Olivia turned five on November 3 and as promised, we had a backyard bash with family and neighbors straight out of 1992, complete with a surprise appearance by THE SHARPTOOTH and a “Land Before Time” movie poster taped to the side of the house. My only regret involved Daylight Savings Time. Turning the clocks back on a five year old’s birthday when the party isn’t until the afternoon? Cruel.
Last year, the day before Leila was born, and four days after Olivia had turned four, I lost it. I had a scheduled c-section the next day and decided it was the perfect time to have it out with Olivia over her choice of clothing. She wanted to wear the same thing every day. She could not expand. (School uniforms have been wonderful for this part of her, which is why we have pictures of her in her school jumper on the beach and at Disney World.) 90% of the time I was Zen Mom. But on this fragile day I decided to intervene. I lost it. It was ugly. We both cried.
Then I drove her to Leah’s house because I had to go to an appointment at the hospital. I handed her to Leah and said. ” I was so so mean. And tomorrow I’m going to die. I’m going to die on that table and this is what she’ll remember.”
Leah told me that I was going to be fine, and held Olivia with the IPad. This is the nurture we all need.
I didn’t die the next day. And Olivia has been better than fine.
She arrived to visit her sister in the hospital, all smiles but with no desire to hold the new baby. This girl knows important moments cannot be manufactured. It was two months later that their relationship began as many epic ones have: with handholding. “Do you think I can hold Leila’s hand?” she whispered to me. So they held hands, and have never looked back.
In March, sitting around the dinner table, Olivia made an astounding announcement. “Sophia,” she said, “I am going to be the Silly One.” Like that a Middle Child was born. She wears the mantle fiercely. Her humor borders on inappropriate – but whose doesn’t? This girl has come laughter and singing and role playing and games. She does a spot-on imitation of Rapunzel’s Mother Gothel, can play every part in Snow White, and loves The Grinch more than any story. I’m proud and inspired. Her imagination still integrates almost seamlessly into her reality. She looked at me the other day while listening to Christmas music and said in response to Mariah Carey’s bellows, ” Mommy, I don’t want her to get me for Christmas.”
Olivia is funny. She is sensitive and she is strong. One of my true delights this year has been witnessing who she is becoming. She still says out of nowhere, quite often, “Mommy I love you. Will I always be your precious girl?”
Sweet child, you have no idea.
Onward (to six??!!).