Eggies for breakfast. Mm.
My Kids, 2011.
Last year, Scarlett wore a pair of reindeer foot-y pajamas for Christmas, and still having never tasted anything but breast milk, she filled them out perfectly. She was a wriggly, vocal infant with a wide, inviting grin, and dark, dark eyes I was sure, even after four months of refusing to change, would ultimately get it over with and just turn brown. They are still as blue as they ever were.
This year was a difficult one for me to look back on because I knew that it meant thumbing through photographs of a time when she was frail and unhealthy -- which until now I have not been able to stomach without feeling sick and having to turn away. I can openly say it’s harder to face what happened to her now that it’s over than it ever was to accept while it was actually occurring. But it was good that I did. I was able to notice other things, like how insanely long her hair has gotten (wow!), and the way that it doesn’t get as oily as it once did anymore on the days that we skip a bath. This year the big event for Scarlett was her hospitalization, although in truth, I think it was a bigger event for the rest of the family than it actually was for her. It was a hard, hard time on everyone, and Scarlett by no means worked through the experience unscathed by fear and pain, but for better or worse, a great deal of the experiences that have shaped our relationship the most occurred in that awful place; That place I feel at once so fortunate, and still so very, very cheated ever to have had to know. Her first laugh, and the very first effort she ever made to crawl were experiences I was right on hand at the hospital to devote my every focus on, and to pour over her with uninterrupted affection over. And those are experiences I cherish to my core, that I wouldn’t know if it weren’t for that place.
Afterward, Scarlett recovered in leaps and bounds and then some! For starters, she plumped up something fierce. She learned to walk (and even to run if she has something she badly enough wants to keep you from taking away!). She popped four teeth in the span of little over a month, although they all took until clear after her first birthday to arrive. Speaking of -- she celebrated her first birthday on the coldest early-October day in Delaware history under a park pavillion in a little beanie with mouse ears and a pink tutu. She learned to recognize many letters, and although she doesn’t say a whole lot that’s actually discernable, she has learned very recently to say short phrase like, “Who’s that?” when she points to a picture on the wall. Or “hello?” when she picks up a toy telephone.
Looking at pictures of Matthew from last year is seriously less like looking at my own son and going “aww…” as it is like looking at a photo of a distant cousin or something and going, “Oh, that kid! Yeah, I remember him…”. Almost-four-year-old Matthew is like 40% more awesome in pretty much every category than the almost-three-year-old one was. At the start of this year, for example, I thought we’d never kick the bink. But if I hadn’t stumbled onto photos from eight months ago with that unexpected thing plastered between his cheeks to remind me, I might have forgot to mention it at all.
This year Matthew and I made crafts on every single holiday that came up (and in-between!), which has been one of the neatest ways to capture his developing motor skills through the shifting seasons. Right now I can pretty much just let him go to town on a few sheets of paper with some crafting supplies and more or less supervise him just by popping my head in the room once in a while. Better yet, I can do this and have him turn out something bizarrely cool entirely on his own, that actually half-resembles what he set out to make. A year ago that would have probably resulted in a gaping injury and a call to the fire department.
This year he learned to:
A.) ride a bike.
B.) swim with a pair of water-wings.
C.) legitimately skate from one end of the rink to the other without falling down.
D.) Catch a jarful of fireflies.
E.) Read fluently.
The amount of healthy food we can get him to agree to eat has increased considerably, and his behavior has just shown one breakthrough after another. He can still generally be very defiant with other people, but he can be reasoned with, which has made all the difference.
Mary is very simply a boy-crazed lunatic right now. The End.
(Just kidding.) (Kind of.)
Last year Mary and her friend went to the first school dance they’d ever been to that parents weren’tsupposed to stay for. When the boy she liked “dumped” her for the friend she was with, they laughed about it the whole way home. Clearly, the word boyfriend meant about as much to her then as the word bologna in Swahili. It was just fun to say. This year, I’ve heard one, specific idiot boy’s name mentioned at least once every minute and a half since they met; probably somewhere around 843 billion times. AND COUNTING. They only went out for maybe a week and a half in the beginning of the school year before they broke up just to stay friends. But evidently that one week of being labeled somebody’s GF packed a little more punch this time around.
She started sixth grade this year and is playing the clarinet completely against her will at this point. (The result of my not allowing her to quit after she requested to play it again over the summer. MOST FICKLE CHILD EVER.) But she is getting so good that her latest recital actually held her one and three-year-old siblings’ attention. Her birthday party this year was a Twilight themed sleep-over, wherein we baked devil’s food cupcakes that bled cherry-pie filling when you bit into them, and ate them with her friends at one in the morning. Speaking of eating cupcakes, Mary could probably eat an entire horse for dinner every night and still look like she is never fed, but according to her pediatrician she is right at the fiftieth percentile for both height and weight. Kaitlyn, who lives down the street is still her BFF, and they are closer than ever now that they’re actually going to the same school for the first time in their lives. They laugh about boys at lengths that would exhaust you for me to even describe. She’s not allowed to have a face book, so she spends most of her time at home on you tube and writing on her blog, although she can still once in a while be found curled up in a quiet corner with a book, which helps to make me feel better about the amount of time we let her have on the computer. After Spencer’s accident, he promptly vowed to start scheduling at least once-a-month, father-daughter date nights with her, which both of them have been really psyched to start.
Somewhere between huddling together and crying in the corridors of a hospital, and wanting to gouge each other’s eyeballs out with their bare thumbs over possession of the last yogurt, Matthew and Mary’s relationship turned into something real this year. Something sacred. I know that this year has had it’s hurtles, but when I look back on it, recounts of hardship aren’t what I feel like I’m walking away with.
It’s these guys. Holding hands through a crowd of people toward an ice cream truck. Splashing closer to each other in a pool, next to a big, wet dog, shouting rules to a game with goggles on their faces. Sitting cross-legged on the roof of the car under a cascade of fireworks, Matthew leaning slightly on her shoulder. Getting both of their kites stuck in a tree at exactly the same time, thirty feet up. Building lopsided marshmallow snowmen and glitter-glued, cotton ball Santa Clauses for the Christmas tree after Thanksgiving, and howling over how terrible the other’s looks. Chasing their sister down for the things she stole from their rooms and laughing in maniacal coalition when she tries to run, and falls. Only to sooner or later make their way over to her together, and fight over who gets to help her back up. It’s strange how everything else, no matter what scale of emergency it may have been at the time… That stuff barely makes the radar.
In recent months, Scarlett and Matthew have started bickering so clearly together that the other day Matthew actually said to her: “Scarlett, that’s enough! I’m not fighting with you about this anymore! End of discussion!” In the coming years I know that Scarlett is only going to add vinegar to the mix with her own third party, hot-headed, female opinions. But in all honesty, I’m welcoming it. Because if a little sibling rivalry is what it takes to wind up in as special a relationship as there has been between my son and his big sister this year, than their little sister will be a luckier kid for it.
So, tell me about your year!