our girls

Happy 4th Birthday, Katie!

Happy birthday, big girl. When you were three (yesterday) I could still pretend you were a baby. Now, like you say, you may be *my* baby, but you're not *a* baby. Four years is big. There's no denying it.

Yesterday you spent an hour playing baby with me. You fake cried and wanted to be cuddled. Your idea of what a baby is like is very unrealistic, but I didn't care. Any excuse to hold you. You're so active and independent, you don't always want me to hold you. Now when I hold you you pull away from me. If I squeeze you like I want to you say "ow!" even though I know it couldn't have hurt. It makes me a little sad when you pull away, but I'm also proud. You're growing up. As Barbara Kingsolver says, motherhood is the business of making ourselves obsolete. If we do a good job, we aren't needed anymore. I take solace in the realization that I still need my mom very much indeed.

This morning you woke me up with an excited whisper, "Mommy! I'm four!!" This is the first birthday you really understand. You are so excited about every little part. The one thing you asked for was a candle shaped like a four on your cake ("just like Naveen's"). You are very eager to have things that are the same. In the morning you hold up your bowl of cereal up to mine and say, "Same!" Your glee in sameness has motivated demons deep within me. They compelled me to buy you a hideous Cinderella dress (reversible!) that I know you will love. Because of these demons I won't even throw away the Barbie that Ejiro gave you.

And what is with all these older girls completely falling in love with you? Ejiro gave you a Barbie and a card. Sorcha made several presents for you including a paper basket filled with Mini Eggs. I won't be surprised if you finish the day with cards from Sade and Amena as well. Something about you in all your glorious you-ness makes the year 5 and 6 girls go all mushy.

I can see what they're on about. You've got miles of shiny curls, your grey-blue eyes (thank you, Daddy) are so stunning and beautifully framed by long lashes. Your brown skin (thank you, me) positively glows in the sunlight. As I've told you a zillion times, that all makes you merely pretty. To be beautiful, you also have to be a nice person. I guess you must be a very nice person, because all the aggressive girls in nursery have a soft spot for you. Miss Fry said you're a bit of a lion tamer and the rough girls just want to be sweet around you. They want you to like them.

You say you like everyone in your class, but I know this is a carefully measured statement. You don't like people immediately. You wait. You assess. Once you get to know someone, then you decide if you like them. Lucky for everyone, you usually decide to like them. Even if you don't like someone, you're willing to give them another chance. I find this absolutely astonishing. You didn't get this from Daddy or me. This is your own wonderful trait. We admire you so much for it.

Oh, and did I mention that you're brilliant? You've been reading anything and everything you can get your hands on since last October. You devour books and are getting bored of picture books. You like longer stories with more complicated plots. This makes me so happy, I can't stand it. We always tried to give you good books, but even "Katie and the Mona Lisa" begins to wear on the 200th read.

Daddy is teaching you maths and you love it. Now we ask you what's the biggest number in the world and you answer, "Googolplex!" You can count to 100 without missing a beat. You can add and subtract numbers as long as you've got enough fingers to count. I hope you know how amazing we think you are.

I am so emotional today. I wish I could say that your birth was the most wonderful day of my life. The fact that I got you was wonderful, but all the other stuff wasn't. I'll post your birthstory another time. Just know that whatever it took to get you here was worth it. I would do it a thousand times if I had to. The thing that cranks up my Mommy-guilt is that I don't think it was necessary. I think you went through a hell of a lot and didn't need to. I think that stupid vacuum and forceps delivery was a nightmare for you. I am so sorry. You seem to have recovered pretty well. I will always be sorry I couldn't give you the beautiful start to life that I wanted.

You are my Katie. My girl. I feel like you were made from my rib, carved from my arms. My love for you is so carnal, so intimate. It defies explanation (not that that will keep me from trying). Happy birthday, Katiekins. I love you a googolplex.

Mommy

Give it a name

Today is Buffy’s christening. No, her Christian name will not be Buffy. She has a nice, long, proper name – Elizabeth Olivia. Elizabeth after Andrew’s mother (who was known as Buff throughout childhood) and Olivia because 1. We like the name and, 2. Olivia Hussey is lovely as Zeffirelli's Juliet, which was on TV as we were discussing names. The UK and US governments already know her name and recognize it on their respective passports. Today, I suppose, we introduce her formally to God.

Afterwards, boat drinks!

A Cinderella Story

So that ridiculously frilly party dress I bought for Katie? I hate it. It's everything I hate - cheap, poorly made, branded (worst of worst, it's Disney). I can't believe I bought it. These were my reasons for getting it:
1. Katie loves Cinderella to the extent of renaming all her toys Cinderella.
2. Katie's friend Armande has the same dress. Katie wears it every time we go over to their house.
3. Katie looks beautiful in it.
4. If I gave it to her, she would love me forever and think I was an Awesome Mom.
5. I want to be an Awesome Mom.

Here are my reasons for taking it back to the shop:
1. I hate Disney and all things Disneyana.
2. A couple of weeks ago Katie told me her hair wasn't beautiful because it wasn't blonde. As if! I don't want to surround her with Barbie and Cinderella and perpetuate that myth.
3. I would rather get her a beautiful dress she can wear for Easter and other nice occasions.

After several phone calls to stores to see what they could do by Monday, I decided to buy her this long fairy tutu. I called the lady and she said it would definitely be here by Monday in plenty of time to get wrapped. The second before I hit "send" I thought I should probably go check the dreadful Cinderella dress one last time. Just to be sure it was as hideous as I knew it was.

You know what? It's fine. It's not crappy material. The design is verging on not terrible. There is that thing about Katie looking beautiful in it. Oh yeah, and I do want to be an Awesome Mom. That's it. Cinderella stays. Pictures to come after Monday's celebrations.

Katie's Ballet Recital

Yesterday Gramma, Buffy and I hoofed it up the hill early to see Katie's lunchtime ballet recital. Nearly all the girls from her class go to ballet on Mondays, so it was a big group. Miss Fry even came to watch. The girls did naughty toes and good toes, they ran around like horses and stopped WHOA!!, they jumped, hopped, and skipped. They even took an imaginary trip to the beach. Miss Caroline asked what they each saw at the beach. Most saw their parents or Cinderella. Katie saw princesses. Another girl, whose behaviour has worried us all year, saw nothing at all. Very sad to go all the way to the beach and see nothing.

Katie was a superstar. She even fell flat on her face spectacularly. Obviously I wasn't overly concerned since there is a picture of the fall in the gallery. My goodness did Katie milk that one for attention, though. She had a crowd of many all concerned for her (and probably concerned about her terrible mother who was more interested in taking pictures than comforting poor Katie).

After the recital we left Katie at school and went out for lunch in the village. It was lovely, Buffy was lovely, all was right in the world. We pottered around the village for a little while until it was time to go get Katie. Big Girl Katie then managed to walk all the way home without a single complaint. She got a chocolate chip cookie AND a dancing fairy doll for her spectacular day. (We just hope she doesn't break the wings off this one like she did her last post-recital present.)

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