In celebration of your second year of life, if not your actual birthday, some thoughts.
There is so much to say about you and who you've become, how do you put it all in one letter, one page, one anything?
What I know is that you are a delight, just as you've been since the day we knew you would be a part of our family. You've been through an awful lot this year, things that could keep just about anyone down, but you've emerged from all the itching, the food restrictions, and the rounds of doctor visits with a winning personality, a real ability to connect with other people, and with the world at large, a sense of humor and air of joy that sparkles right out of those eyes, those blue blue eyes.
"I thought my little girl smiled a lot, but man. She has an amazing smile. She just grins through the whole class. Has she always been like that?"
The dad in your music class asked me this question last week, and I immediately answered, "Oh yes, she's always been my happy baby."
Maybe it's not exactly true that you were always happy. I look at photos of you during that rough patch in the winter and spring before we got a handle on the itching and the swelling preceding your allergy diagnosis and it is clear that at least some of the anxiety I felt got transferred to you. It was the not knowing how to help you that was hardest on us all. Now, that we have clear answers, and plans for treating you, it seems the only restrictions on your enjoyment of life are the few foods you can't eat.
I watch you slide face first down a slide on the playground just for the pure joy of it, chase after your brother and the other big kids in tumbling class as fast as your feet can run down the tumble track and jump with NO fear off the end into the big padded "pool." I watch you clap your hands and twirl, and sit right in the middle of the story blanket at music class. I watch you laugh with abandon as you make some funny motion that will delight your brother. I can hardly remember a time when you weren't this delighted with life on a regular basis.
You are so much more willing to engage with new situations than your brother ever was, and I love the way you participate in life with so little anxiety. I wouldn't call you gregarious, as you still have to check to see if I am close by, and come back over for some "up" time in my arms after you dance, wave hello to a potential new friend, or show off your newest "Shortcake" doll.
In the last month or so, you've started to speak in phrases. You've always been good at communicating, though you were slow to use actual words to do so. Facial expressions, gestures, and just grabbing my hand and taking me where you wanted to go worked quite well for you for a good long time. So it still takes me by surprise at times when I realize that I'm actually having conversations with you, not just interpreting your body language. I tuck you into your bed at night, and you give me instructions:
"Monkey night night." (Put my stuffed Curious George next to me and cover us both up with a blanket)
"Cowie tummy." (Now put that giant stuffed horse right on top of me, on my tummy.)
"Dove Ew, Mommy. Munning." (Love you Mommy. See you in the morning)
And then in the morning, when you wake up, and I go to get you up, you greet me with:
"Hi Mommy, hi. Munning." I get the distinct impression that nothing could thrill you more than to see me, and I don't think I have to tell you how amazing THAT feels.
Oh, you are not all sweetness and light, not all sugar and spice and everything nice. I don't know whose little girls are made of all that. No, you're pretty darn demanding, and have the shriek to prove it. The facial expressions and gestures still go a long way in this regard. Yesterday, you shot me the evil eye right out from underneath your eyebrows. Also, when you recovered the princess book your dad and I told you was missing (we really didn't know where it was!) from underneath the coffee table, your dad tells me the look of 'how-dare-you' triumph on your face was unmistakable. And if something is smelly, or messy, or otherwise potentially off-putting, you loudly proclaim "Ewwww. Dohhss!" with a definite crinkle of the nose.
You are a girl, there is no mistaking that. Ponies, Strawberry Shortcake, stickers, stuffed animals, and babies, always the babies. These are your favorite things, and you actually play with them on your own. You fill up your purse, ask for crayons to color in your Little People book (Girl. Girl.), then make me tea and plastic hot dog soup. And then, because you are lucky enough to have a big brother, you go pile up some dinosaurs and cram as many marbles and bouncy balls as you can in your purse on top of the ponies and hair bows.
O is still your very best friend, and you are missing him when he's at school, so much so that you often squeal and run to hug him when he comes out of his classroom at the end of his day. But it is clear you are loving having some time on your own, for you and I to go to the grocery store together, sit at the table and play with playdoh, or just snuggle in a chair and eat dry cereal out of a cup.
I am so glad I get to be your mom.
Happy Belated Birthday, sweet girl.