It wasn’t just fun because you were a wobbly Bambi child while trying to walk on stilts, grasping me for dear life… clinging to me while we both laughed so hard from our bellies… cracking up as you’re falling forward right into my arms, hugging me tight, maybe longer and tighter than you needed to… it was a moment I won’t forget because every day that passes I expect I am getting closer to the day you won’t want to be seen holding your mom tight in public.
What a year, man.
This time last year I was terrified to break your heart, making the decision to change schools. You are a deep thinker and a deeper feeler… but somehow your intense curiosity got the better of any fear… open minded to trying new things, when they feel right… and here we are. You did it – new friends, while still excited about your old buddies. New interests, while still on the old ones (I’m sorry I will never understand what Ninjago is). I’m so so proud of you. Keep pushing yourself to grow. Keep pushing me to be better at helping you to grow. I love our honesty with each other, and I love that we work on each other.
Happy 9, Koala.
To my Goon… for your jokes that make us laugh whether we get them or not (keep workshopping), your knowing what you want (and getting stronger about asking for it), your self awareness, your basic instinct to share, to smile, to make others feel good about themselves, your honesty, your allergy to napkins and silverware, your living in the moment, your absolute need to feel everything and everyone, especially when that everything includes mud, beetles, muddier mud, homemade clay, and also mud.
This is cheekiness uprising. This is sound effects for every action. This is slapstick comedy. This is curiosity. This is telling dogs to go away. This is a love affair with a mosaic snail. This is finding the word ‘batata’ hilarious. This is pretend-nursing a baby. This is tormenting the younger sibling. This is torturing the older siblings. This is knowing when to make the funny face at exactly the right time. This is four.
This is Nettles.
There’s that point after the baby turns into a toddler and the toddler gets even a bit more toddlery that they are so delicious you could just eat them. And even if I haven’t quite gotten to the bottom of what is bothering you yet… I feel tension in you, Zooey… so while I’m busy trying to gobble you up daily, I’m also wondering what is the source and how it’s probably my fault. But you are growing out of a shell, or a cocoon, because every day you are finding new things to touch and watch and wonder at. So keep at it Zooey and I’ll keep eating you and we’ll sort it out.
You give kisses now! I love that! The little pwaa! of your tiny lips. Especially when the aim is off.
You’re still sparse on words – what do you wanna say, Zooey? You can tell me… or Big Bird, we’re into Sesame Street now…
I mean, I love the faces you make – you’re speaking with your eyes, with your little button nose, with your shoving to get in the center, make sure you get yours along with the other kids.
But maybe we can both try something for the next few weeks… deep breathing, letting go, saying what we need and what we want and what we don’t want, as hard as that can be at times.
You’re just one of the girls, Zooey.
You’re thing now is part de-planed flight attendant, part big kid going to school – rolling around Nettles’ backpack (especially convenient because she doesn’t want to, and, um, between us – you’re being kinda used… but there’s time to work that out…).
You pick it up in the morning and hand it back as you walk into your gan… and on pickup, it’s the first thing to run and hug – although, sometimes Nettles or I get one before the bag does.
I suppose I should have seen it coming, but hair is kind of a big deal in our house these days. Your older sisters are having a ball of it (or making balls of it… who knew kids needed to be taught to brush their own hair?!) and you are right there beside them, soaking it in – from the conditioner to the braids to the headbands.
I may not be as great at providing you with the kind of entertainment I did for your oldest siblings, but you do have them around to look out for you… and make sure you get what they got… guess I did something right…
Fire and doughnuts. What more do you need?
You really love Chanukah.
At first you were all, huh? What? I’m supposed to eat this? Naaah. Really? Just eat it? This? Uh… I guess…
Oooooh, I get it.
And you wanted so badly to light the candles yourself… which, you know, you nearly did, as much as I could push the limit on fire safety with a twenty month old…
In gan, on the playground, in a new place… you’re curious… and cautious. A combination we know well; but you have your own spin.
You’re getting involved, letting us know in your own way that this is something you want to do (or this is something you don’t want to do) and we hear you loud and clear, even if it’s not with the same words.