Two separate sets of midwives, on two different continents no less, have told me upon the arrival of each of my children that I make a fine broodmare. In other words, I’m built to birth babies. One said that I must be born of “good European peasant stock.” Which is a direct quote. It’s something you don’t forget, especially when it’s eerily accurate from a genealogical perspective, given my Icelandic roots. (As an aside, true story: after both births, I was highly praised on my placenta. One said it should be in a text book.) And so it is. That’s my gift, and it’s a great one. But after the whole unmedicated childbirth feat of strength? Like, the child rearing part? My peasant ancestors left me with nada. But I’m trying.
Four hours old. I did good that day.
Edie is my first-born. My four year old. And today was her first parent teacher conference. It went well. Her teacher gets her. She told me not to take offense, but “your daughter is complicated.” Well said, lady. Edie’s teacher also remarked that one doesn’t need to wonder what Edie will be like when she’s an adult, because she already acts like one in so many ways. Equally astute.
But, I should clarify. She’s not an adult in the impulse-control sense. In the voice-modulation sense. Or in the knowing her audience sense, which means I hear just as many fart and poop jokes as any other parent. And so she screams and hits and generally freaks out, just like most kids her age. All from my mini grown up.
The thing that I think her teacher is getting at is Edie’s apparent discomfort in being a kid. There are times when her adult-nature is lovely. She’s a fabulous conversationalist. She loves to help around the house, and to tend to babies. But, that’s all assuming you can do things on four year old time, and that she has the capabilities to satisfactorily or at least safely do what she is trying to do. And that’s the catch. There are a whole lot of things a bitty kid just can’t do.
For instance. Back in 2012, I’m me, but super pregnant with my second kid me. I am home with Edie full time, and when I need to go far away, I need Edie in her car seat. She is less than 2 ½. I know this because of the pregnant thing. Edie asks one day if she can drive. I gently decline. She loses her mind. And we have weeks of her clammering to the steering wheel every time her waddling mom goes toward the car, apparently banking on my laziness for her success. “Well… I didn’t want her to drive… But she’s already there…” Finally one day, I wrestle her into her seat and she screams and kicks and implores me, WHYYYY can’t she drive? I told her that it’s the law. You have to be sixteen years old before you can drive. So, for the next several months, any time someone says “And how old are you, little girl?” my smug little daughter states, in her baby voice “SIXTEEN.”
When she was an infant, I believe about four months old, my blunt and not-so-snuggly German pediatrician informed me that “Your daughter… she does not know how to turn off.” I got his point, as my 8 pound daughter stared wide-eyed and wild, seemingly unable not to follow every shape and sound with her head. Until then, I didn’t really grasp that her manner was anything unique. But that’s how she’s remained. Hyper alert, breathing in every person, every interaction, every sensation around her. It’s kind of a lot.
The other day she accidentally saw roughly three minutes of NCIS or Law and Order, or something of that ilk. Will, my husband, had taken the kids to get take out and there was a TV mounted on the ceiling that apparently she noticed, though Will can’t recall. I’m pretty sure she did, though, because that brief encounter with a show she’d never seen on a TV placed feet and feet above her, inside a bustling restaurant, led her to come home, crumble into my arms and tell me that she just “saw the police and they were beating everybody and killing them with guns! Why would they do that, mommy?” She was shaken badly and maybe a teeny bit traumatized. I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about, and I had several questions for Will. There’s just no sparing that kid trauma, though. She’s still that four month old, head whipping around, trying to make sense of absolutely everything. But nowadays, she lets so much get to her heart, too.
That’s our Edie. She wants to skip ahead so badly. “Mom, when I’m a grown up, can we drink wine, eat salads, and chit chat?” “Mom, why do I have to wait to have a baby?” “Mom, I just wish I was you. I wish we were twins and I could always be with you and do everything you do.” I know, Edie Beans. I know. Will and I were laughing tonight because Edie is in piano classes these days. They are group lessons, and they learn a lot, but it’s light-hearted, with signing, and movement. Edie has taken to eschewing practicing finding where the different keys on a piano are, instead preferring to use her piano practice time to compose her own songs. Of course, she wants to move past the learning, the memorizing, the playing, and go straight to conducting her own works. Just like she adores writing, but has many times threatened that she will never learn her lower case letters, because she just wants to write cursive like me. From A straight to Z. Always.
Not anything we can do to change her, and we don’t try. Her temper is fierce, and we have to take measures to protect her brother now and again. Our motto is to work within her parameters when possible, and don’t give into the drama when it’s not. A lofty goal that we achieve some days more than others. But, as Edie said to me the other day, as I was mumbling about people parking badly which was making it hard to drive down the street:
“Mom, life is life. Sometimes, people just do stuff.”
There you go. She’s already skipped past college and self-help books all the way to spouting watered-down appropriations of Buddhist wisdom. Life is life, indeed.
Dishing on her classmates. Oh I know exactly who had to go to time out, everyday.