Saturday, April 16, 2011

April 16, 2011 ~ Day 128
Mommy's Little Angel

Yesterday afternoon I put my daughter down for a nap. About an hour later I happened to be passing through the hallway near to her room and heard stirrings. "Wow, I guess she's up already," I thought, and went to get her.

To my surprise when I came into her room, she was seated in the middle of a sea of now-opened colorful plastic eggs which had been given to her elder brothers by their grandmother a week ago. She had cracked open nearly every egg and the floor around her was littered with silver foil wrappers. Apparently she had known something that I did not... these eggs contained chocolate and peppermint candies.

"Oh honey," I exclaimed. "Did you eat all of your brothers' Easter candy from grandma?"

She giggled and gave me a big, chocolatey grin.

I bent down and began to put the plastic egg shells back into the bag from whence they'd come, counting wrappers as I went. All told, I counted twelve.

"Sweet girl," I sighed. "Did you really just eat twelve chocolate candies?"

Just then her biggest brother came into the room, took one look at the mess on the ground, and began to cry.

"Can you please tell your brother that you're sorry you ate all of his special candy?"

She looked us both right in the eye and grinned. "Nope."

Thinking she might not have understood me, I asked again. "Honey, please say sorry."

"Nope." She giggled uproariously.


So this is Life with Sister lately and as adorable as she is, I think our road is wending uphill.

My daughter is 23 months old, just about ready to hit the twos. With the sons, the twos were actually very easy compared to the threes and fours. However, I think little girls may be different. I know for a fact that girls acquire language in two parts of the brain while boys acquire it in only one part; so maybe she's just a little precocious.

One way or another, it looks like her special variety of TWO is about to take our breath away.

Within the last week or two, she has figured out that if you drag a chair or stepstool over to a high surface (e.g. counter top, mantle, bookcase, dresser) you can double your own height and ability to reach dangerous things.

This has led us to such delightful moments as disarming her from both a pair of scissors and a steak knife (cutting block has been moved and is now well hidden from her view and reach), retrieving her Daddy's eye drops quickly before she drank them, rescuing her from the lid of the grand piano where she'd been trying to reach a toy, and perhaps more than anything discovering her (almost daily) mid-theft with sizable quantities of food in her grubby little palms. Lots and lots of sneaky snacks. The girl is clearly led by her stomach. She could probably eat eight meals a day.

She's also begun to copy some of her brothers' less desirable moves... like hitting them when she is angry. Or shoving them back when they hurt her.

I'm working hard to curtail this behavior in all of the children, but I have to admit that when it comes to her, there is a small part of me very proud and glad that she's no "mild-mannered wallflower" as my mother would say. Far from it!

This delicate, once-premature daughter sees nothing wrong with standing up for herself around the guys, whether with her words or her fists. I prefer words but, given all of the bad things that have the potential to befall women in their lives, I want to raise a female that is fearless and strong, willing and able to defend herself if or when the need ever arises. So, while it is crucial that we teach her how to resolve problems through communication and nonviolent action... I want her to know that sometimes nice girls DO fight back.

Whenever my mother or sister see her they say she is a mini-me. I don't see it, I think she looks just like her dad's side of the family. Either way, she is elfishly cute but very sturdy, with the most adorable pot belly. She's extremely tall for her age (95th percentile at last check) with wispy curling hair and a 100watt smile.

As her personality continues to emerge, I find myself loving her even more than I already did.

It's easy to feel a surge of warmth and affection for a precious, vulnerable little baby. She's always been a sweet thing, and especially with her rough start into the world my husband and I have always harbored a very soft spot for her in our hearts.

However she's grown a lot in the last two years and I find that this spunky little girl is really lighting me up with her intelligent, enthusiastic, loving, naughty ways. She'll comfort any owie... "Mama, ooo OK? Mama OK. Mama OK," and runs to give hugs and kisses to the injured. She's becoming a dedicated artist and will sit with crayons for hours quietly working on paper after paper.

She routinely eats dirt in the back yard, sand at the beach, and any other mineral-filled item she can source from the yard or house when we're not looking.

She carries her "babies" around the house and has taken to cuddling with one particular blue blanket, something her brothers never did. She tries to help clean and cook and is constantly underfoot whenever I am in the kitchen, wanting to participate. I'm really hoping to get her a play kitchen for her 2nd birthday, she seems much more into domestic play than her brothers were.

If we come upon a group of adults when entering or exiting our car in a parking lot, walking into a store, waiting to pick up my son from school - anywhere - she will make eye contact with one of them, smile hugely, wave and say "Hi!" until they smile back and talk to her. She announces her presence wherever she goes.

All in all, having a daughter is putting a totally new spin on parenting - or at least a unique variation on the theme.

I want the best in life for all of my children. By this I mean, I want them to grow up stable, balanced, self-reliant human beings who can take care of themselves and find joy in the process. My hopes for them are vast, but not in a materialistic way. I hope that they will be healthy, capable of loving and receiving love, responsible, kind, compassionate, humble and honest. I pray that my children grow to have integrity, and that they live according to the philosophy that all people everywhere are born equal and deserving of respect.

There are just a few things though that I want for my daughter, which differ from my hopes for the boys.

Whether she turns out to be a tomboy or a frilly little princess or some wonderful cross between the two, I hope that my daughter will learn how to communicate clearly and warmly - even confidently. Women need to be able to speak for themselves in this world, and to speak for other women and children who cannot.

I hope she'll inherit my mother's fiscal sensibility, my grandmother's work ethic, my husband's mother's genius in the kitchen, my sister's love of crafts, my other grandmother's love of music. I hope she'll inherit my own lust for life.

I pray that she becomes a good and caring friend - loyal and reliable - someone that reaches out to others and is there for them. I pray this because I want her to benefit from the deep joy of friendship between women, which is one of life's greatest treasures. There are a few women I've come across in my lifetime that for whatever reason, other women don't like so much... a woman who would actively go after another man's husband, for example. It would make me very sad if my daughter ended up scorned by other women, deprived of their nurturing, loyalty and love.

I've benefited too much in the last 35 years from my profound relationships with other women not to wish that joy for my own daughter. I love my husband vastly but he doesn't fill the place in my heart uniquely reserved for the friends who have laughed, danced, cooked, traveled, chatted, inspired, supported, connected with and comforted me throughout most of my life.

There is a special role that only women can fill in another woman's life. I think my Mother's group leader hit it on the head yesterday when she asked a room full of 45 women from their early 20s to late 60s "Who here wishes they had someone to mother them?" Nearly every hand in the room went up!

Women uniquely nurture other women in a way that is not instinctive to men. It isn't better, it's just different. I hope she will get the chance to experience real friendship and camaraderie with other women.

People tell me that one day, my daughter and I will be the best of friends. I don't know if this is true, and I don't think it is fair for anyone to place that kind of expectation on her. So far my daughter evidences a strong attachment to her daddy, and I think that's pretty wonderful. She's lucky to have a gentle, loyal, loving father to look up to - and he's lucky to have such a sparkly, affectionate little girl.

Whether we end up the kind of mom and daughter that spend a lot of time together or she ends up calling me once a year on Christmas, I am so proud of my daughter! She has a strong, independent spirit and a mouth full of chocolate. May life in all of its unpredictability keep her zesty spirit and innate kindness intact.

The world can use a vibrant, welcoming personality like hers.

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