’s your soft babble or your ‘dis’ or your just-barely ’emma’. We hear you, Zooey. We’re listening.

Or maybe it’s your language in movement… your little sideways waves.

Or maybe it’s your attempt at major movement – trying to walk. Taking steps to taking steps. You are deliberate in starting the next challenge; you do it in your own time.

They’re all steps to getting to the next level – being a part of the bigger gang.

Soft hair.

“Ima, feel how soft my hair is.”

How many times have we said/heard our girl friends say this?

“Ima my hair is so smooth today, I used extra conditioner.”

She has thick hair and it gets knotty; I tell her to use double.

“Ima, <boy friend> is going to love it…”

Huh?

“He tells me he likes it when my hair is smooth.”

They’re just innocent six-year-olds. Everyone loves smooth hair.

“He is definitely going to want to be my friend today.”

I stop her dead in her little girl tracks. I call for her to come back. Her brother is standing next to me, wondering what is about to happen. She skips back towards me. I bend down, so we’re eye level, and I take her face close to mine.

“Listen to me: no one is your real friend because your hair is smooth or because they like your clothes or because of how you look. Your real friends love you because of the kind of friend you are. <Boy friend> loves you because you are a good friend. Otherwise, you are not real friends.”

She smiles and nods and I tell her to go have fun, and she bounds onward toward the path to her kindergarten.

Her brother looks back at me. I look at him.

“That was important,” I tell him.

I should have said, “for you too.”

Zoey update: fourteen months

Sisters.

You have a couple.

And one sings you sweet songs and strokes your chubba arms and gives you kisses.

And the other kinda tortures you.

…and then she sings you sweet songs and strokes your chubba arms and gives you kisses.

And while you’re not being entertained by your siblings’ madness, you’re learning to entertain yourself. Singing. Talking. Waving. Clapping. Climbing. Slapping.

P.S. Can you maybe not slap me so hard in bed in the mornings?

Zooey update: thirteen months

Let’s hear it for the world-traveling babies!

The babies who try new things!

The babies who aren’t afraid to fly! (Literally!)

The worldly babies who won’t wait around, will grab your plate, will have what they’re having.

The babies who climb up the stone stairs when you’re not paying attention, when your back is turned and you hear a happy grunting, a pit-pat of palms coming up behind you; you, slowly turning around, quietly inching towards the staircase, like a cartoon cat realizing the mouse is creeping up behind you, but if you startle it, it will tumble back down the stairs. The babies who, once they reach the top, see you, their faces breaking out in an enormous smile of familiarity and appreciation and accomplishment, whether they realize your heart was racing because you weren’t sure until that moment if they’d see you too soon, get cartoonishly excited, and fall backwards.

The babies who will cock their chubba round heads, look you in the eye through their squinty eyes, stare you down for a few slow seconds, and then slowly – but slowly – break into a smile of like, ‘yeah. You’re ok.’

The babies who are curious and maybe kinda skeptical. But take a bite anyway.

Koala update: eight years

Recently we were laying in my bed, reading together. Well, you, the Jedi Academy books; me, A Man Called Ove. At some point I looked up from my pages and thought – huh. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.

An eight-year-old boy who is journeying through his own diverse world as it comes… making assumptions, listening to alternatives, asking questions, filling in the blanks.

An eight-year-old boy who can appreciate a Donald Trump joke.

An eight-year-old boy who begs for tablet time but also knows how to navigate outside. Throw something; see how it lands. Climb something; see further away. Explore a construction site. Imagine what will fill the space.

An eight-year-old boy with an appreciation for what came before him, and wonders what will be. Why is there only one wall left? Will the people who died ever come back?

It’s going to be a memorable year; we have some plans for you. We’re thankful you have awesome friends, a fine schooling experience, good relationships with your sisters. Whatever comes up, you have or are developing the tools to handle it.

And no, no matter what you’re wishing for over those candles… it’s not an iPhone.

Zooey update: twelve months

Don’t we know it, Zooey. It’s not easy snagging attention around here. I guess you have a hometown advantage of being the easiest to carry on my back. Just a bunch of koalas after all.

It’s not hard to believe a year has gone by – it’s been such a packed year, what with me stretching maternity leave with you as long as I could… you got a better deal than your siblings that way, too. I did the best I could and went back to work and now I’m trying to snag what I can get. It goes both ways.

Also – you have a thing for balloons. Can you guess why? Here’s a hint: Boobs.

So yeah, it’s been a wild year. We were attached for a lot of that. Even if the balancing act got so much more challenging with an extra kiddie in the house. It’s like you were in the womb, feeling the stress and thinking – when I get out of here, this won’t end. And you figured it out strategically – no pacifiers. No substitutes. Your refusal to ever take a bottle, sip from any variety of sippie cups, or drink from, you know what, any kind of cup at all – well, yeah. We have been attached for a lot of it.

I guess you’re getting away with a lot more than even Nettles did… younger siblings rights… But a whole bag of Bamba is a new low for me.

You’re taking what you can get. It’s a dog eat dog world, Zooey. Pat on the back for you.

 

 

 

Bebe update: six years

This is the year, Bebe. The year I start to feel the weight of what it is to raise a daughter.

There’s something about this year – kindergarten, the oldest of the gan years, first grade prep, heightened self awareness, heightened emotional intelligence, deeper self expression.

Taking more responsibility. Finding love in different places.

Volunteering to try new things. Speaking up.

Finding a sense of style. Preferences for patterns of your own design.

Giving of yourself. Thinking of others.

This is the year Bebe. You’re getting to be a bigger, bolder kid. You’re thinking things through. For better or worse, you’re aware of what’s going on around you – the good, the bad, the scary. The uncomfortable. You’ve figured out privacy. You’ve figured out whats makes a kid ‘in’ or ‘out’. You want to fit in. You want to be appreciated.

Just keep nurturing your ability to speak up. To speak against injustice. Learn when to step in. Learn when to step up. I will help you. It’s hard for me too. But this is the year, Bebe. So much learning and growing. You teach me every day, too.