Just after 3am, you'll have been living and breathing for five years. Well, breathing successfully took a bit longer. But that means that at this time five years ago, I was at 33rd street bistro having breakfast. My water had broken already, but I had been turned away from the hospital. You were already three days overdue, and I thought we would have you on Spring Break, but that week had come and gone. This was my first day of already-scheduled maternity leave, so I wasn't going to work. It was a quiet morning. All hell broke loose later, when I had a doctor's appointment and he insisted I go directly to the hospital and be induced.
It's amazing to think that so much time has elapsed. You have now been part of your father's and my lives for longer than you haven't (by which I mean, your dad and I had been together for just less than five years when we had you). In a few months, you'll be in kindergarten -- you're already enrolled -- and you'll be in the care of a teacher for 3 1/2 hours a day. It is shocking, and yet perfectly natural. You're my baby, and yet you are your own quite independent little person. Let me tell you a little bit about yourself right now.
You can read pretty well, although you're not much interested in reading stories to yourself. But as we drive along the street, you yell out "Shell!" "Pets!" "Tacos! Hey, can we stop there? They have tacos." Today you read several things in the program at the ballet. You play with language a lot, too, switching up sounds and things to make puns that are occasionally not bad.
You love camping, hiking, and the outdoors a lot. I offered to take you to Effie Yeaw nature center for a walk on your birthday, and you wouldn't even hear of other suggestions after that. Your artwork is getting much more recognizable. It's generally obvious now if you've made a flower or a tree or a bee. You still like to pretend, but it's not as constant an undertaking as it once was. Maybe six months ago, if I forgot for a second that I was Mary Ingalls and you were Laura, I would be soundly yelled at. Now, we pretend a few times a week.
You've finished The Hobbit and the first two Lord of the Rings books. You're nearing the end of the third. In the meantime, we've also read some longer chapter books, like The Wizard of Dark Street. We just started The Cats of Tanglewood Forest.
You're still not a good sleeper. I have done everything I can think of -- blackout curtains, a white noise machine, no TV right before bedtime, a bedtime routine -- and although the melatonin we've started helps you get to sleep at bedtime, you still often wake in the night. I have to chalk it up to an essential part of your nature. You're just energetic, kinetic, and wiggly.
You like TV, but not so much that I'm worried about you turning into a Roald Dahl character. We limit it to about an hour and ten minutes per day (including iPad time, although sometimes we push it a little), and there are times when you really wish time wasn't up. But then there are also days when you never ask to watch and we don't remind you, so you don't watch any at all.
A few people were commenting on how much you loved your dresses and high heels. You were indeed VERY excited to get high heeled shoes for your birthday (I have said no, but your grandma asked if she could buy you some, and I said it was fine). It's true that you like those things, but I appreciate that you're not a super-girly-girl, either. You like science a lot, and bugs, and roughhousing. I think you're a pretty well-balanced kid.
Sometimes you're a challenge. Like, seriously. You believe anything can be argued, and you argue semantics constantly. "We've told you a hundred times not to throw things in the house!" "But I didn't throw it. I tossed it." You also have no idea that you don't have the authority and standing to make your own rules, or that your parents can totally tell you what to do. If you had been raised by other people in another era, you'd have been smacked in the mouth on thousands of occasions. Every time we ask you, in serious voice, to do or not do something, you continue to do your own thing while reasoning it out, "Well, actually..."
As far as day to day stuff goes, you wear lots of different kinds of clothes, many dresses, jeans, leggings... Your favorite dress is probably your plaid Christmas dress, so I just let you wear it whenever. It'll be too small my next year, so I don't care if you destroy it by wearing it to the park. You will eat almost anything as long as there is no hint whatsoever of spiciness. You are terrified of spicy! Even mint gum is a little much for you. Other than that, though, you'll eat Mexican, Indian, Vietnamese... your favorite is still noodles, though. You initially requested the Old Spaghetti Factory as your birthday dinner, but then realized you could request Roxy, so you had a steak for your birthday.
Your best friend is Damien. He lives across the street from McKinley Park, and you've been in pre-school with him for two years. You both say you want to marry each other, and when you see each other after a few days apart, you usually run to each other, arms out, yelling each other's names. When parting, you frequently yell, "I love you." Both of you do. It's sweet as hell, and just a little terrifying. Next year, you won't go to the same school. I'm hoping we can still find time to meet his family for playdates, but I'm sure you'll drift apart and find new friends, too.
You're in karate, and sometimes you try really hard and show an aptitude for it. I also sometimes hear you thinking things out a a very positive, martial-arts way. We talk a lot about "emptying your cup," which is how your teacher, Mr. Oliver, describes letting things in your mind go. Other times, you declare that you hate karate and want to quit. I think you're bummed out that you haven't progressed at getting the belts as quickly as some of your friends, but it has to do with the wiggly silliness that's a pretty much constant presence in your life. You don't get a stripe on your belt if you don't behave in class, and it's a real effort for you to behave all the way through class. But I think it's good for you overall, and I'm going to press you to stay in it for a while.
Well, I've written this in fits and spurts all day, and it's now almost 7pm. Five years ago today, we had arrived at the hospital and I think I was having my last bite of food before they induced labor. I do lots of things in the few quiet moments between when you need me and need me again. I don't mind it, because the day will come when you don't really need me at all, and that will be the proudest and saddest day of my life. And there probably won't even be a candle to blow out. It will happen gradually, and neither of us may even ever notice. You'll probably think you'll always need me. But we've been talking a lot about the difference between wants and needs, and if I do my job, you'll just want me sometimes. I hope.