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.”

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.

Nettles update: three years

There are three things I know to be true:

  1. There are types of self confidence that cannot be bought or therapy’d into you.
  2. A kid who is comfortable being choosy about cake is going places.
  3. This is going to be one hell of a year.

So here we go.

The hills are alive… with the giggles of Nettles…

And where dresses are worn, all the time – to gan, to bed. The dress phase. I know you.

We’ve really gotten to know Nettles, the younger sister. The younger sister who looks up to her older sister as her dear leader, her mentor, her worldview.

We’ve also come to know Nettles, the older sister. The mistress of torture, the distributor of aggressive hugs, the doting cartoon character who squeezes her beloved puppy too hard.

And for a while we’ve been very familiar with Nettles, the tag-along. The one who wants her fair share but then destroys it because really, none of this matters anyway, amirite guys? Guys??

The Nettles who gets ‘er done. The Nettles who doesn’t cry over spilled milk. Nettles doesn’t even see the spilled milk. Nettles pushes forth and gets what she wants. Which is disgustingly limp cornflakes.

Oh hey, Ima, look – milk!

One hell of a year, Nettles. Keep on moving.

Zooey update: eleven months

(See? I told you I’d be up in your face making you crazy-laugh again…)

The sun and warmth and faint smell of spring have started to creep up around us and so your winter sniffles and spotty sleep schedule have started to melt away. Literally, right now, we’re on the floor together, you’re up on your knees, grabbing me by the collar, getting in my face and smile-saying “Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!” as if something hilarious is on my forehead.

This month you’ve really woken up from a wintry infant slumber. You’re finding things funny but also making things funny. You’re paying attention and grabbing attention. You’re speaking non-stop (did you actually tell me ‘toda’ yesterday after I gave you something?).

There’s a cautious curiosity about you, but you’re not stopped by fear. You also know what you want (and most of the time, it’s to get out of whoever the hell thinks they’re cuddling you and back into my arms). You’re clear, you’re focused, you’ll make yourself heard.

Meanwhile, the calaniyot are not safe around you (and neither are the crumbs on the floor from being consumed, my skin from being lovingly pinched, anything your siblings own from being destroyed).

As befitting a bilingual baby, you’re reaching a little higher than you need to. A little more to figure out in the world.

And of course, curiosity has fully set in; not like I’m at all surprised.

Zooey update: ten months

There are months when I take a million and a half pictures of you, where I’m up in your face covering you in kisses, where I tickle torture you until you snort. Zooey this was not one of those months because there’s so much going on. But I’ve missed you during late nights at work and the good thing is I’ve done this enough to know it’ll end and the month will go on and you’ll be snorting in laughter because of me soon again.