This weekend we “celebrated” your sixth birthday. I use the quotations because the curse of your having been born in December means you are sick on your birthday more often than not. All the more reason to be thankful for hosting that roller skating birthday party for your friends back in July! As your mom, it is always hard for a December 8 to go by without acknowledging how much you have changed my life, and to marvel at how far we’ve come together in the past year.
And I’m not going to lie, parenting you this past year has not exactly been a picnic.
Five was rough. So much change, and so much drama: some anticipated, much of it unwelcome. Your father disappeared back in March, leaving you sad and confused until mid-summer, when he suddenly resurfaced. I, of course, knew exactly where he was, but you need at least five more years under your belt before I believe you can handle the truth of why he disappears and where he goes on these long stretches of absence. This time was particularly rough because you had so many questions I couldn’t answer (because damn, are you smart) and you were fearful of letting me out of your sight (nobody could blame you). You also developed a bit of a sass-mouth that I blame in equal parts on your genetic link to me and those awful girls in Pre-K who introduced you to Justin Bieber at such a young age. Pre-K! This year you left your beloved daycare, graduating from Ms. Cheryl’s Pre-K class in August, launching in to the wide world of elementary school in the early fall. This change was just as hard on me as it was on you. We grieved together. I still look fondly across the street from my work at your old daycare, and remember all the mornings of early drop-offs and the love that surrounded you (and me) while you went there. Kindergarten has been an entirely new ball game. New teachers and new rules, every week a new theme, School Spirit Days to remember (God forbid you be the only child not dressed in camouflage when Mrs. Gee’s class is vying for the big prize of movie day), fundraisers every other week, and, your favorite aspect of school: homework.
Yes, homework. Let’s move away from the difficulties of parenting you at age five and focus on the great things about you. You love homework. Prior to kindergarten, you hoarded preschool workbooks Gigi seemed to buy you in mass quantities, and worked on them intently any chance you had. At the beginning of kindergarten, you whipped through the worksheets and reading homework sent home every Friday, then you would cry because it was all done before dinner and now you had to wait a whole ‘nother week to get some more. You learned to pace yourself sometime in October, savoring your worksheets every Friday evening, working on some, saving others for Saturday or even Sunday. Mrs. Gee raised the bar in November and now sends you harder reading homework each week, a Level 2 Chapter book every Friday with a quiz at the end. This can keep you busy, content (and even sometimes frustrated) for nearly an hour. You almost gave up on the first mystery book she sent home because halfway through, long before the Mystery of the Double Cross was solved, you got scared and didn’t want to finish. You read the last few chapters with one hand over your face, peeking through your fingers.
Oh Zoey. You spent this year playing school, working on puzzles of the United States, forcing me to read all those god-awful Fairy books, mass-producing some great art work, and obsessively listening to Mr. Know It All, by Kelly Clarkson. You learned to fall asleep in your own bed and that a few days spent at Oma and Grandpa Paul’s house could be good for the soul (also that Mommy will always come back to get you). We spent hours playing Slamwich and, late in the year, much to my joy, you discovered you like the show the Gilmore Girls, which I started watching from Season One sometime early in the fall. You are fascinated by Paris Geller and Luke’s nephew, Jess. You don’t know it yet, but we’re on Season Three and Rory is about to graduate from high school, which means she’ll soon be sleeping around and the show will take on a few more “adult themes”, so I’ll have to censor the episodes you watch with me.
In fact, the Gilmore Girls on DVD was part of the way we “celebrated” your birthday this weekend, as you squirmed uncomfortably on the couch, fighting off a fever and a wicked cough. We spent your day watching movies, ordering pizza, and huddling under blankets together. Not really the weekend we had planned, but I didn’t mind and you didn’t seem to mind, either. My days of your wanting to spend hours on end curled at my side are coming to an end, I’m sure, and I don’t think there will many more birthdays where I write about how you spent most of the year wanting to be stitched to my side. Happy Six, Zo-Bug. Your mama loves you.