Wednesday, September 24, 2008
To Sydney, On the Occasion of Your 3rd Birthday
You, my love, are a wonder to behold. Your Dad often remarks that you are "super," and I think that really sums it up--the force of your personality, the extent of your kindness, the extraordinariness of your being. You've grown so much in the past year that I am at a loss to describe and document all of the changes, so I'll just start by listing the things you like, which are many and varied and sometimes wonderfully surprising.
You love to play. All kids love to play, of course, but the quality of your play is so imaginative, so exhilarated, that it is a thrill to watch you. You're a leader on the playground, the creator of scenarios, the referee of your own narratives. A favorite these days is Big Bad Wolf--a game, as far as I can tell, that mostly involves running around screaming "big bag wolf!" at the top of your lungs. The other kids follow along with dutiful enthusiasm. Another favorite game which you recently invented, and which is mainly played at home, is something you call "Halloween," in which you load up your plastic cart with every toy and baby doll that will fit and, with Mommy in tow, trot from corner to corner, collecting "trick or treats" from imaginary neighbors.You are clearly practicing for the big night and I just hope you don't burn out before it's actually here.
You love your baby dolls, of which you have many. They are a source of comfort when you are distressed, but you also love to take care of them: you feed them, dress (and undress) them, walk them in their strollers, put them down for naps, fetch their blankets and put them in Time Out when they act up. A few of your favorites are Papa Baby, Baby Nu-Nu, Blue Baby, The Twins, and the plush Eeyore that Grandma bought you at Disney last Christmas. I used to fret about dolls, wondering if I somehow, subconsciously--despite my rejection of tradition gender roles--pushed them on you, but now I understand this to be a beautiful and natural extension of your personality, your love of life, your natural kindness and compassion.
You love to read. This makes Mommy and Daddy very happy, of course, but you do seem to come by it honestly. You lose yourself in a good book, as every bibliophile does, and pepper the reading of every story with questions. Why did so-and-so do that? What is going to happen next? Why does that boy look angry/sad/happy? Or, as you often ask: Where is so-and-so's Mommy? (Dad tries to make you wait until the end of the page to ask your questions, but I think he's fighting a losing battle.) A few weeks ago we took you to the public library for the first time, and you got your very own library card--something I hope you will use often and with much enthusiasm over the course of your lifetime.
You are a WONDERFUL big sister to Evan. You are very protective of him and are quick to inform everyone who seems curious that they make look but not touch. When Evan cries, you say "Mommy, your baby wants milk." If Mommy can't get to him right away you lay down next to him and pat his belly, or sing to him, or assure him that "It's okay, Mommy's coming." You have been so generous with our love, with our time, with our attention, which just a few weeks ago you had all to yourself. Evan is a lucky boy to have you in his life.
This has been a hard year for you, in some ways. Mommy's pregnancy caused you some anxiety, but you have emerged from your struggles with a new kind of confidence and security, a steadily increasing sense of self that I now understand is my job to nurture, to protect, to pay close attention to throughout the coming years. I can only promise to do my best. I have a feeling you'll let me know if I slip up.
It is a gorgeous day today, unseasonably mild and cloudless--a perfect day to celebrate your birth, the person you've become, all the manifestations of you we will have the privilege to witness. I am so lucky to be your mother, to share in your experience. We love you so much, Sydney, and I hope you carry that love out into the world every day, for the rest of your life.