Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dear Ashlyn

I think I'll write letters to each of my girls this week.

Dear Ashlyn,

You are so far ahead of your time. You were saying things that blew our minds just weeks after you learned to walk. The time I used a diaper to wipe your nose on the changing table, you protested, "Don't wipe diapew!" You sang Happy Birthday to your Baba just a couple months after your first birthday. You were the first to pray before meals, naming every item on the table, one by one. You have a precocious knack for seeing the connections between things. And yesterday you insisted on sleeping in your beloved bridal gown.

And yet you are our baby. You are in no rush to potty train, too into whatever you're doing to hassle with all that anal retentive bother. Melía is your elder by 5 minutes, and though you outsize her by 11 pounds and a couple inches, she takes care of her "little" sister.

Your essence dances and sings. Even in the womb, you showed promise of becoming a hiphop dance star, gleefully pummeling your longsuffering sister below you. Your cradle roll Sabbath school class got weekly front-row seats for your ecstatic pirouttes around the classroom while the rest of the class engaged in more mundane activities (i.e. the planned ones). You bubble over with music, performing covers of previously produced hits (Spoonful of Sugar is one of the latest) as well as original compositions (usually a melange of words from church and Disney princess music, something like, "My dreams come true in my heart with my prince for baby Jesus"). You sing--and scream--with a strength worthy of the opera, savoring the power to produce sound (as much of it as possible). Amazingly, a lot of it is on pitch.

And your music has its own beat, changing meter every few measures, unsullied by the seduction of conformity to the rest of the orchestra. When the ballet teacher tells the class to "make a circle," the masses hold hands and form a ring on the floor; you spin in circles and giggle uncontrolably, pulling your skirt over your head, then down to your ankles. Yes, this sort of self-expression makes your Mommy and me a little nervous when you're singing in the church choir--but by the time you can read this it will be safe for you to know that we are as tickled as we are mortified by your random acts of craziness.

You are committed to having a good time, all the time--unless you've missed your nap. When other kids would cuss (or its 3-year-old equivalent), you just might crack up. You beg for tickling and giggle like a cascade of Gatorade, slaking the thirst of the dry soul. "Stop! Stop! Stop!" you cry, and pause just a beat before saying, "Do it again!" Most of your tantrums are only a silly word and a tickle away from hilarious laughter.

You are the child with whom I have been most angry. Too many times I have had to come to you, penitent for having lost my temper, heart broken, fearing that I have played a part in breaking the spirit that I so cherish in you. We are a lot alike--our individualism, focus on the moment, penchant for breaking things, playful spirit, silliness and infatuation wtih the sound of our own voice. Our similarities breed an affinity that is magical, and a frustration that is more about my own self-loathing than any fault in you.

I am sorry. I am so sorry.

And I love you more than I'll ever be able to show you.

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