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Saturday, February 7, 2009

A birthday for my daughter.

Dear Olivia,
You just turned six years old this week. You bring us so much joy it's hard to imagine a time when you weren't a part of our lives. Your zest for life, your exuberance and enthusiasm for absolutely everything -- it's endearing, relentless, and contagious.

Two days ago, the day of your birthday, you got off the school bus and scampered up to the house through the snow, wearing a birthday crown and so excited about your day. "Do you have a surprise party waiting for me!?" Well, I have no idea where that idea came from. But then, I have no idea where most of your ideas come from. And I couldn't help but feel a pang of regret that I didn't, actually, have a houseful of people hiding inside just waiting to jump out and yell, "Surprise!" If anyone would appreciate such a show of celebration, it would be you.

I have often felt like the exact opposite kind of mom who would serve you best, so out of touch I am with all things hostess and crafty; and this creative, ebullient spirit you possess that often takes me so aback. You are the girl, after all, who impulsively declares at least once a week, "We're going to have a party!" whether it's for your little brother, or your daddy, or your favorite stuffed animal of the week. You busy yourself with making decorations and party hats, then parade around the house, "It's ready! It's time for the party!"

Our walls are covered with your drawings. John calls it Art Spam. It is everywhere, and it is constant. No room is sacred. Your only backstop is my not buying you a limitless supply of scotch tape. You go through about half a tree of printer paper every week, it seems. I do throw so much away, but it is relentless. And so much of it is for me, for your daddy, for your unappreciative brother ... what gets me are the ones saying, "I love you, mommy." With those I definitely cannot part, and they are stacked away in my nightstand. I do recognize that this, too, shall pass. Perhaps one day I will cull through them, but not now.

You possess an innate ability to express your feelings that never ceases to amaze me. It's amusing, and humbling. Your intuition is so finely tuned I have to remind myself that things don't slide by you easily as they always seemed to with your older brother. Your innocent and heartfelt, "That's okay, mom -- I know you're tired," catching me off-guard on more than one occasion at a vulnerable moment.

You lost your first tooth and couldn't believe your grand luck that the Tooth Fairy was going to come to your room! You were so excited to find the quarter under your pillow that I was near speechless when you immediately offered it to me. "Here, mom. You need this more than I do." It was so sincere that I couldn't turn it away.

You lost your second tooth a few weeks later. That quarter, you kept.

You are a total daddy's girl. You have him wrapped around your little finger and have totally played him more than once. Most nights since your little brother was born (unless daddy's away) the two of you snuggle up with your books, you now reading to him more often than not. You've always laughed at his silliness, even when he's being ornery and you can't really understand the humor. Like when he reads Laura Numeroff's "If You Give a Pig a Pancake," and your daddy makes up the next line to read, "He'll ask for some sausage to go with it. The End." Then promptly closes the book.

Or when he calls Dr. Seuss the Windbag and reads "Green Eggs and Ham" with its ad nauseam repetition. Instead of reading the old geezer character's entire response to Sam's, "Would you like them with a .... ?" John improvises with a simple, "No." Then turns to skip over an entire page while you giggle and exclaim, "Come on, daddy!"

Lately your little brother has developed a daddy kick of his own, after four years of being completely content with mom. This has led him to demand at bedtime, "No, I want daddy to read to me!" I act all hurt and pretend to suffer emotional distress that no one wants mommy and doesn't anyone want me to lie down with them anymore?

Sean-Peter expresses no remorse and carries on with his demands. You always come through to console me, often leaning against me or laying a soft arm on my shoulder, "I'll lie down with you, mommy." Like, don't worry. I get that you may be acting silly, but a part of you really does feel left out, so I'll make the sacrifice.

Your big brother still likes to repeat the phrase you coined, "You're breaking my heart into a million pieces!" He's even had his friends using it in that goofy, self-amusing, dorky way that middle schoolers have. It's one of those expressions that we will always remember and associate with a precocious little preschooler, running to her room with tears in her eyes, while we struggle (alas, often unsuccessfully) to hold in our laughter and take a little girl's very real feelings seriously.

The other day you casually remarked, totally out of the blue, as you are wont to do, "You love all of your children! And someday I will have children, and you will love them, too! Because that's how love works. It just grows and grows."

Aw, you are so right, Olivia.

Then, "...but you will still love me the most."

That's my girl.

It seems like yesterday you just turned five.And now you're six.I don't know if you'll always love to wear your dresses, and want me to braid your hair while it's wet so it'll be curly in the morning, or if you'll still try to sneak around wearing makeup. But I can't wait to find out.

My sister and her youngest son put together the cutest video ever wishing Olivia a happy birthday. It's very short -- go check it out.


Scott and Hannah said...

What a sweet story! I am not used to hearing stories about girls with all their drama, feelings, and emotions. I am used to "hey dad, wanna fight...I'll be batman!" (That is an Andrewism.)

Sure hope we can see you all soon. Kids grow so fast.

Love reading your blog. Tell Olivia Happy Birthday from her cousins!

Carmen said...

What a sweet post about a sweet girl. It made me cry. I can't decide exactly why, reasons could be many, but it did.

Tam said...

Where is the Tissue Warning! Before you do this again...write at the top TISSUE warning!!!

IT was great and sweet and amazing.

Anonymous said...

She and Ilsa would be great friends, in spite of the age difference. They are twin souls :)

Happy belated birthday, Olivia!

judy said...

Happy birthday, Olivia! Sorry this is late but we just got back from California. Did you know you have a bunch more cousins in CA you haven't even met yet?
You are looking so grown-up. I guess that's because you are growing up!

I wish I could have had you in my first grade class. You would have been my favorite. (Although teachers don't really have favorites)
Kisses and Hugs!

Jerilyn said...

Olivia, we just got home from California and read about you turning six! How well it describes what a fun, sweet girl you are. I was missing you a lot because there were cousins in California about your age and it made me think so much of you. Then I came home and read this and now I miss you even MORE. What am I going to do?! I guess I'll just have to come and see you after your school srping break. Would that be OK?

G'ma said...

What a beautiful and insightful tribute to Olivia's 6th bithday! I can hardly wait to meet her again. If memory serves me right she was just 7 months old the last time I saw her.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a beautiful note to your made me cry....hoping one day I too can so those things to my little girl!!! You are a wonderful mom...thank you for that!

Jolyn said...

Holy Schmokes, people! What's with the tears? I wasn't trying to make anyone cry; I was going for a little sentimentality more than poignancy... Thanks so much for the comments. I appreciate them more than you can ever know.

Hannah said...

I am popping over from Hannah Reaonser's blog and I just had to comment to say what a beautiful post that was. Such a joy to read about your daughter. I hope she had a wonderful birthday. So so so sweet. Thanks for the wonderful read - melted my heart. :)