Monday, March 28, 2011

Happy birthday, baby

Thirteen years ago this morning (at 3:46 am precisely, but who's counting), Older Daughter was born, and then there were three.  She was a long drink of water back then - 7 pounds, eight ounces and 21 inches - and she's still not exactly short (OK, she's taller than me; I think she may be hitting 5'5" soon - I am 5'2'ish not 5'5").  She gave us a run for our money, that one - colic, night terrors, sleep-walking.  You name it, and if it meant less sleep for us, she had it.  She didn't like to sleep because the world went and changed while she was sleeping, and she missed things.  One friend described her as Ivan the Terrible after babysitting her (note: that friend babysat her many times after that; it wasn't a criticism so much as an observation) - charming as can be, right up until the moment when she WASN'T.  I always knew, though, that the hard stuff was the flip side of the coin that made her one of the most observant and interested and just generally engaged kids I knew, even as a toddler.  (This was the child who recognized the street I needed to turn on to go to Peet's for an extra cup of coffee on the way to daycare.  At eighteen months.  If I didn't turn that way, she'd ask "Copy shot?  Copy shot?" - the f's in coffee were a bit tough back then, poor kid, but she knew what she was saying.)  She was always on, if you know what I mean, and the price of that level of openness to the world was some tears.  Rick and I always figured that our biggest job was going to be to give her the tools she needed to survive her own full-force interest in every. single. thing that was happening around her, all. the. time. 

So we worked on that, and she worked on that (learning to read helped tremendously), and in watching her I came to realize that a lot of my own alternating sense of feeling deep joy in the world around me and feeling completely overwhelmed by the world around me was, essentially, the same thing.  I, too, like to read a lot.  (Escapism?  Indeed.  Knitting has been a big benefit for me, in that it takes the edge off without being quite as anti-social as reading.)  The more she became able to do on her own, the more at peace she was with her world.  She developed quite a sense of humor, and if there is one thing I can say about my daughter, it's that she retains the ability to laugh, even at herself, through almost anything.  It seems to be taking the edge off the pre-teen years, and I can only hope, on this day she turns 13, that it continues through the teenage years. 

What else to say about my older daughter?  She is kind, and thoughtful, and empathetic.  She is beautiful, and doesn't care.  She is still willing to tell me (and her younger sister!) that she loves us when we drop her off in the morning.  She just started her middle school's first newspaper.  She stuck with orchestra even when it wasn't what she really wanted, but is now happy because we found her a fiddle teacher.  She's willing to try almost anything once, even raw oysters, and see it through (although she did almost spit that oyster back out).  She took the commuter train out to my campus today - by herself! - so I could buy her a birthday sandwich.  She loves to travel (she and her best friend have already planned - and priced out - a summer in Greece between high school and college; it may not happen, but she's got a plan!), rolls with the punches, and carries a book (or three) everywhere she goes.

Yesterday, she told us that for her birthday, she wanted to go on the Flightline at the Wild Animal Park.  So we went.  I ended up being the parent to go with the girls, and we all loved it (so much more than I'd thought I would, in fact).  Especially the birthday girl, who was just happy as could be that we were willing to go on this adventure with her.


Carefree and happy after her practice run.
And in the truck, as they took us far, far, up the valley to a platform 45 feet above a hillside that dropped steeply away.
If you click to embiggen, you'll see that those three little dots are us.  The guy who sent us off explained to the girls, very clearly, that shrieking upset the rhinos and was not a good idea.  They did not shriek.  Neither, to my surprise, did I.
Getting our "survival shot" taken by the Park employee.
And by Rick.  She looks pretty happy there, doesn't she?

Happy birthday, baby girl.  I can't tell you how glad we are that you're here.

17 comments:

Lynne said...

Happy birthday Older Daughter.

My GS#1 (13 months) fights sleep every step of the way - he might miss something! Sound familiar? :-)

Wanderingcatstudio said...

Sounds like you've raised a pretty good kid! My neices are much the same way - smart and very independent, but generous, sweet and caring.
Hope she had a great one!
(The line about the Rhinos made me LOL)

Willow said...

Love love love this post! Happy Birthday! And yes, she is beautiful :)

twinsetellen said...

With a few tears in my eyes, I observe the eldest daughter is not the only one looking quite happy in the survival shot. Good luck to all in surviving Age 13, which for us was the nadir of teenagehood, but from which two lovely women emerged. It appears your daughter is well on her way to that!

Miss 376 said...

Lovely to see them smile like that. My baby willbe 13 in July, then I'll have two teenagers! Where does the time go

lori said...

aw, I like her so very very much! And happy birthday to the mama, who should always get a special acknowledgement on kids' birthdays (if not flowers, ahem).

I love the shot of you and both daughters; your face is hidden right underneath theirs, and I always love that.

Mary Lou said...

What a lovely tribute. I rode one of those line at the Olympic site in Salt Lake City. I screamed. Glad there were no animals to disturb.

KnitNana said...

HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY (and I'm late, but hope you won't mind...)

YOU ALL look very happy in those shots! And the fearlessness of your girls is a sight to behold.

Sending you all (((hugs)))
(and also telling you I named you one of my Stylish Blogs over on my own today...
(((hugs)))

Debbie said...

Congrats to the birthday girl and to mom. The photos of the wild animal park brought back memories of our one family visit there (on the way to Palomar Observatory). I wanted to ride that zipline! Lucky mom that your daughter chose this for her birthday present!
Don't you love how our kids' interests and joys make our lives richer? Isn't that one of the greatest things?

EGunn said...

Happy birthday to Older Daughter! Sounds like a good place from which to start the teenage years. (You've gotten all the hard stuff out of the way already, yes?)

Nothing like the relief of survival to bring a smile to your face. =)

fiberjoy said...

Wonderful, joyful post about your incredible daughter. You are going to love the teen years! Seriously. Engaging talks, unfurling womanhood. Good stuff.

That zipline looks like terrific fun. You're all glowing.

AlisonH said...

Oh, what a cool way to spend a birthday! Happy birthday to a fine young lady with a great mom and dad!

Alwen said...

How do our babies grow so fast!

Mine is 11 (and three-quarters) and has grown 7/8ths of an inch since January 24th. I can't believe he's almost 12.

Laurie said...

Just getting caught up...again. What a wonderful tribute to your daughter! She truly is beautiful, inside and out. I especially love it that she fiddles. Who are her influences?

marit said...

Happy Birthday (although a bit late...) to your beautiful daughter!

Gwen said...

Happy Belated Birthday! A great birthday adventure for all.

Bea said...

Happy Birthday!!! (a bit late!) She's lovely and apparently so much fun. This birthday doing looks like an amazingly good time.