Thursday, November 19, 2015

Grace Face, Birthday Babe

         













Angel and Tiger. That is my Gracie. She can claw my heart into a million pieces and then fix me up entirely with just one sweet touch. She will tear her way into the day, grab it by her teeth, shake it up, and then collapse sweetly into my arms, gently grabbing my face, and covering me with her version of passionate kisses. She will throw her whole defiant body at us when we say no, lunge herself at our legs, but she wants to marry one of us, John or me, when we get younger.
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"Mummy, mommy, MOM, mommy!" She yells from the top of the stairs, my non-immediate response inevitably triggering a heightened urgency and another, faster round of "momMY'S!" from her tiny but powerful voice. "Mommy, mommy, come here, mommy, come!"

"Hold me?!" She says as I approach the bottom of the stairs.


She won't walk down the stairs by herself in the morning. I scoop her up, press her heated little body to my own and just as I did the morning before and the morning before that, I say without thinking, "I missed you last night!" Her Minnie Mouse nightgown falls right below her knees, leaving her strong little legs free to wiggle away from me once we get to the bottom of the stairs. Into the kitchen she tears, giddy to see her brother. Her hair, which she finally has, sticks straight out in every direction she slept on the night before. She doesn't know to care about it and I am more than fine with. Often, I let her leave the house looking just the way she woke up, but with different clothes.

Every day a dress; she has her favorites. There's a silky one with butterflies, a mint green lacy number that she calls her "wedding dress", an even fancier prom-type dress that she wore to the daddy-daughter dance -- and every week since -- that is purple all over, with several layers of tulle and sequins. It goes to her ankles. She can't get enough of it. There's her sailor dress, now covered in paint, and last year's Christmas dress, which she adorned the week before Halloween this year. I recently bought her a sparkly silver dress that was a little over the top but just her speed and when I brought it home to present to her, she said, "My teacher is going to think that's a-diculous."


 


But it is not a-diculous at all, mind you, when she wears her Elsa dress to the grocery store, her prom dress to school, and her Brave dress out to play in the snow. 



She loves her princesses and ponies and dress up clothes, but she also loves bugs, maybe even more than all of the above. She just loves them. Bugs, spiders, sometimes even snakes. She notices the teeniest spiders, the spiders that never get noticed, the ones that look a little like dust with legs. And she sets out leaves, at least 40 times their tiny size, for them to eat. She collects ants, too, puts them in her princess lunch box, sticks a couple pieces of grass inside for them to chew on, and checks on them throughout the day. Often, sadly, she holds her tiny little friends too tight, and they fall lifeless to the ground.

Grace, holding a tiny bug
She talks about her school, her class, her friends (and the snacks they bring in and who hit who today) all the time. She is the youngest in the class and to me still sometimes looks like a tall baby, but to her, she is right where she belongs, a not quite four year old living the full and exciting life of a typical five year old kid. She loves to sit at the dinner table and name her friends from school, often with not much of a story, just a rambling of names, telling us in her way about her people, her new and very important world.

First day of school
First day of school - with attitude

She started dance a few months ago; she seems a bit more conflicted about what she thinks of dance, though you'd never know it, not if you stood there watching her in class, not if you watched her around the house. She loves putting on a spontaneous show for her family, but she has decided, before ever setting foot on a stage, that she has stage fright. She got that idea from Berenstein Bears: Stage Fright. And now, she refuses to be in any show and I'm just glad she'll perform at home.





She is outspoken and quick with a comeback, and not afraid to throw a tantrum, no matter who is around her; she is silly and loud and hilarious and completely opinionated, but she, like the rest of us, has endless layers. She is often shy and can get so close to me in these moments that I don't know where she begins and I end. Her heart belongs almost entirely to her brother and when he is hurting about something, she aches alongside him, tries to make it better, does everything in her power. She watched a video of Noah as a baby and we explained to her who she was looking at. "I love that little boy," she said, "that's my Noah."



She takes care of me in moments when I least expect it. Two weeks ago, for instance, I was racing around the house and town all day, preparing to leave for the weekend. In the middle of the chaos, she quietly said, "I need to fix your hair. It is a mess." And she did. She found a brush and fixed me up (as best she could). The night before my own birthday this past year, she came up to me, nearly out of breath, holding onto her giant red piggy bank. She shook it, gathered its contents and handed me 76 cents. My present. I told her she does not need to give me her money. "It's not mine anymore, Mommy," she said, "It's yours now."

Baby Samantha with Gracie's binks
This is also the year Grace gave up her binkies. If you knew Grace before age 3 1/2, you also know of the passion she had for her pacifiers. She would hide them around the house, sneak upstairs to have a suck whenever she could get away, wake up every time they fell out of her mouth, refuse to go to sleep without them. And then, one day, she decided another baby needed her binkies. And Samantha, one of our dearest baby friends, happened to be visiting, and we presented her with a bag of Grace's two favorite binkies. And she decided that day that Samantha was her baby. And she hasn't forgotten that. When we shop for Grace, she always asks about Samantha and what we should get for her.

Grace with the baby she had that morning (jk)


She doesn't love dolls, she loves babies. This happened one morning about five months ago:

Grace: I am getting bigger. I can feel it. I 'm going to be a mommy this morning.
Me: You are?
Grace: And you are getting littler.
John: How did the baby get in there?
Grace: It just popped in.
Noah: Will it be a boy or a girl?
Grace: A girl.

When she says "girl," she curls her "i" into a "u" and hardly pronounces the "r". I hope she always says it that way. She removes the "r", Boston style, from a variety of other words you would not expect to come out of such a small person's mouth, such as "whatever" (teenage style) and "sure! sure!" (mommy style). She also says "totally" and "ohmyGod" and when I hear these things, I think "huh... what do I do with this?"(and then I let it go). Also, she once told Noah, "Noah, I love you, but sometimes I need privacy." I can't pretend I don't love it.

She exhausts me, but I could stare at her all day long, her every motion and emotion, and be perfectly happy. Perhaps this is the definition of narcissism, an obsession with my (our) creation, but I made a person who is able to bring out every type of emotion in me every day, almost at the same time. She was a tiny little sleeping being not very long ago and now she is running our household. She is my dream girl, the Belle to my Beast, the snappy, sassy sweetheart I hardly dared to hope for. My Grace Face. Happy Fourth Birthday, Angel.

Me (Beast) and Grace (Beauty)