The Fifth Day of The Fifth Month

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

On Facebook today, someone brought up a good point. When did Mexico’s defeat of the French in 1862 become a drinking holiday here in the States?

I don’t know, but I don’t question holidays that are designated for the sole purpose of drinking.  To be honest, I didn’t even know that was why May 5th was so significant to Mexico until I read that. I never asked.  It’s kind of just turned into what St. Patrick’s Day has become – a day to get wasted among the traditional dress, cuisine and/or people of a certain descent. And who am I to say ‘no’ to quesadillas and tequila?

However, today holds a different significance to me now. My Goddaughter is three years old today. I really can’t believe it. I remember the day she was born as though it happened last week.  I was still in New York, packing my dorm room up to move home for the summer. My parents were there, helping me with the last minute details I should have finished days ago.  We were waiting impatiently as we got text updates from my uncle, until finally we got that first picture. I remember I was sad I couldn’t be there and hoped she would forgive me for not being able to meet her in her first 24 hours of life. We headed home and directly to the hospital the next day, though, so hopefully she’ll forgive me.

I once got to babysit her when she was about a year old. Just me and her all night. She didn’t talk yet, but it didn’t matter. We played all kinds of games, we danced to country music, I read her stories, we had a Godmother/Goddaughter photo shoot. I was sad when I had to put her to bed.

I remember the first time she said my name unprompted.  We were in my kitchen and we had been crawling under the table and popping out to “scare” unsuspecting victims as they walked by.  Or as they sat in the attached dining room.  After a while, I got up to go take a sip of my soda and I hear a tiny voice from under the table call out, “Auntie Balerie, come here!”  I froze and looked back and, sure enough, she was talking to me. I looked back at the table of adults and their looks of shock confirmed it – she had said my name.  She had sort of said it before after having people say, “Can you say ‘Auntie Valerie’?” but this was the first time she called out to me and it made my heart swell.

I remember the first time she melted my heart. We were at her Mimi’s house [my aunt, her grandmother] and we were running around in circles, chasing each other and roaring like monsters, tickling our prey when it was caught.  After a few loops around the four connected rooms, I dramatically threw myself down on the living room floor. I said, “Phew! I need a break!” and she laughed like it was the funniest joke she’d ever heard. She then plopped herself down next to me and sighed with a big grin on her face and said, “I love you, Auntie Balerie.”

I almost cried my first happy tears as I looked into her big, bright eyes and told her I loved her too before wrapping my arms around in her in a big bear hug that ended in another tickle-fight.

Every time I see her it seems her vocabulary has quadrupled. She’s like a mini-teenager now, constantly teetering between sweet and sassy. Have you ever seen an almost-three-year-old be sassy? It’s the cutest thing you can imagine. Not bratty, not mean. Sassy. Like, she’s funny and she knows it.  She has already figured out that she’s adorable enough to negotiate for things she wants without having to throw tantrums or cry. And she’s smart. Coming from someone who has studied child development, I’m telling you, she’s smart.  I would say that I’m biased but honestly I was worried about her for a while because she spoke so late and she crawled like a zombie child.  So I know I have the ability to think she might not be smart. But she is. She went right from not talking into full sentences. She skipped the stage [at least, it was short enough that I didn’t see it] that most kids hold onto for years, asking for things by their name or in phrases – “Cookie!” or “I have cookie?”.  She went directly for, “Can I have a cookie?”.  Actually that’s a lie, she referred to herself in the third person, like Elmo. In fact, I think she still does sometimes. But that’s also normal for children her age. She can zipper things like she was born on a zipper farm – a skill I’ve had to attempt to teach five year olds before – often unsuccessfully.  And she’s so genuinely sweet. She once noticed a cut I had on my arm and she exclaimed, “Oh no! A boo-boo! Do you want a band-aid?”.  I told her it was okay, it didn’t hurt and she she replied with, “Okay. I just kiss it instead.” and proceeded to kiss my arm.

Could you eat her up? I could eat. her. up.

Anyway, my point was, I can’t believe she’s three and I can’t wait to see her this weekend. I love her to pieces and can’t wait to see what kinds of things she comes up with next. My favorite phrase I’ve heard out of her so far is, “I can’t believe my eyes!”.

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~ by Valerie Anne on 05/05/2011.

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