"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Friday, February 21, 2020

The Dragon is 8

Her horoscope says
she is a Water Dragon. 
She's gentle, yet fierce.


My dermatologist found a spot of precancerous actinic keratosis during my last skin check. As she prepared to freeze the spot off my nose with liquid nitrogen, she tried to distract me from the discomfort: "So, tell me about your kids."

"I have three," I began, closing my eyes in anticipation of the burn. As it became clear that the procedure would be completely painless, I continued:

"My oldest is 12. He's headstrong and rigid and likes predictability and control. He's a law and order guy. Justice, truth, and logic. So smart. So cerebral.

My middle is 10. He is expressive and emotive and a deep feeler. He's creating his own path in this world and can't help sharing every thought, feeling, idea, and emotion as it occurs to him. So creative and connected. A total free spirit.

My youngest is almost 8. She's...well...she's like walking sunshine."

The freezing complete, I stopped there to hear my post-procedure care instructions.

But I could have gone on about our Molly...that she's kind and affectionate...

a lover of animals...

and a fierce defender of her opinions, her possessions, and her autonomy.

"Though she be little..."

She's silly and funny and crazy smart. I could have gone on about her sense of humor and her sense of style.

I could have gone on about her ability to be so thoughtful and empathetic and aware of the greater world around her.

I could have gone on...but I also think I summed her up pretty well...

Simply put: She's sunshine.

Molly is warm and friendly and generally happy. She is easy-going and adaptable. She is agreeable and considerate. She is confident and outgoing and proud.

The day before a new student joined her class, Molly wrote notes to each of her classmates reminding them to be a kind and welcoming friend to their new classmate. She is thoughtful. And a leader.

She can be cautious...

Helmets on for safety!

...but after observation and consideration, often joins right in.

She is playful and imaginative...she doesn't try to act older than she is.

After school one day a few weeks ago, she told me all about a secret portal she and her best friend had discovered at the base of a tree on the playground. "It's probably a portal to the Fairy Realm," she began, "so we collected all of the sparkly rocks we could find to put by the portal so when the fairies come through they'll know we're allies." She went on to say that she's pretty sure the fairies left them a key, disguised as a rock, to unlock the portal. I have no doubt they'll spend the rest of the school year finding rocks and holding them up to the tree, trying to open the passage to this other worldly dimension.

She is goodness and light. And today, she's 8.

Our kids each bring so much to our family dynamic. Our oldest is, quite literally, teaching us how to be parents. In every new stage of parenting, he's the proverbial "first pancake." Our kids are unique and each has their own individual needs but, as the first born, Evan is the trailblazer....and it's not always easy for him.

Our second is teaching me to use my voice. Growing up, I was never one to ruffle feathers. Steadfast in my own beliefs, I never felt the need to share my views with others. As I got older, I began to recognize injustices and started to practice calling them out...quietly, though, politely. With Max, I got loud.

Molly is teaching me to slow down. Our last baby, she's made me viscerally aware of each last we experience through her...In each age and stage I'm trying to be present and aware and fully engaged. I don't want to miss it. She's the kind of kid who brings joy to each of these stages. I'm experiencing the best of the Sweet Spot through her...

Our baby of babies.

She's the last of our kids who will lose a baby tooth (dramatically, tearfully!) in the men's restroom of Macado's, while visiting Sam's alma mater.

She's the last kid we'll teach to ride a bike. The last kid who will ask us to kiss booboos and tuck her in at night. She's the last kid I can still carry....and those days are numbered.

She's the last of our kids who still wants to wait in line to have her face painted...

 and who thinks going to the movies deserves Being Fancy. 

Instead of a birthday party, Molly has chosen to invite two friends out to dinner. She's requested that they sit at their own Table For Three, such worldly little women they are by now, after all. (Though she'll still order a "plain cheese pizza, hold the sauce, please!" I suppose her worldly palate will catch up eventually.) After, we'll return to the house for lemon meringue pie and root beer floats, followed by The Princess Bride.

So grown up.

She writes notes to herself and signs them "Love, Molly."  She writes her Ys with curly tails. According to her Owl of the Week poster, she is "Mysterious, On a Roll, Loving, Little, and the Youngest."

She can make posters all by herself!

So grown up.

Her smile is all wonky; too-big permanent teeth, jockeying for position and making good use of the spaces left by her lost baby teeth.

She's like a little girl who's been gently stretched. Arms and legs long and gangly, but still folding in comfortably to fit on my lap for a snuggle.

She stomps and slams doors and screams "You're never nice!" when she feels she's been wronged, giving us all space and opportunity to practice for her teenage years.

So grown up.

And yet...

She still twirls my hair as we snuggle at bedtime.
She still treats her stuffed animals as if they're real pets.
She still pronounces /R/ like /W/ and /L/ and /Y/ as if they are practically interchangeable.
She still eats like a baby bird and strikes poses in puddles.

She still greets me with a tightest hug and a kiss when I meet her in the pick-up hallway after school. 
She still reaches for my hand as we walk across a parking lot. 
She still has the tiniest little voice...until she needs to get fierce.

She's already eight! She's ONLY eight. Such a little big kid. Surely this is the sweetest of sweet spots.

Lesson Learned:

She is equal parts Evan and Max and entirely her own. A perfect balance between sweetness and sass. A lover, a fighter, a learner, a teacher, a quiet bookworm, and bold stage performer. She has completed this family since she drew her first breath and has brightened our days every moment since. She is our Molly Bolly and we'll eat her up, we love her so.

Dragon Lady of mine, happiest of birthdays to you. You make us so proud each and every day.