Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A letter from your mother well past the occasion of your 5th birthday

Dear Eleri,
This letter is long overdue.

The idea with these letters, of course, is to offer a snapshot of who you are as you pass the annual milestone, as you complete another journey around the sun.  But as you get bigger, become more you, there is so much I have to say that it is challenging to write two birthday letters in one week, especially when that week involves two (or more) birthday parties.  Last year, Clio's was late.  I suppose that makes it your turn.

The once nice thing about the lateness of this letter is that I have thought about it nearly daily, which means that I have had my eyes and ears open to YOU daily.  The less convenient thing is that you are not the same kid today as you were on July 9 of this year.  You are taller and slimmer and have shed the last of the "babyness" that children carry up to kindergarten.  You are a kindergartner!  You went to day camp for the first time, you know how to play Hot Cross Buns on the piano (or keyboard, as you are bound to correct), you started dance class, you got (much needed!) glasses.

But here is how I was going to start this letter back in July, if I had written it down.

Dear Eleri,
You are a hard nut to crack.
On our vacation in South Dakota, our friend Justin said "when Eleri looks at me, it is like she is thinking 27 questions, some of them in languages that have not yet been invented."  He said this and I thought: exactly.

You do ask a lot of questions, my love.  You want to know everything.

At your 5 year check up, they tested your eyes.  They sent us to the eye Dr.--do not pass go, do not collect $100--and we discovered that you are extremely far sighted.  You are a +8!  some glasses-wearing friends tell me that this means you have been living in an impressionistic painting.  After we got your prescription we went immediately to pick out your glasses, and you were very definite about the process, but you wanted to try them ALL on.  Then Daddy and I went to a wedding and you went to Grandma and Grandpa's and you came back too late to make it to the store to pick up the new glasses and it kept getting delayed and I was so worried.  How is she navigating the world when she can't see?  I thought.  Of course, you had been doing just fine all along, but all of a sudden, knowing that the world was different through your eyes, I worried.

When we finally did go to Owl Optical to pick up your glasses, you were VERY excited.  Julie put them on you and you turned around and ran to the door.  It was so unexpected!  I don't know what that was about really--were you trying to see outside?  To look at the sky?  Did you think you were done?  That it was time to go home?--but then you came back to me, and you put your hands on my cheeks and looked straight in to me in that way that you can, and you said, "Mama!  Mama, your face isn't blurry."  And I nearly burst in to tears right there.  You rarely call me Mama.  And just to think...

This is part of your being-5 story, and I think how marvelous it must be, in a way, to see the world clearly for the first time when you already know so much about it.  I wish I could understand that change, and when we first got your glasses I looked through them, thinking that what I saw through your glasses was the same as what you saw without them; but of course this is not true.  I wish I could know the world you see.  Maybe when you are older you'll be able to tell me.

But this is not all of your being-5 story.  You were shy.  You used to take a long time to warm up, and I wonder if that has actually changed now, or if I just think it has.  And if it HAS changed, I wonder if it is because you are 5 now, older, or if it is because you can see clearly around you the faces of people who want to know you, to be your friend.

At the back to school Ice Cream Social, you wrote on your "goal fish":  Make a new friend.  And then you set this wish free in the river of the library bulletin board.  I hope you will make new friends.  You are introverted.  Ms. Christine stopped doing show and tell in your classroom, but in the spring she would make special exceptions for you.  If you wanted to put yourself out there in front of the class, her answer was yes.  Even when you wanted to "show" a toy--against the show and tell rules.  You are still close with Adele, but we don't hear about her as much anymore.  I think she is a lot of work for you.  Your teachers say they are glad of the friendship for her sake, and their sake, that you help them a lot.  But that they hope you will make other friends,  for your sake.

You are so capable.  So capable, but not always willing.  You have little jobs now, and though you are an excellent folder of napkins, you often resist putting them out at mealtime.  You are motivated by the big pay off.  I can't get you to sit and read Step Into Reading books, but this morning in the car you were sounding out Secrets of Droon.  You like fine, detail work.  Finger knitting, "real" knitting," embroidery, bead work.  In South Dakota, we saw scientists carefully removing silt from fossils.  This very close, slow, fastidious work, and I thought, that's something you might do.  You have tremendous patience (until you don't) and focus (it can still be very difficult to get your attention when you are engrossed), but you also can get very frustrated.  You still deal with that frustration physically sometimes, and I'm no longer the only one who bears the brunt of it.  You hit your sister, too.  Lately, you stomp your foot a lot, hard.  Daddy has been suggesting karate, and i think you might be ready.

You want to take the harp, too.  Last winter I asked if you wanted music lessons (I am always asking this.)  "Yes, please," you said. "I think I'll play the harp."  The harp!  Naturally I thought it was passing fancy, but last week you asked again.  Clio's piano teacher is looking for a teacher for you, but in the meantime you play a lot of air piano in the back seat, and Clio has proved to be quite a good teacher.

What else can I tell you?

You are still quite funny.  You have always had good comic timing, and it seems to be something you won't outgrow.  You still love sweets, and now you have learned that it's funny if you just say "SUGAR!!!" when someone asks what kind of dessert you want.  You love leopard print all of a sudden, and chose matching corduroys, shirt, and dress, and looked for shoes, too; you wear it all with a leopard coat and hat and it is quite a sight.  You continue to be stubborn and resistant.  There were many tears this summer when daddy taught you to ride a bike.  But here's the thing: you learned to ride a bike!  You are still willing to snuggle with me (though not always), still JUST small enough to curl in my lap with my chin on your head.  Tonight, I picked you up upside down in your towel after your bath, and cradled you up, and after you stopped laughing, you said, "I'm a baby!"

You are not a baby anymore kiddo, but you will always be MY baby, and boy, do I love you.

Eleri noodle, we love you oodles and oodles and oodles.


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