Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Lillian

Dear Lillian,

For bloggers who often write about their children, I have committed one of the cardinal sins of the blogworld.

Your birthday passed, without the ubiquitous letter I was supposed to post. I kept meaning to sit down, and it was certainly on my to-do list, but I had two tests in the span of a week, out-of-town guests and a party to plan, lots of things to bake and cook. It fell by the wayside.

Well, that, and every time I considered how to begin, I kept coming up with things like:

To my beautiful demon, or

Dear Child-Who-Keeps-Waking-Me-Up-At-4:30am-To-Use-The-Bathroom, or

Dear Lily, You're getting a little bit nicer these days, or

Birthday Girl, I'm almost over the PTSD brought on by your infancy.

And then I was like, birthday letters are supposed to be nice and lovely and filled with flowery language singing the praises of one's child. Not a run-down of all the things you were supposed to outgrow after turning 4.

But listen, I don't think there's any crime in telling the world that you're still a...challenge. You have been from the get-go. Most kids are, in their own unique snowflake kind of way.

Our chief priority is getting you to understand the world is a better place if we're all not assholes to each other. This includes trying to get you to realize you shouldn't close your sister's arm in the car door, or draw on her pictures, call her a poop poop, or throw things at her. I mean, I know she's not perfect either, but I'm estimating the bad behavior is really about 80/20, and guess who's the 80?

It's completely not easy being 5: having snacks brought to you, school days involving paint and glitter and dry-erase boards, watching Curious George and going to friends' houses to occupy afternoons.

(Wait a second, that sounds amazingly easy AND magical. It's a world I want to inhabit, now.)

But I have seen some improvements. You're at least willing to entertain logic. If I give you the chance, you'll often make the right decisions. You apologize more willingly for your infractions these days, and somehow you're sticking to your decision to be a vegetarian despite having one day that was full of bacon. That one is difficult for you. You love animals and want to protect them, so why do they taste good? It's a question I'm unable to answer for you, love.

God knows, you keep me all kinds of entertained.

The night before your party, we were all watching a stand-up routine by Jim Gaffigan on Comedy Central. It was generally kid-friendly, and you and Hannah enjoyed the bit about camping, and how crazy the entire concept is. Listening to you both laugh at his mannerisms and inflections killed me. On the way up the stairs to bed, you tried out your own routine on me, borrowing heavily from the material you'd just heard, and trying your best to mimic his every blank look and perplexed affectation. It's funny how sometimes you crave an audience. That's your personality: song, dance, comic bit, you like to have people's attention.

Except when you don't. Like when people sing Happy Birthday to you. I had to hold you for this year's song. One day, I believe, my children will be able to hear that tune without crying.

Lillian, I give you a hard time. And you give me a hard time. But I love you and couldn't live a day without you. (Well, maybe a day or two, provided you were hanging with your grandparents. I'd try that.)

You really are so special, and I know one day your creativity and assertiveness will suit you well, and turn you into a kick-ass woman.

Happy 5th Birthday, belatedly, on the blogosphere, to my girl.

Love, Mama


Anonymous said...

i love this. thanks for writing. you, my friend, have a gift. thank you for sharing it. i always learn a little bit more about me by reading about you. :)

Captain Dumbass said...

"Dear Lily, You're getting a little bit nicer these days." That was my favourite. My five year old sounds frighteningly similar to yours, except for him being a boy and all. I'm sure it will get better, right?

It has to.

MemeGRL said...

I could have written either of the first two comments. Thank you so much for this. I love it.

Rima said...

Word on the street is that 5 really starts to get her act together, oozing selflessness and mirth. Seriously.

Happy belated, Lillian!

Monica said...

I loved this birthday post. (I just missed a few myself.) And she sounds much like my 4 year old. With 5 kids, the bad behavior breakdown is about 75/10/5/5/5, and guess whose the 75? The other kids call her the terrorist. Everyone now and then, I think she's getting a little bit nicer...and then she doesn't. Maybe I have to wait until 5...

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday!!! Wishing you a year full of happy times that become treasured memories.

Here's my experience: My 8 year old is still a really difficult person. Her behavior is still a pain in the ass to have to deal with, but at least now I am vindicated. It wasn't "me" (i.e., lousy parenting) when she was a baby and a toddler: it was (and is) her personality.

Mayberry said...

I always feel so much pressure to write the perfect birthday post about my kids (and on two consecutive days, to boot!). This one is perfect. I could totally see someecards coming out with the one about PTSD. Happy #5 Lillian!

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