September 23, 2012

Happy birthday, Bruce Springsteen who my daughter pronounces “Bruce Stingsteen”

I want to write about my baby girl because tomorrow she turns four years old.

I want to write an ode to her beauty, those soft brown curls and the wide, earnest eyes. “Do you know what’s the most beautiful part of you?” I ask her sometimes, half in a whisper so I can bring my lips close to her full cheeks and smell her scent.

“My love,” she answers.

“Your beautiful heart and your beautiful mind,” I tell her.

She nods, sagely. “Today, I have purple love.”

I want to write about her humor, because she is my funniest child. I’ve heard it said that laughter is like the tinkling of bells, but I never understood it before I watched my daughter shake with mirth that overtakes her from her eyes through to the hands she brings up to her cheeks in delight.

I want to write about her mind, the questions she asks that show that beneath all the sweetness, she’s sharp as a tack. Her words come slowly, so slowly for a Rosenbaum, and we must be patient as she decides which word is just the right one. She has the vocabulary and the syntax, but she struggles with the physical articulation and knows too many synonyms to choose from, so we wait, and the questions reveal a mind that is always chewing on something. “Do they tell you what you have to name the baby,” she wants to know all of a sudden, “or do the parents just pick anything?” And, “does it hurt when boys wipe their p-nises with toilet paper?”

I want to write about her calm, her unflappability in the face of chaos. I want to write about her tender heart and deep feeling for other people. I want to write about this person who seems to instinctively understand how others are feeling, what they need, and how to make them feel good.

But I can’t. I can’t truly write about her because there is so much of her I do not understand. She’s all social interaction as she scampers off to play with her friends, the picture of childhood exuberance, and I know that is authentic, with no angst underneath. And I know that if something is upsetting her, she’ll have an accident. And I know she’s thinking deep within there, thinking of something that sometimes comes out but so often stays below. But she is one of those people it takes a moment to love and yet years of careful study to begin to understand.

She cannot be understood in words, but only in moments, visions, feelings. Her thumb in her mouth, pigtails flying, pink polka dot pants below a brown corduroy dress as she runs across the playground. The way she fits against my body when I pick her up after school and lift her into my arms. Her words coming quickly and comfortably when she is deep within imaginative play. Her adoration for her seven-year-old friend, a hero-worship so pure it’s crystalline.

I want to write about her, to memorialize her as she is in this amazing fourth year. Someday it will all be so far in the past, and if I could just capture her in words or photographs… But I can’t. These still waters run so deep, and loving her will always, always be the process of learning and knowing. Admiring she who is so different from myself. I wish I could at least post for you a picture, but even that would show you nothing.

She is simply the most beautiful human being I have ever known.

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  • Reply Caroline September 23, 2012 at 1:40 am

    lovely! Your love for and awe of your sweet girl is palpable. Wish her the happiest of birthdays!

  • Reply WendyElissa September 23, 2012 at 2:44 am

    How beautiful.

  • Reply Jennifer September 23, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    You just squeezed my heart, hard. Happy birthday, Lilah. (Your mommy’s pretty freaking amazing, too.)

  • Reply Poker Chick September 23, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    Beautiful, just beautiful. Happy birthday, Lilah!

  • Reply Melanie September 24, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    happy birthday Lilah! my own daughter turned 4 on may 30th and i sit here typing with one hand because she just flew to my lap for a cuddle. 4 is awesome

  • Reply Rina September 24, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    Beautiful words for a beautiful daughter by a beautiful mother.

  • Reply Catherine September 25, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    This is my favorite part, because I know exactly what you mean: I wish I could at least post for you a picture, but even that would show you nothing.

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