Monday, November 3, 2008

Birthday letter to the Bean

Bean-girl, you turned four this weekend. I am still having trouble comprehending this. It’s such a huge number! The day after your birthday, you sat on my lap and said, “Mommy, I’m four now. I’m not three anymore.” I think you are used to the idea, as you have spent what seemed like unending weeks talking about it.

You said that when you turned four you would go to sleep by yourself in your own bed. And for the past month you’ve been attempting it. When I or your father try to lie down in bed with you after story time, you firmly ask us to leave. You say you want to go to sleep by yourself. Then, two minutes later, you show up in our bedroom (or downstairs by the computer—you track us down) with your stuffed sting ray and stuffed penguin in tow and complain that you cannot fall asleep. So a parent treks backs with you to your room, and we do the usual snuggle-till-sleep routine. You spend most of this time complaining that you can’t sleep and won’t sleep, and you flip and flop and chatter ceaselessly until you finally pass out. Right now, as I type this, your father is passed out in your bed alongside you.

Your birthday party was a success. I am so pleased to report this. After days of rain and cloud, it warmed up for Halloween, and the day of your party was gorgeous. It was one of those perfect, dream-like autumn days, when everything seems both lit from within and bathed in golden light. Only two of your friends showed up (only two of 8 invitees even RSVPed! Bad manners!), and though both you and I had been initially disappointed by this, it turned out not to matter on the actual day of your party. Your best friend was there, with whom it would not be a good birthday. And a new classmate was there, little J, and her mother. It was the day after Halloween, and the orchard was nearly empty of people, so strangely deserted after the crowds of two weeks ago. It was as though everything—the petting zoo, the clear sky, the sunlight and golden trees—was there just for you. You and your friends ran past all the animals, marveled at the hen that had escaped its cage, pushed each other on a porch swing. You all LOVED the hayride, the first hayride for any of you. Your friend Lisa did not want to pick a miniature pumpkin at the pumpkin patch, but you picked out two smooth, flawless specimens—one for you and one for Baby Legume.

Everyone shook maracas as you blew out the candle on your cake.

You had a little tussle with your best friend in front of the corn maze. She wanted to go through the maze again, but our other little guest wanted to see the animals. As Lisa stepped to enter the maze, the other mommies and I started yelling No, wait! We’re going to see the animals first, Lisa! And in your panic to steer Lisa in the “right” direction, you grabbed Lisa’s hair. She promptly shoved you and yelled, "Don’t do that!" "No pushing, anyone!" I said sternly. Then, upon being told that you had pulled her hair (I didn’t actually see it), I told you to apologize to her. And you responded by crying. .

You cried all through the corn maze. Lisa had immediately gotten over the tiff, and kept yelling cheerfully, “Bean-girl, come on! Come on! Come with us!” But you would not run after your friends. Instead, I had to carry you as you sobbed great, loud, heaving, snot-spilling sobs. You were completely incoherent. One of the other mothers held Legume’s hand for me, and toddler Legume carefully and seriously put one foot after another through the length of the maze.

The other girls kept calling your name as they ran ahead of us (your father, if you wish to know, was left behind at the picnic area; I can’t now recall why). Finally, something snapped you out of your sobs; I can’t recall what that was either, just that you suddenly cheered, left my arms, and ran after your friends. Then you were all three of you running and laughing and shaking your cheap plastic maracas as the wind rustled through the dry corn stalks.

You and Lisa were best friends again. When it was time to say goodbye, you hugged and kissed as usual. “Happy birthday, Bean-girl,” Lisa said. And you said to her solemnly, “Lisa, for all of my birthdays, I would like to invite you.”

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Bean-girl, you are so grown-up sometimes, so articulate and resourceful and seemingly grown. Then you break down, you throw a tantrum, you get tired and the preschooler vanishes and a toddler-Bean (who doesn’t use her words) comes back. I am still trying to make sense of all this, as I know that you are as well.

When I saw you for the first time in the delivery room, I was stunned by your beauty. That perfect rosebud mouth. The shock of black hair. “She’s beautiful,” I recall saying in awe.

But I could not imagine then the beauty you are today. How perfect you still seem in your sleep. And the laughter and light in your eyes.

Happy fourth birthday, Bean-girl.

8 comments:

ScientistMother said...

Happy Birthday Bean Girl. I am so happy it all turned out so awesome

ScienceGirl said...

I am sure the Bean Girl will treasure your beautiful letters some day. Happy Birthday to her, and congrats to you!

ruchi aka arduous said...

Aw, I'm so glad that when Bean Girl is an adult, you will have these letters to share with her. Happy birthday to her! And for both you and Bean Girl, I hope 4 is even more exciting and rewarding than 3 was!!

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

That was beautiful. What is with all my blog buddies making me cry this week? (You too Ruchi!)

Mimi said...

YAY! Happy Birthday Bean. I am happy the birthday turned out nice. This letter is beautiful.

ScienceMama said...

Happy birthday, Bean-girl. Happy birthday.

Science Cog said...

Hey Bean Mom, great to read about your child's birthday. Happy Birthday. My kid's birthday is coming up soon and of course I haven't planned a bit. Even missed the star of the week poster. Will do that in the winter break. All's well on my end - just crazy busy. Sounds like you are doing good too.

The bean-mom said...

Sciencecog,

I missed the fact that it was Bean-girl's "Special Helper" day at school the other week, and forgot to bring in special treats for the classroom. Bad mommy.

Oh, well. Good luck on your kid's upcoming birthday party!

And thanks to everyone else!