Sunday, February 19, 2012

Letter to Daisy, age 2 1/2

 Dear Daisy,

I was hanging up some clean clothes in my closet yesterday, and you came to join me.  You had your baby doll and you were putting her in her "mammas"---which are pajamas, of course.  You sat her up in her high chair (our bathroom stool) and gave her pancakes, which you called "takes."  I made the mistake of asking if they were cakes, and you corrected me immediately: "Not birthday takes!  TAN-takes!"  Slowly the cake idea took hold,  though, as so many ideas do in that little wispy head of yours, and in a few minutes they had morphed into birthday cakes.  You sang, "Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, may all that you wish come true," and then you sang "Happy birthday dear Daisy" and turned to me in delight: "Baby boo tando-dout!" I'm your mother, Daisy, so I understood: "baby blew the candles out!" I love your language. It looks like baby talk when I write it, but it's more like a foreign tongue: exotic, trickling and watery, but clearly meaningful.
You're holding "Tiny Purple Car," your favorite
The way you seize on any idea you hear, and then make it your own, is one of the things that makes you such a delightful companion.  You don't talk, you converse.  At the table the other day, your brothers and I were talking about the glaciers getting bigger in Antarctica.  "Daisy's getting bigger TOO!" you hurried to add.  You held your arms straight up above your head in case we didn't get the picture.  You copy your brothers in the way they talk (your robot voice saying "does-not-compute" is one of the funniest things ever) and in the way they interact, right down to saying, "I need to go to the bathroom.  Don't take my soup!" when you leave the table. (Only you pronounce soup  "boop", of course.)  Your daddy and I aren't sure why everyone's so all-fired worried about soup theft in this family, but if your brothers are, we can be certain you are too.
Only six months ago we were wondering if you would ever really talk.  Oh, you said words all right, but you were taciturn.  You kept your own counsel and certainly never parroted something on command.  We didn't ever really worry, but we just wondered.  What was going on in that tiny, almost-bald head of yours?  I guess the urge to talk grew in with your hair.  Now you wear "no-nee tails" and I can hardly get you to stop talking!  You like to hear yourself talk and sing, certainly (you were singing the other day, "Jeg har et aeble," a little Danish song Grandma Nelson and I sing to you, and when I started to join in, you ran over to me and put a restraining little hand on my arm.  "Diet, mommy," you ordered, and seeing my surprised expression, amended it to, "Peeeeease be diet?") but you also like an appreciative audience. If anyone else gets up to perform, you run to join them, standing at the front of a crowd like you were born to it.  When your brothers practiced for a performance of "Reverence is Love" in church a few weeks ago, you always insisted on having your own verse to do, "my durn." The amazing thing wasn't that you learned that whole song at age 2 1/2, little Daisy---I've always known there were a lot of amazing talents behind those bright eyes of yours.  The amazing thing was that Daddy was able to keep you from running up to join them during the performance, as you felt so sure of yourself and so entitled to a place in that group.  Don't worry; you'll be there next time.  It was only because you are too small to show over the pulpit that we kept you out for now.

When we tell you you have to do something you don't like, you hurriedly examine the situation to see if there's a way out of it.  Sometimes it works, like when we tell you you need to cheer up or else be put to bed early.  "I AP-py!" you assure us, tearfully.  Other times, like when you want to zip up your coat yourself (but you don't know how), we have to be firmer.  "Daisy, you need to let me zip you," we say.  "I doooo!" you wail, meaning you DON'T.  I suppose this must have come from some long-forgotten scenario in the past: maybe we asked if you wanted more lunch and when you said you didn't and we said it was time for nap, maybe you changed your mind and said: I DO!  Whatever the case, now you think it's the magic phrase to end all oppression.
"Okay Daisy, you need to get in the car now." "I doooooooo!"
"Daisy, give Malachi his birdie back." "I dooooooo!"
"Come upstairs for bed!"  "No, I doooooo!"
You can't stand it that we agree with you.  "That's right, you DO need to come upstairs," we say, smirking.  "I doooooo!" you argue again, unsure why we're being so thick about it.
You really are the most persistent little "do-it-myself"-er I've ever met.  For months now, you've been dressing yourself, doing your own buttons, and putting on your own socks and shoes.  Long after your brothers would have given up and turned to me in despair, holding their tangled-up, inside-out clothing, you come skipping into my bedroom and chirp, "Ididda yite?"  "Is this the right [way]?" is what you mean.  You'd think after 4 or 5 "ididda yite"s, you'd give up in despair, but you don't, and you don't want help either.  You just turn the pants around again, or switch the shoes again, until you finally get it right and yell "I diddit!" triumphantly.  Sometimes by the time I hear that, it's been so long that I've forgotten what you were trying to do in the first place.  It's a happy sound, that "I diddit!", but a slightly worrisome one too.  Earlier tonight you ran upstairs with a game from the game closet, calling "I diddit!" happily.  I knew you couldn't reach that shelf yourself, so I asked, "Did someone help you?"

