Last year I started this list, and like with the Quail, I’ve decided to just add on to it rather than start from scratch. I love watching how things change and stay the same over time. I feel like it gives me a peek into the grown-up that is too soon to be!
1. your keen sense of fashion and explanations for what “matches”, your sense of style continues to make me grin. You’ve learned that “plain on top and colorful on the bottom” or the reverse is a good idea- but continue to point out where the patterns “match”. You are your own colorful flower Zuzu!
2. your ridiculously and suddenly rationale explanations for why we should do what you say, if anyone was born to be a U.N. Negotiator it is you dear one. You have an innate sense of fairness, and the need to be heard and explain what you did, said, felt.
3. the way you love to run and jump around in boy fashion dressed in all girl fashion, I think you’ve found your calling in gymnastics. We marvel at the strength, force and confidence of the big girls flying through the air as your sweet group huddles in its final “Being Together” circle each week. You also love dance. You are especially proud to be the oldest and most experienced dancer in your class this year. It’s earned you special, “helper” privileges as you inform Ms. Fain of the need for her special fairy flower wand and what she should do to celebrate your birthday!
4. your kindness to ones smaller than you, I see this in so many ways. If we are on a playdate, you are equally interested in the older and younger kids and happily point out, “Isn’t she cute, Momma!” with each new baby that joins our friends. You are learning to be a good friend to your Chula Cat, as you explain to me that she’s happy when she purrs, that she wants to be brushed or fed and that, “It’s time to back away now, Momma- she’s swatting at me again!” You also comb your playground for little pretties and what-nots forgotten by their owners that need a new home. Once a month or so we have to clean out your school cubby to return all the nuts,shells, flowers, leaves and pine-cones to the outside world.
5. your shyness in new situations, I see less of this these days. It’s mostly going into a new group that is already rowdy and going full-force. Mostly if we go to the park you seek out the other kids to ask them to play.
6. when you burst from that shy shell to put yourself out there and try to make friends, you so love having new and more kids around everywhere you go. Just this weekend we were out of town having lunch and you noticed kids at the next table and wanted to go over and introduce yourself. This is pretty typical with adults we run in to as we run our errands as well.
7. that you are a momma and daddy’s girl all rolled into one, you love your family so fiercely little girl. And we feel the same about you.
8. your ability to be thrilled at the tiniest event or errand, “Yay!!!! It’s home day!” “Yay, we’re going to the market!”, never mind the grandest! This is the first year you have talked non-stop about your birthday and what all you want to do- from pancakes in the morning to the way-up-high noodles at night, to a Unicorn Cake at your party. Every day is a treat to you dear one.
9. that you prefer french salt, english scones, donuts, kefir, whole-milk plain yogurt, Kashi cereal, prime rib, pink gelatos, cereal bars, gummies, pops (lollies), quesadilla and little trees to just about anything else. Your willingness to try to new foods is entering a new stage it seems. In the last few months you’ e been willing to trade out your nuggets for actual chicken and get the importance of trying what mom and dad are having. Your love of gummies is definitely fading, but never fear- the ever growing “candy bag” from all the treats you’ve gathered over the year at school is your first question at the end of the meal, “Momma do I get a treat for finishing my dinner?” Of course if you haven’t finished and I point that out, more often than not, that fact is met with a solemn nod and note that you don’t really need the candy treat.
10. your insistence that eating a popsicle will make any boo-boo better. Of course if a popsicle could just be offered first thing at any gathering that would make your day. Why people don’t have birthday popsicles rather than cake is beyond you. These days each boo-boo is quickly inspected for “blood” and the tiniest red mark means the need for a Hello Kitty! Bandaid and/or ice-pack.
11. your need to wear band-aids as body art, see above.
12. your love of all things ordinary: the park, the market, the library, school, the doctor and dentist, tubby-time and weeknight restaurant treats, week-days, weekends, season changes, upcoming holidays and celebrations, playdates and just playing with your sister, snuggling in the middle of the night.
13. that you and your sister have matching laughs, that she’s your best friend and between the two of you we hear your giggles as your roll down the hall or flop together on your bed, “monstering and rascaling” most days.
14. how you like to have your and your sister’s outfits match, how you try to convince the Quail to put on something similar to you even if we don’t have exact matches and how she sometimes scowls at it and other times we find you two running through the house giggling with fairy wands, “crowns” and bathrobes…
15. how easily you fell in love with the role of big sister, and ask on a routine basis for a new baby brother and sister or if Momma is growing you a new baby in her tummy. And when met with a denial for your simple request, you offer to have 10 or so of your own that we can all live together with in a little pink house and raise.
