Five years ago, you were somewhat of an abstract being to me. I had no idea what was coming, and no matter how many babies I was around, it couldn’t have prepared me.
My first impression of you was the angry baby being carried past me in the operating room. Your face was screwed up in an awful expression, angry at what you considered an untimely birth, angry at the doctor who pulled you out of your warm comfortable home into the bright, cold world. You spent the next six months angry at the world, and it took every ounce of strength and patience from your father and me to calm you, comfort you, and show you that life wasn’t as bad as you thought it was.
Each subsequent birthday has presented us with a different child. Your first birthday, you were the girl who loved all the attention, but loved the cake even more as you attempted to eat the cake without hands by face-planting into it.
At two you shunned the crowd and most of the presents in favor of the safety of my lap and a few selected toys.
Three was a child who howled in pain when we sang happy birthday to you, hiding under the table to escape the auditory assault, only to later reappear and gorge yourself on the cake frosting.
Your fourth birthday was filled with balloons and friends, and this time you took notice of the friends around you, although you still didn’t want to share your balloons. We knew you didn’t like singing, so we settled for all saying “Happy birthday!” in unison, at a loud, but not-too-loud volume for you.
And now you’re five.
At this year’s birthday party, I expect to see you playing with your friends and if not enjoying the small crowd of people, at least tolerating your guests. You will tell me or your father when you feel overwhelmed, and even though it will likely come out as, “I’m scared of presents” or “I want to stay in my house forever,” we will know what you mean. You’ll eat your cake, and if all goes as planned you won’t suffer from a tummy ache or a behavior shift thirty minutes later because this year’s cake won’t have any artificial dyes or corn syrup in it. We now know what you need to be happy.
I still can’t believe you’re five. Five feels so much older, as if I somehow missed that transformation from baby to big kid. I watch your concentration on puzzles, and I swear I can see your mind working behind that furrowed brow. When did you learn to concentrate? I wonder what happened to that goofy toddler I remember, counting everything in sight.
And I’ll confess I don’t wonder much about what happened to that sensitive, hair-trigger tempered preschooler and the screaming meltdowns that occurred on a regular basis. Some things are better left in the past.
I’m pretty amazed at the awesome little girl you’ve become, Cordelia. I can’t wait to see who you’ll become in this next year. Happy birthday to my Amazon warrior princess.