"Um, yep!" you said proudly.  "Me!"  When Daddy went down to check it out, he found a small path of destruction where you'd climbed up to reach.  You've had quite a few of those "triumphs"---plates of cookies you've reached on the counter, pens carefully hidden away from you that you've found anyway and colored with.  You're learning and doing so many new things, I can't begrudge you your sense of pride in accomplishment.  I'm impressed with you myself!
Daisy, you have a fine sense of symmetry, born from reading so many stories, maybe.  You've sat on our laps for stories ever since you were a new baby unable to hold your own head up, so we'd curl you back against our bellies like a tiny pink comma.  We weren't really reading to you, of course---that's the thing about being fourth; you're never really the main show.  There was always someone older and more insistent wanting to pick out the books.  So instead of Colors and Spot's Treasure Hunt you were sitting though The Funny Thing and The Amazing Bone.  At age two, you've developed an attention span for stories that would put many a 6-year-old to shame.  Not to say you don't love the baby classics: Bunny and Me, Hug, Tickle Tum, Tall.  That's where your wish for symmetry comes in.  You can't stand to have some sad character without a corresponding happy one, so you'll go from page to page pointing.  "Eeez appy! Eeez sad. Eeez appy! Eeez sad." If someone sad doesn't become happy within the actual story itself, you make it up.  If there's a big lion, there must be a tiny lion somewhere too.  If someone's tall, you'll find someone small to go with him.  If I say you can have a little bit of cake, you counter, "I neeeda hava BIG bit!"
For someone who got startled by the blender noise while still in the womb (I turned it on and you leaped in my stomach, making me yelp with surprise), you've proved very brave.  Now when you hear the blender, you yell above it "I yiiiiike dat noise!"  You love the villain in Creepy Castle---the sneaky guy, we call him, but you call him "the hee hee hee guy" because that's what he does: walks away going hee hee hee behind his hand.  "I'm da hee hee hee die," you say, in a creaky little voice.  "BAM! I slammed da door!  I dode you!  Hee hee hee!"  But you're remarkably kindhearted too. Another thing you love is to pretend you're a scary lion---or a "doedee yion!" as you'd say.  RAAAR, you roar at me, and are delighted when I'm appropriately scared.  I've started showing my pretend-fear the same way you do---by waving my two fists in front of my chin, elbows tucked in tight, and murmuring "Ooooh noo!  I'm so scared!" (You say scared like "dode.")  I guess I'm pretty convincing because you always take pity on me.  "roar!" you chirp in your tiniest voice.  "I'm a diny yion! Now do-dust a DINY bit dode."  If I still seem nervous, you go right to your next role.  "Now a bunny," you say sweetly.  "Oppy oppy oppy!"

