Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Four Candles

Four years old. How did this happen?

There’s always this fear with the youngest child that you’re sort of missing them. It goes faster. There’s still wonder and little reflective moments, but they’re fewer and farther between in our faster-paced, schedule-driven life. Not much time is spent just sitting and gazing anymore. There aren’t as may firsts. There’s still amazement, but it doesn’t command the attention it once did.

Especially this year. Little Girl’s got a real Sixteen Candles thing going on, between her brother’s recent Aspergers diagnosis and some home improvement absurdities (more on that in a future post). We usually plan our birthday parties weeks in advance, including a delightful trip to Display & Costume to lovingly pick out the favors and napkins. Not this year. I don’t have a cake planned. I haven’t even bought her a present! I guess we’ll still find time to do all that, but still. Can’t help but feel a little guilty, being so preoccupied with all this other stuff as my sparkling girl turns four.

Despite our best efforts, she’s lived a fair amount of her life in big brother land. The first princess she knew about was Princess Leia. Baby’s First Laugh happened when he accidentally threw a beach ball in her face. One of Baby’s First Words was “Dine!” – thanks to her brother’s love of dinosaurs. She’d even try to say the actual dinosaur names: “Da-BILL-a-dot!” Potty talk, sass back, and Santa agnosticism all started at an earlier age for her. But man, you should have seen her hold her own that first year in preschool.

She’s been a prominent force in The Boy’s life, too. These last few months, something’s really clicked with them and they’ve become such friends all of a sudden. They act out Pokémon and Captain Underpants (there’s that big brother influence again). But he’s been known to play “hairstyle” with her, too. He reads to her. They build forts. They crack each other up.

It’s a beautiful thing to see unfolding – every bit as beautiful and wondrous as the baby gazing of yesteryear. But now, instead of languidly pondering the velvety eyelids of a sleeping infant, I’m overhearing snippets of priceless dialogue as I make dinner or drive them home from school or (yes) catch up on Facebook. It’s a less intentional kind of wonder. But it’s still there.

I love catching glimpses of her dancing to Imagination Movers in her car seat when she thinks I’m not looking. She’s got this great head-bob/finger-pointing move. I love overhearing her intricate imaginative games with her stuffed animals and Playmobil figures. All those different voices. She keeps changing their names. “Little Foal” becomes “Magical Glitter” becomes “Sugar Grape Pie.” I love her quirky love of florist catalogs and the recipe pages in magazines.

And I cautiously love her ever-increasing feistiness. I’m not sure, to be honest, if I’m ready to deal with the amount of feist that’s coming our way. But I’m glad for her. She’s going to need that strength and spirit.

Happy birthday, my big Little Girl.

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