a hand and a thumb

We recently had what we swear will be the last crazy at home birthday party for the kids. I placed SIX candles on two small cupcakes for Caroline who stood at the end of our dining room table with her friends squeezed into every crevice of space around her. It was a crazy day, with an overflowing house of friends and family and farm animals. The kids sat sweetly holding swaddled up bunnies and chasing Matilda the pig around her pen. I made forty-four insanely adorable bunny cupcakes with cookie ears. The project took days, more time than I anticipated. while I wouldn't say I would make them for Easter, I would do it again for my kids. Maybe just not forty-four?

It's hard to remember now what tiny Caroline, who was almost Bridget, was like as a newborn. This week I held our new niece Tenley in my arms and while the motion was familiar, the weight of that baby feather light, I could barely picture in my head how the baby who made me a Mom looked when I held her in my arms, swaddled up, making those sweet little baby noises and expressions with her eyebrows.

From Caroline's First Month

My grandfather was right. She's a Caroline through and through. Her name means "free man" and I have yet to meet such a free spirit, a girl with such unbridled energy and pep, and especially free with her emotions. She gives advice and hugs for freely and with gusto. She's taking after her bleeding social work mother's heart, arguing the freedoms of humanity; the right to be safe, the freedom to love who we want and to speak out for the things we believe in.

From Caroline Month 6

Her brain is always firing and she's been coming up with some brain busters lately that bring me pause because holy heck, this is an important question. She no longer asks questions and listens intently to my answer, oh no, those days are gone. She listens to what I have to say and adds her own opinion and instead of being the teacher, I am often learning from her. We recently debated gun control when she out of the blue asked me why police officers have guns, followed by, "why do the bad guys have guns too?" I'm proud to tell you that she doesn't think anyone needs a gun because "people can get hurt or even die and what would we do if all the states had no people because of guns."

From Drop Box

I'm just as proud to tell you that when we recently learned that her brother Connor had a particularly pushy and aggressive afternoon at school, I didn't have to issue hardly a statement about his behavior. Caroline calmly and sternly reinforced that hands are for "hugging and high fiving, not for hitting" and that if someone pushes him he should "politely tell them to stop pushing." "OK Buddy?" She takes her big sister role very seriously, always has, ever since she learned he was joining our family. They aren't always besties, but most of the time they love each other so fiercely they hate to be separated for a moment. They fill silences with snuggles and laughter and I hope that continues for the rest of their lives. He calls her Mom and she calls him Dad and it gets very confusing.

From July 3rd 2009

She knows now that she lived somewhere else before here, but she only recalls this picture. "when I danced in the box." We haven't so much as driven by the house in CT since we moved and yet she claims to remember it in photos. She often hits us hard by telling Connor, "we had a kitty when we lived in CT, her name was Reese, she died." She is so sensitive and her heart so full of love that she recently changed her "when I grow up" occupation to "work in a pet shelter." She talks often about the dog she will adopt someday and draws him/her into pictures she draws of herself, still wearing a crown, but also holding a leash.

From Moving Weekend

As grown up as she is becoming, she still believes in fairies and princesses and magic. I hold onto the moments we spend talking about these things as they slip through my fingers like sand, the magic of her childhood fading away to reveal a more mature girl. We have to get back to Disney while she still believes this is THE Ariel, when we can spend more time on Peter Pan and less time on thrill rides. It won't be long before our little organizer has the whole trip planned out with notes on the map indicating where we will go and when. Sound familiar?  

From WDW.2011

When she turned five, I thought "this is where it all changes," but I was wrong. In so many ways she is just the same. She loves her family, she loves to be snuggled. Gone are the days of the upside down thumb suck and tummy grab she used to pull, but don't even consider sitting next to her on the couch without making room for her to push every available inch of her little body against you. She still lets me hold her hand and kisses me goodbye at the bus stop. She cries when I arrive to pick her up from her afterschool program because she doesn't want to leave, which crushes a piece of my soul each time I park the car and click the keys to lock the door. I am no longer her world, my role is not diminished, just smaller somehow. She grows and learns and inches her way away from us.

From Caroline Fifth Birthday.2012

She once declared, "I'm never going to college!" which seemed like a bold statement for a five year old to make. Some digging revealed that she did not want to ever leave home, to go away, to sleep away from us every night. I assured her, she could live at home, she didn't have to go away to school, but that she should reserve anxiety about something like this that won't be happening for a long time. She wears her BC colors, cheers for the white team at home hockey games, and can read the scoreboard herself. At a recent loss, against Maine she was sullen when we arrived because she looked up and said, "HOW IS BC ALREADY LOSING?" I'm not sure she will want to go to BC, that she will even want to go to college, but I do know that whatever she lends her particular blend of gusto, heart, and organizational oomph to will be an incredibly special career for her, whatever it might be. Of course I want her to go to college, does any parent hope for less than that today? I've seen now that this is MY wish, not hers.

From Caroline Kindergarten 2012

She's gorgeous; long curls, the lashes that go on and on, the freckles that splay across her nose and cheeks including that especially cute one I love near her lip. I hope she always feels as beautiful as she feels today. She glances in a mirror and gushes over how stunning she is, twirling her hair in her fingers, flipping it over her shoulder. The comparisons have already started, so and so wears this, so and so has straight hair. It won't be long before someone says something to her to crash her self-esteem and if I can hold myself back from destroying them, I hope I can remind her that she truly is perfect, just the way she is.

From October 2012

Her exuberance for life and finding the hidden amazingness in simple moments can be both a joy to watch and hard on your ears. Her excitement while playing with her brother (directing him/ordering him around) hits such a high volume at times that we need to pull her aside and ask her to BREATHE. Her reactions to even the simplest of things can be either soul crushing or light up the room excitement. Most times, it is difficult to predict which it will be. You'd have a better chance flipping a coin. When it is good though, it is so good and just looking at her makes us think THIS, this is why I am alive. She is our sun and moon and there are not enough stars to symbolize how much we love her, pout and all.

From November 2012

W drove to a birthday party recently and we were driving along and she pointed out these stones that could "bring back the power of a battery!" They were gravestones. I calmly and honestly told her that these were grave stones, meant to mark the place of rest for people no longer living. She shuddered at the thought, but accepted my answer. Later, at bedtime of course, she asked more questions and I assured her that most people are very old when they die and that I wouldn't be old for a very long time. "Mommy, will I be old?" "Someday." This made her sad and she all but said it wasn't fair. We made a bedtime pact to love the world and sun and the beach and cookies and yes, each other, as much as we possibly can before we "turn old."

She understands so much more, has so many thoughts and dreams and she is full of good intentions and a spirit of giving. She is logical, but emotionally resolved to never accept logic as a reason she can't do something. Caroline, our free girl, she reminds us everyday what it means to give of ourselves, to accept her and others at both their best and worst. She is full of energy one minute and at your side half asleep the next. She knows how to work the iPad to watch a movie, but still needs momma to open her fruit cup. She eats with a real fork and cup, but still insists on a happy meal. She is a conundrum of confusing and we adore her, our sweet six year old.

1 comment:

  1. Claire McCabe6:48 PM

    Kerry, I love reading your bog....you are a wonderful mom and she'll treasure these when she gets older. She is a lucky little girl!