You know how I can't resist a bunny, and it doesn't help when you ask if I'll snuggle you afterwards.  "Nunno," you call "snuggle," which I always think at first is "tunnel," which is really what you like to do: in the mornings, you climb into our bed and tunnel in between daddy and me.  Then you lie there happily, sucking your thumb and flapping the corner of your blanket back and forth against your cheek.  Sometimes you hold out your thumb to see if we want a taste.  (We never do.)  When you're between us, we protest sometimes, and sometimes we even hold firm about it (we really do like snuggling each other best, you know, Daisy!) but often we just let you burrow in, laughing to each other over your wispy head.  "Why is she so tiny?  Why is she so cute?" we say to each other, knowing there's no answer.  Except the one we always give, blaming each other.  "YOU made her so sweet!"  "YOU made her so funny!"  We marvel at you every day as we "nunno" you, sweet Daisy, hardly able to believe you're ours.
It makes sense that scary ("doe-dee") sounds almost exactly like dirty ("doe-dee") in your language, because being dirty is one thing you really hate.  Even when you were a baby, we went to Arches and put your little toesies in the soft red sand.  You sprang your feet back up into the air like a frog and HOWLED at us like we'd just committed the ultimate betrayal.  Maybe it's a bit of a phobia (but who am I to judge that, little one?) but it made toilet training easier, for sure.  And when you're dirty you've been able to show us some of your bravest moments.  Like the time you spilled juice on your shirt.  You ran over to me at the sink.  Clearly you were just barely holding it together.  "Mah-mee?" you hiccuped in your trembliest voice, "I dink I billed it."  I reassured you that it was fine, we'd clean it, we'd wash it.  "O-day," you kept repeating.  "O-day, we dean iddup."  You even tried smiling a watery smile.  You do that quivering "O-day" all the time when disappointment comes: when we are short with you, when we are calling GET IN BED! at you for the fifteenth time (there were a few bad days after you learned to climb out of your crib), when we're holding Junie so we can't pick you up.  You let us wash your blanket when it gets dirty (a dirty blanket is worse than no blanket to you, which is saying something) but you have to summon up all your courage as you watch me put it in the washer.  "O-day, nane-net be dean now," you reassure me, and yourself.  I don't know what drives you to want to be so brave, but seeing you holding back tears, lips trembling, hardly able to choke out "O-day!" is definitely one of the most heart-wrenching sights we see these days.  On the other hand, when I bring your blanket to you all warm and fluffy out of the dryer, your joyful "Nane-net!" and your shining eyes are just about the happiest sight I've seen.
And those eyes, little Daisy!  They've been your most distinguishing feature since that first day you looked up at me from Daddy's and my bed.  I was so tired and so happy and so amazed I had a baby girl.  I'd heard the story my whole life of my own Mom's reaction to getting a girl after three boys.  "Are you sure?" she kept asking the nurses in disbelief, as they washed me up.  When I had you, I was lucky to be at home, so I didn't have to part with you for a second. I held you on my bare chest as your slippery blue fish-skin turned to pink baby-skin.  But I felt that same disbelief anyway.  "Is this really a baby girl?"  And then you turned your little black eyes upward and stared at me.  I'd never seen any baby so alert and bright-eyed. Daddy and I both commented on it.  "Look at her bright little eyes!" we exclaimed again and again.  "She sees us; she's thinking about us!"

We'd been deliberating for months and months about your name by then.  Without knowing if you were a girl or a boy, though, we never really got serious about it.  After the midwives left and we sat in bed holding you and cooing at you while the sun came up, we went through our girl list again.  I had kind of thought you might be Violet, a name I love.  But you kept those bright eyes fixed trustingly on our faces, and we knew you'd be Daisy, then---that brave, bright little flower.  Daisies were named for the "day's eye," you know, meaning the sun, the brightest eye of all.  Now that you're two, you've seen our our daisy fields a few times.  They grow wild here by the lake in June, thousands of them. They're beautiful, but not just beautiful---they're so resilient, cheerful, and tenacious.  Even the tiny ones turn their little faces up so bravely toward the sun. When I was pregnant with you, the boys and I would go out in the mornings and walk through those daisy fields as long as they lasted.  Your brothers would run through the flowers, sometimes picking little bouquets which they would present to me proudly.  We lay in the sun dreaming of who you would be.
That day you were born, we named you Aurora too; Aurora to remind us, and you, of the dawn that morning.  From my bed as I held my new pink bundle, I could see the temple spire, a reminder of God's dawning light over the earth.  That temple, our temple, was born that month just like you, Daisy---it was dedicated later in August.  Do you know that Oquirrh means shining?  And that sunrise!  The pinks and oranges started out so delicate and hopeful, coming over our mountains.  Then they blazed up like fire. You were like that to us, Daisy: that sudden light. That shining morning, full of promise. Every day your name gets more appropriate for you: our bright-dawning morning, our bright little flower, always turning to the light.

I love you, my Daisy girl!

Love,
Mommy

2 comments:

  1. This is Beautiful. Not that I'm surprised.

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  2. Every time I read you, I'm so proud. Just as if you were mine, too. And I suppose that friendship makes you mine in a way. I'm so glad you and Ginna were friends. Certainly, that I can be small witness to your passage as you make it. My mother used to say to me, "I hope you have one just like you." It wasn't meant to be a blessing. And I did. I had four who, all mixed together are just like me. I don't know your mom, but I have to love her, seeing her through you - and Daisy? Blessing meant or not (sorry Mom), she is just like you.

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