16. your funny interpretations of words like keep-saving, seat-cart, stister, Tomato Storm,
17. your strawberry blonde hair, that is fading fast. When I sit brushing your and your sister’s hair, I can see how much fairer hers is now. I see the undercolor of a brown developing, the soft wisp of fine hairs on your legs. The strong leg muscles as you bound about, the effortless height and thinning out. My baby is leaving us…
18. your knock-knock joke telling, story reading and brief but exuberant dance and singing recitals in our kitchen, now you type and spell out words, your drawings are taking the form of rainbows, flowers, turtles and smiley people. You spell the words you know and ask for help to write the ones you don’t. You try to sound out words in books- but in your exuberant way- the spaces between the letters seem to prevent the sounds from forming a word. It’s interesting to watch your pretend play develop. Most little girls your age are princess-minded. You dear, remain oh-so-practically minded. Your play involves, sisters, mothers, going to work going to market, class and teaching time, doctor when your sister will sit still long enough, going to the, couch, kitchen, library, bed, dining room-hospital to “have a baby”. “Momma pretend you have a baby in your tummy and you’re at the couch hospital and you didn’t know she was going to come out today” then after the explicit instructions are given on the response you need from us, you throw a blanket over whichever adult happens to be lying still, crawl under the covers and “birth yourself”, pretending you are a baby, a kitten, the little sister, a puppy. Pretty much anywhere you go, if we hand you two dolls you will immediately fall into a complicated pretend game that we will only occasionally hear parts of the storyline. You love to come “make a story” with mommy now, where you pick a picture and then make up a story to go with it. You let me know on a drive anywhere when you want to feel free and request the windows down, we drive a little faster and turn the radio up LOUD! You seem equally content to play by yourself or with your sister or take part if we are working on therapeutic activities with your sister- something as simple as color matching you want to take turns too. You are happy to demonstrate for your sister how to crawl, to jump, to color, to build with blocks or play baby-dolls. I love how as you think about your future you add to your list of goals- most recently, “ Momma I’m going to be a doctor/Momma/teacher/dance teacher/fairy/fire fighter/animal rescuer when I grow up! For all your practicalness though you maintain a firm sense of the wonder of magic and imagination. Last year we introduced “The Elf on the Shelf” to your world. You named him TJ and made up reasons for the mornings I forgot to move him before you got up. “Momma, Look- TJ likes that spot the best, he came back from the North Pole and picked that exact same spot!” You routinely throughout the year have pointed out your goodness and inquired if I thought TJ noticed and told Santa. On the other hand, when a particularly naughty episode happens, all I have to do is look out the window for you to burst into tears asking if TJ was going to tell Santa about that. Just the other day you had asked if TJ was “watching” on you and when I looked out the window and asked if those were elf eyes I just saw in the tree, you shook your head and laughed, “Silly momma, of course they were- that’s TJ!” You peek out and when you can’t see them inform me that he’s already headed back to the North Pole and continue muttering how silly I am as you go on with your play. Most of your day is spent in play and it is a wonder and a privilege to watch the inner workings of your dear mind.
19. your reminders of what a good girl you are! (Look, Momma: I don’t spill! I brushed my teeth! I pooped in the potty! I listened to my body! I listened to my teacher! I was a good friend! I colored on the paper! I didn’t have a fit! I remain grateful for this! You love a sticker chart for any activity, knowing a treat is on the end of a well-done errand and just generally letting me know how well you’ve done. You are such a good girl. Your intentions are so good and you so clearly want to do what’s right or expected of you. You do tend to want to know in much more detail why or how something is to be done- you don’t accept, “Because I said so” or just don’t or stop as instructions. You definitely challenge us, but not in a way that’s meant to be defiant. And if we mistakenly think so- you are the first to clarify, see 2.
20. your curious and kind nature, “see one, do one, teach one” is how you operate. You are a teacher by nature. This summer I come back to the perfect example of how your mind works. You’ve only had brief swimming lessons and we spent a little time at a pool this summer. There was a section of it that was 3 feet deep. You my dear in all your string-beanness- are well over this. As our family gathered in the pool, you clung to Lovey for dear life. You were tickled to get to play but didn’t want to be left alone. Excitement tinged with fear. After a few minutes of towing you around we spent some quiet time talking about how tall you are in terms of inches and how deep the water was. I tried in earnest to convince you that your head would not be below the water surface if I let go of you in this section, that you could stand on your own. A good 15 minutes later you agreed to just hold my hand and hesitantly, but with a grin on your face inched your way down the stairs. Once you saw your head would not go under your whole face lit up. We practiced walking back and forth in the 3 foot area and then pointed out where it got deeper and you would need help. After all of 5 minutes of walking back and forth, your whole focus switched and you became my “swim teacher” and took it upon yourself to explain in detail to me, your dad, your sister and anyone else who swam close by how you could touch the ground AND stay above water and how far out you could go by yourself. I laughed at the quintessential “Zuzuness” in that afternoon.
21. your exuberance, this year your dad and I coined the basic difference between you and your sister. She is mischievous. You are rambunctious. Together you are our heart’s rascally delight. Happy Birthday dear one. We love you endlessly…