September 12, 2020

Ode to 14

I told Big Daddy I would be done having babies by my 30th birthday. We’d started so young that 30 seemed a reasonable cut off, but life happens as life does and Littlebit was born just about two weeks after I turned 30.

Littlebit came into the world insistent. Not angry or bratty, just insistent. She’s been that way from the start. There was a time when one of Big Daddy’s uncles, who was a middle child himself, asked us to not overlook her or forget her. We promised we wouldn’t and, honestly, you can’t really overlook or forget an insistent child.

Insistent children never let you forget that you have something they need you to do. Insistent children don’t take a “later” as a response. Insistent children will body slam you go make sure they get the hug and affection they need.

For a lot of years, I called Littlebit my sunshine girl. My perpetually happy child. I don’t call her that anymore. It’s not because she’s a teenager now and, well, they tend NOT to be the most sunshine-y people. I understood, as I worked through my own issues, that lauding Littlebit for her perpetual happiness and obedience was wrong. A few weeks after Big Daddy left, I sat down and, tearfully, told Littlebit that I wasn’t going to call her my sunshine girl anymore. That putting that expectation on her was wrong. That was free to be whatever she felt; happy, sad, angry, indifferent. It was all okay.

Littlebit has begun to let that veil drop with me. For the first time in her life, she declines doing the things she’s asked to do. She always does them because we have two house rules (1: Don’t be a dick 2: Help when you’re asked) and I pretty much expect people to follow them. For a long time, she was like Ella Enchanted, obediently doing what she was told, albeit a little slow because she didn’t want to. Now she stomps. Slams a door. Throws things around a little bit. Yeah, maybe it’s disrespectful, but I don’t care. It means that Littlebit is slowly, but hopefully surely, breaking out of her sunshine mold and developing into who she is and who she is meant to be. Littlebit is slowly, but hopefully surely, dropping the idea that she must be absolutely perfectly happy at all times to keep the family around her happy.

I have had the great pleasure to tell Littlebit that it will never be her job to make me happy. I am glad we had that conversation. I am glad my child expressed that she thought that was her “job” and that she was worried about it and I got to tell her that it was my job to make myself happy just as it is her job to make herself happy. Her father and I and her sisters are responsible for our own happiness.

But, knowing Littlebit helps.

Littlebit loves music. She loves anime and manga. She does NOT like happy music, mostly. She sings almost constantly. She’s a very good writer and speller. She’s good at math, really, even if she isn’t very confident. She’s a good friend. She’s thoughtful and curious. Very few of us are. She taught herself Japanese by labeling the entire house. She has a heart for serving others that I think will serve her well as she grows older and figures out who and what she is going to be.

For a lot of years, I said that Littlebit was the Quinn Morgendorfer to Baby Bee’s Daria. Littlebit just has that big heart that I know will find her hurt more times than is her due. She’s going to love so many people and some of them just won’t be worthy of her. Heartbreak is a terrible thing, but it’s also transformative and maybe, in this way, Littlebit will have the change to be many more people than she would be otherwise.

Fourteen years ago, I got to fall in love again. Her brightness overshines the sadness that marks this time of year, for me. Even when she’s not being a sunshine girl, she still shines.

Happy birthday, my best middle girl.

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