("BG's" is a term Dad made up for "big girls". The little girls are "LG's". Helps with the team mentality.)
Birthdays in March. Took 'em to "treasure beach" for photos. Got to pick out a fancy store-made cake on their own. No parties. Just experiences. Gave Ruby cowboy boots, got a babysitter and we took Ruby to her first horse-back riding lesson. Gave Grace a new surfboard and she had her first surf lesson. Surrounded by love and attention, these girls turned 8 and 10.
My baby doll. You always have your fingers going. You're crocheting or drawing or writing or something. Nana sees you and continually says this is just how daddy was as a boy. You use trendy phrases like, "I know, right?" and "literally". You know the second when someone's kidding because you're savvy like that. You correct me on that pronunciation of not only people's first names, but people's last names. Names that I had no idea you actually even knew. You're like the CIA.
You've mentally separated yourself from the other girls and are now my friend, nanny and helper. They are now "The Girls" to you because no, you are not a part of them as much as you are now in the parent category. But you have learned that being a parent comes with its own frustrations. Everyone wants a piece of Tada and when she doesn't let you hug her or baby her, it's devastating because you want her trust more than anything. You have told me you may not want to go through childbirth (you know all the details) and may want to adopt. I fully support this baby Grace. I wanted to adopt when I was younger because there are so many little ones out there that need good parents.
You have an open heart, you're kind, and you're still very possessive. You give a lot to your sisters and friends and the rest? Well, it's yours and you will lay claim. Been like that since you were old enough to reach out and grasp something with your tiny fingers.
I came to play with you at recess months ago and was expecting to see you gathering friends together at the handball court and kindly making sure no one was left out. Maybe you would give up the ball to others so they may have a turn and certainly not speak up when you were treated unfairly. Instead, I observed you quickly explaining the rules, ball in your hand, to 5 other girls. They surrounded you, each at least 4 inches shorter than you, the wind blowing your hair while you stood immovable and domineering. You gained control of the ball whenever you could, holding everyone accountable to the rules with an unforgiving, "you're out!", clearly the leader of the game. My eyes widened in amazement. Expecting to feel defensive of you, instead I felt defensive of the little girls in your game. I was agape at your straight forwardness and realized you and I were cut from different cloths and I nearly cried right then and there at how I wish I was more like you. You kick butt, Grace.
I watched you bouncing a ball in the backyard the other night, dark eyebrows framing those lovely, friendly brown eyes. Looking down, you were strong and beautiful and your hair, your hair! If there was a liquid you I would extract the freckles and keep them in my pocket. The rest I'd give as an elixir to moms everywhere. You are that good. You're uplifting and supportive and help me so much.
Babies love you. Kids love you. Everyone does. But the one that loves you the most, with undying devotion, is Ruby. She doesn't make one choice that doesn't somehow involve or revolve around you. You are both so lucky to have each other.
Graciegirl, you will never be little again and I mourn the loss that each year brings while at the same time, looking forward to the future with you, my best little friend. You're amazing in every way. Stay close to me.
All the diamonds in the world are held in just one twinkle of one of your eyes. If people knew, they'd come and steal you away. But you're mine and we both know it. When Nana and Papa came to visit we went to the zoo. You kept walking back to where I was bringing up the rear (Tada walks slow) and holding my hand and kissing it every now and then. You finally asked toward the end of the afternoon if I felt left out when all the attention was on Nana and Papa. You spend too much time being concerned about your mama and everyone else. You could not even enjoy your kid time at the zoo in that moment that you were so worried about me.
You are obsessed with anatomy. Daddy and I will explain over and over how some nerves stretch from your brain all the way to your toes and you just cannot believe it. You exercise such spatial thinking for your age. Everything to you is in a sequence and you constantly notice that not one day or meal is the same. That not one person is the same. And you'll give drawn-out scenarios to prove this. Those are my favorite dinner conversations when Daddy lights up about it, too and we talk about it forever.
You also want a piece of Tada and she isn't as generous with letting you mother her like she is with Grace. You're younger and more of a teaser, so when she does gift you the privilege of snuggling her on the couch or helping her eat or drink, you treasure it! If Tada gets hurt you are unfailingly the first one on the scene. You're a born mother, just like Grace and all the rest.
You are the ga-ga ultimate champion. A hard feat for a girl, since it's a ruthless game of dodgeball you play at school where 20 boys and 3 or so girls start in the ring at one time. Girls don't last long and the boys are so serious about this game they bring their own gloves from home and play it until the last second of recess. You've been practicing for months. But Ruby, with your teeny little hands and elbows, you timid little thing, you beat every last boy that day. You drew a picture of it and wouldn't show or tell me about it until we walked all the way home from school, sat down, and had a snack. What a day for you. You beamed!
You want to know everything there is to know about love. How to fall in it, how you make up your mind to marry someone and all the rest. I go over examples of this to humor you but in truth, cannot ever give you up. You don't need to be big, ever. You can remain a deep-thinking statuette on the mantle of my heart. I can bask in your wisdom and warmth and I never have to share you with the world. Will you? Please? Forever and ever?
Happy Birthday, babies!