When she was born - she cried. And then she cried some more. For 12 months this child cried. I would walk in circles holding her in my arms while she cried and then I cried. When I would try to put her down, she would cry louder. The only time she stopped crying was when she was in the car. She would sleep until the car would stop and start crying again. I had to drop her off at daycare for the first time when she was only 6 weeks old. I had no choice. I left to the agonizing sound of her crying, ran back to my car and bawled. And then I realized that I had forgotten to take in her diaper bag, so I had to go BACK into the daycare and torture us both all over again. She had stopped crying - I had not.
When she was one - she stopped crying and started laughing. This child had the world's greatest baby belly laugh and I would do just about anything to hear it. She took her time learning to walk, but as I've learned over the years, she doesn't do anything until she is damn well good and ready to do it. And when she decided to walk - she ran instead.
When she was two - she glided through the terribles with finesse and spitfire. Her father and I were pretty much scared to death of this bundle of attitude. It was during this time that we moved from Tennessee to Indianapolis. We had a second story apartment, a toddler and a dog. The Princess adjusted much better than the dog, and eventually the terribles were a thing of the past.
When she was three - we built a house in the burbs of Indianapolis and she discovered the joys of grass and swingsets and playing with chalk on concrete.
When she was four - she had a Princess and Pirate themed birthday party and she learned how to ride a bike.
When she was five - she started kindergarten. The bus picked her up right at the end of our driveway, and I struggled to keep it together. She wasn't afraid at all. She loved every second.
When she was six - I was offered a job in California that could not be passed up. I moved to California in February and went back and forth to Indy until she finished school in June. We moved into a small cute rental home on a waterway. The Princess loved California and the ducks who liked to hang out in our back yard. She missed her friends at home but looked at it all as an adventure and never asked "why".
When she was seven - she warily started a new school and glided without incident through the 3rd grade. And then her parents separated and divorced. And her father moved to another state, that was nearby but still faraway. I had to move out of the small cute house on the water and into an apartment on the other side of town. The Princess was sad. She asked a lot of difficult questions. I never knew whether she accepted my answers, but she seemed satisfied. There were several times when she would take my hand in hers and tell me to not be sad.
When she was eight - she started 4th grade in yet another new school (her 3rd in 3 years - my across-town move disqualified her from attending her old school). She was terrified of once again being the 'new girl', but she gritted her teeth and did it. She made friends. She liked the new school. She was tougher than she thought. She also met the Boy for the first time. We had been dating for months, but I wanted to wait until I was sure that he wasn't going anywhere before introducing her to him. So one night, when his team was in town, I took her to a Giant's game and then took her down to the field where the Boy was throwing. He came right over to her and gave her baseball. Since he was in the team uniform, all the other kids were crazy jealous and looked at her like "what the hell?". She sensed that she had just received special treatment and smiled shyly, said thank you, and nervously inched behind me. After the game, I took her downstairs to see the Boy again. He immediately realized her discomfort with the scale of the things around her. He got on his knees in front of her and explained that the job that he had was nothing compared with the job that her daddy had, and he hoped to do something as important as her daddy did some day. She smiled and they've been best buds ever since.
When she was nine - she heard some of her school friends making fun of a new girl at school and immediately shot them down with a "it's harder than it looks". She invited the new girl to play tether ball with her during recess. She began to hate the fact that she had to fly to see her father every other weekend. She loved spending the summers with him but hated that she couldn't play team sports at all because of the custody schedule. She started to look forward to the trips that we would take to see the Boy 'at work'. Early in the spring of that year, I took her to New York and then Philadelphia. The Boy arranged for both team mascots to surprise her in the stands. This is just one of the many many reasons that we both love the Boy.
When she was ten - she started to give me glimpses of the teenager to come, and not all of it was bad. There are the hormones and the temper. There are the snarky text messages and the slamming of the bedroom door. There is also the sweetness. The handmade gifts. The breakfast in bed she brought me this morning. The insatiable need for knowledge. The never-ending stream of questions. The moments when she puts her head on my shoulder.
My 11-year old ham in San Francisco yesterday
Happy Birthday Princess. I can't wait to see what's next.