As I mentioned in my last post, today is Pumpkins fifth birthday. I find it a little surreal to think that my first baby is five. My intense little baby who always wanted to be in someone's arms (but wanted to be held so that she could look around- she hated being worn in a sling until she got big enough to face out), whose sleep patterns just about drove me insane, who grew into an intense little toddler with language skills that amazed us all, even her day care teachers- but who still got so frustrated by her inability to communicate that sometimes she resorted to biting, who potty trained in about two days, but then decided that she wouldn't use the potty, after all... well, she's a full on little girl now. Who loves to be in the center of the activity and won't play outside without someone out there with her because she gets lonely, but has learned how to play on her own, too. Who goes to sleep on her own and sleeps through the night in her own bed. Who never gets in trouble at day care anymore, and is in fact known for taking new toddlers at day care under wing. And yeah, she has the whole potty thing down, too.
This year, I've been surprised by how quickly she learned to read, and how well she's reading now. If she sees words written anywhere, she will read them, and she will pick just about any book off of one of the many shelves in our house that store the kids' books and try to read it. Once again, she is amazing all of us, even her day care teachers.
She's still enjoying her Chinese lessons. Recently we made flash cards to practice some words, and she likes to try to beat her record for the most remembered. Her teacher says her accent is good. Her tone deaf parents can't keep up.
She's still enjoying her soccer lessons and swim lessons, too, and the sight of her decked out in her soccer gear made me catch my breath in shock at how big she's getting. She's not the best soccer player in her class, but she's not terrible, either, and she doesn't seem to mind that some of the other kids are better than her.
She loves playing with Petunia, at least as long as Petunia will go along with the detailed games she invents, usually involving some sort of party. She has taught Petunia her favorite game of building a "cake" out of blocks and singing Happy Birthday to someone. Last weekend, she made a flag out of a page from one of her coloring books and a stick from the garden (with her Daddy's help), and led Petunia on a parade around our backyard.
Of course, it isn't all perfect. Sometimes Petunia won't do what Pumpkin wants, or wants to play with a toy Pumpkin doesn't want to share, and there are tears and sometimes Pumpkin storms off to her room and slams her door. She is still an unbelievably picky eater (but she's growing and healthy, so I've stopped worrying about that). She doesn't always listen to her parents- but what child does?
But to be fair, we're not always perfect parents, either. We do our best, and have learned as we went along. As my first child, Pumpkin was the one who started my lessons in learning to be Zen, which her sister has continued. From her, I learned to listen to the needs of the child in front of me, instead of the mythical child in the advice book or the child described by my friends and colleagues. She's still teaching me things, and I like to think I'm getting better at learning them. Most importantly, I've learned how to relax and enjoy the parenting ride- at least some of the time.
The last five years have been happy, crazy, frustrating, wonderful, and humbling. Happy birthday, Pumpkin. Thanks for everything.