Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Six years of Lily

Lily turns six tomorrow. I always knew I would love her, but I had no idea how much I would like her.

And now she's growing into a kid, and a good one. I'm proud of her. We went to the library on Tuesday and she went directly for a book called "Monster Goose," a collection of scary nursery rhymes. I saw the book a moment before she did and knew she was going to grab it. She dove into, reading it when we were waiting to check out, on the walk across the parking lot and during the five minute car ride, finally plopping down on an easy chair to finish it when we arrived home.

See? Here's a picture!

In fact, each of us were reading and the house was totally silent. It was a strange sensation, but a nice one. I'm glad we're raising a reader. I'm proud of the person she's becoming. 

She's kind, she's happy, she's healthy, she's so smart, and if there is one thing I would give her, it would be the gift of failure.

And that may seem like a strange thing to say on her birthday, but failure teaches valuable lessons. Somewhere along the line, a professor of mine described sympathy as "I feel sorry for you" and empathy as "I know what you're going through". And failure teaches empathy, and humility. I don't want her faith in herself to be this brittle thing that's going to shatter the first time she fails. I want her to understand that it happens, sometimes there's nothing you can do about it and that it's not the end of the world when it does.

But that can wait. Here are some happy thoughts!

My thoughts always fall into familiar patterns on her birthday.

We'd been waiting through the night for Lily to be born, but she just didn't want to come out. I think she'd been reading Shel Silverstein's "I will not hatch" inside mommy's tummy. So the decision was made to perform a C-Section. I was going to be there in the room for it, so they sent me to put some on protective gear, including these things that were like plastic bags for over my shoes. And I was having trouble getting them to fit properly, alone in that room. I supposed I should have been frustrated by my inability to get them on, but I knew that I had all the time in the world, that they would wait for me, once I stepped out that door,  they would start the procedure and I would meet my daughter and my world would change forever.

And that's what happened. I had known the first words I was going to say to her and I said them as the nurses were weighing her for the first time.

Listen the Mustn'ts, child
Listen to the Don'ts
Listens to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts.
Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me
Anything can happen child,
Anything can be.

And I said those words to her, she looked up at me with those great big eyes. I was her very first friend. An hour ago I couldn't imagine what she'd look like and now I couldn't imagine her any other way.

 She had a bandage on her cheek for her first few days, because they cut too deep for the C-section.

She still has the scar, and I think she always will, though by now it's small and faint..

Shortly after we returned from our trip to Longleat gardens, I chipped my "World's Largest Hedge Maze" mug. But I've come to like my chipped mug. It reminds me of the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi-Sabi, which holds that things are beautiful precisely because they are imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. And likewise, Lily's face would look strange without that scar. I like it. It gives her character.

Lily woke up from a bad dream last week and when this happens, we usually stay with her in her bed until she falls asleep. So we had this conversation.

Me: Lily, I love you more than anything in the world.
Lily: I won't tell mommy. It would make her sad that you love me more.
Me: It's okay. Parents are supposed to love their kids more than anything.
Lily: (drifting off to sleep, patting me on the arm) Daddy, I love you like my son...

I couldn't ask for a better kid.

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