Saturday, July 1, 2017

Zuzu is Five

You guys. My rainbow baby turned five. 

(Which I'm a little sad about ONLY because she's been telling everyone for months that she's "four and three quarters" and I'm kind of bummed that now it's just "five," although give her a week and she'll declare herself "five and a half.")

Five years ago, we were still calling Baby Duck #2 "The Deuce." And I detailed every moment of her birth here (you're welcome). And yes, I was still missing her sister.

And somehow, that beautiful baby is all grown up into this beautiful little stinker--our master negotiator who is teaching her little sister every trick she knows. She makes me crazy almost as often as she melts my heart. She never stops asking questions. She is willing to strike up a conversation with any adult we meet, but when she's around kids she doesn't know, she'll hide behind me and whisper that she's "a little shy."

She still says "lellow" for yellow and "aminal" for animal and "firty" for thirty. She has quite an imagination and no sense of appropriate voice volume. She was down in the basement, absorbed in playing with little characters when I carried her birthday decorations (a couple banners and a wreath on the door) and some Fourth of July decorations upstairs and put them up, and she was so delighted when she saw them. She clapped her hands and said, "Mommy! How did you DO this? You buh-prised me!"

She's a big fan of buh-prises.

Little Sister is always a half step behind her, mimicking everything she does. Coco is no pushover, so they go head to head pretty often. Overall, though, they truly love each other and their sister relationship is one of the best gifts I can imagine (for them, and for me). My greatest fear is losing one of them--not just because it would shatter me, but because I know what an enormous and devastating loss that would be for the other one (a loss that I recognize, even if they don't experience it as such, when I imagine every day what it would be like to have three little girls lined up for photos). What I want more than anything in this world is for them to grow up and stay best friends.

These girls have brought so much light to our lives, and they are so, so loved. I try to talk to them a lot about being grateful and being aware of how lucky we are, so I was slightly bummed when she opened all her birthday gifts, was very excited about them, and then turned to David and me and said, "Why didn't you get me more presents?"

(I realize she was referring to her enjoyment of the whole process--ripping open packages, being the center of attention, discovering something hidden--but still, it was not exactly what I hoped would come out of her mouth after being showered with gifts.) 

Funny kid that she is, she didn't want a birthday cake. She wanted blueberry muffins. She kind of changed her mind at the last minute and said she wanted a cupcake with pink frosting (she's a sucker for pretty decorations even if she doesn't like sweets) so David bought a cupcake for her and one for Coco and then Coco ate both of them. Zuzu ate more blueberry muffins.

We celebrated her birthday early while we were at the beach (made blueberry muffins there) and then we celebrated again with a "family party" on the 29th with just the four of us at home having pasta (her request) after going to the pool (We also had blueberry muffins) and opening gifts. 

Zuzu really wanted a party with her friends at our house, and she kept requesting that, but I knew that I wouldn't have the time or energy to pull that off right after getting home from out of town. I also think an elaborate birthday party with friends is something we'll move to doing every other year (evens), and then we'll have a "family party" or event (like going to a show or an amusement park) on the odd years.

This year she got an event, and she chose the Magic House, which is also known as My Waking Nightmare--too many people in close proximity, other people's children crying and screaming, "Mommy!", not being able to keep track of my own kids, and never being able to get them to cooperate for a picture (I mean, WHAT IS THE POINT of my sacrifice in dragging myself to the Magic House if you won't even let me DOCUMENT IT???). But that's what she wanted, and the bright spot in the day (for me) was that we were able to meet up with one of her friends from school.

This little friend is a boy who just turned 3 in March, so he's quite a bit younger than Zuzu (closer to Coco's age, really), and Zuzu has just taken him under her wing in the sweetest way. She loves to look out for him and take care of him, and she knows the things that he's interested in (trains and trucks) and told me that she was going to show him the trains and trucks at the Magic House and do what he wanted to do while they were there. 

I'll be honest, I have moments when I wonder if I'm raising a sociopath, but her friendship with and concern for this little guy really makes visible the kindness in her little heart. I love it so much (and his mom was so sweet about expressing her appreciation for Caroline, it truly made my day). 

But of course that didn't stop her from whining about having a birthday party at her house. (Eyeroll.)

We compromised with a "birthday play date." This came to me in a flash of inspiration. I e-mailed a bunch of parents whose kids go to Zuzu's school (and a few of my friends whose kids she likes to play with) and invited them to meet up with us at Tower Grove Park on a Saturday morning to play in the fountain and on the playground. I emphasized in the e-mail that while we are celebrating Zuzu turning 5, this is a play date and NOT a party--no gifts! No organized games! No pressure! No stress! No prep!

She got to see her friends and play, and the only thing I had to do was throw a bunch of juice boxes in a little cooler and pick up 48 donut holes on our way there. Best parenting decision ever, and the kids had a blast! It was just about getting them all in the same place at the same time and giving them space to run around and scream.

And now that birthday is in the books--literally, the fifth birthday is the final entry in her baby book! My rainbow baby is growing up. And, as Zuzu would say, she makes me so happy that I have water in my eyes.


  1. Such an amazing girl!! I love watching her grow up.

  2. The playdate was truly inspired! Happy Birthday Zuzu!!

  3. Happy birthday, Zuzu! :) I love seeing photos of your two little girls; reminds me of two other long-ago little girls (me & my sister) and two other little girls in our lives who are a little bit older than they are (the Little Princesses I refer to in my blog). I love your idea for a birthday playdate as opposed to a birthday party -- brilliant!!

  4. Happy Birthday, Zuzu from your birthday buddy, Henry (who I also cannot believe is five and totally not a baby anymore). Sigh.