Sunday, November 15, 2009

I Remember Something ...

As your thirteenth birthday approaches I am reminded of all your wacky little quirks my darling girl J (most are endearing) that I see slipping away with the advent of teenagehood.

A story retold many times: When you were about a year and half I was teaching you to say your name (four syllables - a beautiful Italian name but quite a mouthful for a little tiny gal!). I would point to you and say your name, then I would point to myself and say "Mama". I repeated this several times: "Juliana" then "Mama", "Juliana" then "Mama". (Important Ed. Note: J sometimes referred to breasts as "milk" - hmm don't ask!)

"Okay you try sweetie," I said encouragingly. " I pointed to her."Juliana!" she chirped. Excellent, good girl! I pointed to myself (I placed a hand on my chest) waiting eagerly for her response. "Two milks!" she blurted. Mortification, joy, laughter - all these things passed through me.

Every mother thinks her child exceptionally smart. I know I did. When you were two your grandmother Sue took care of you at her house in Don Mills which was close to where Mama worked at the time. Each night during dinner I would ask you what you did that day - did you have good time? Yes. Was it fun today? Yes, you would say. Yes. Yes, to every question. "What a smart kid," I said to R, "She understands everything!" Every night the same positive response.

Then I got suspicious, every answer was yes, every response was agreeable. So I started asking J different questions: did you go to the moon today with Bachan (Japanese for grandmother)? Yes. Was it fun on the moon? Yes. Did you eat bananas on the moon? Yeees. So much for that Mensa membership.

You were mischievous, you were naughty too. At three years old we had an episode which proved as much. Someone stole some candy from the candy tin under the island in the kitchen and then fibbed about it. When daddy noticed it missing, he asked you and you cried and swore that you had not done it. Later you crept up to me. "Don't tell Daddy, but it was me who took the candy!" you cried piteously. For some reason, she's always been a little more afraid of her sweet tempered dad's displeasure, maybe because he is less susceptible to tears and drama than her mother.

"Promise you won't tell!" she begged. I said, "I won't, but I really think you should tell him." Later that day she approached her dad and confessed amongst many tears of contrition and kisses.

At around that time, you also had a way of saying "C'mon babeeee!" which sounded alot like Elvis.

All kids perform for their parents. You were no exception. We'd say, "J, do a happy face, J do a sad face, an angry face ..." You obliged accordingly. The best was the "thinking face". You became pensive, tapped a little finger against the side of your face and said slowly, "I remember something ..."

But do you remember when you were four or five and were completely captivated by the animated movie Pocahontas. I was teasing you the other day about this. We had a song book with all the songs from the film. Every night you asked me to sing each song, every night, before you fell asleep. EVERY SONG.

Sometimes, your dad would sing along with us and then he and I would inevitably get misty when we got to "The Colours of the Wind". Some nights I was tired and resentful. Some nights you were a tad unruly. But we sang the whole songbook together. For months.

Another bedtime ritual from a few years later: when it was time to brush your teeth, you would casually slip into my bedroom when I was in there, slip on my black three inch heels and parade up and down the hallway brushing your teeth and tottering around as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Not a word spoken, you just slipped on the heels and wiggled about until I burst out laughing. It was so uncharacteristic of my un-girly girl!

What about the time you ran through the house when we had a few playmates of yours over to cool off with the garden hose on the front lawn. Your dad had set up a little blue and yellow tent which resembled a tiny house that you three ran in and out of, getting wet from the sprinkler, slipping on the grass, screeching. Everyone got wet and then they were changing into dry clothes in the living room. You ran through the house naked yelling, "Don't look at my privacy! Don't look at my privacy!" clutching only a towel and your, ahem, modesty.

Like me, you love holidays and were excited about holiday preparations. Together we would bake cookies for Valentines Day, Easter, Halloween, Christmas: adorned with hearts and bunnies, pumpkins and ornaments. We trimmed the tree together. You helped Mama prepare special Xmas baskets with home baked goods for friends and family. Like your nonna, you had a special flair for arranging and organizing things in a pretty way. You set the table with special decorations and a great deal of love when we had guests.

Those days are gone I'm afraid. Now when we trim the tree you are more likely to be texting friends on the couch or be on the computer. Alas, you have little interest in baking cookies with pumpkins on them or cute Easter bunnies. The baskets are only mildly interesting to you now.

But you still have the sweet quirkiness of a child and a great joyful laugh. You still love to dance your goofy dances and you are a vicious mimic of adult behavior which amuses you (and us). But now the goofiness is coupled with big sighs of irritation, eye rolling and alarming proclamations about how one day you just might like to have a small tattoo - utterances that petrify your poor old mother. You play ice hockey, you play guitar, you text and e-mail and are far more tech savvy than I am.

One thing still remains from that time that seems so long ago now. Once, when you were three you mispronounced the endearment "lovey" when you addressed us and the name stuck. You are still my "lubby" even today.

You are 13 today. What a great age you are! I wouldn't turn back the hands of time despite my nostalgia because each day you delight me more and more tesoro.


Anonymous said...

You made me cry for a second time!! Michelle, I enjoy "visiting" with you. You raised a beautiful child and continue to do so. Please wish Juliana a "Happy 13th" from all of us. She is the first of the Hayashi grandkids and what a role model for all of her cousins!

A Lit Chick said...

S, I cried sooo many times during the writing of this ... it brought back so many happy memories. As much as they drive you crazy, our babies bring so much indescribable joy into our lives. :)

I will pass on your good wishes! Thank you for sharing with me. It really means a lot to me.