Phase 2

Today Julianna turned 6.

I’m not positive but I think I need to start thinking about her as a big girl now.  This morning when she woke up, my wife and I went in to give her obnoxious birthday attention that feels “this” close to warranting eye-rolls.  I sort of picked her up and held her like a newborn, explaining that it was the way I held her 6 years ago.  She is of course, much larger than that first day.  I think that she gets that even though she isn’t a baby anymore, she’ll still always be my baby.

This year, like the previous ones, has been filled with great moments and transitions.  It seems like both yesterday and forever ago that I was writing about Julianna’s transition to kindergarten.  Feeling completely helpless as the guidance counselor brought her into school for the first time, while she cried to please not leave her brought back a lot of bad memories of my own at that same time of life.  The good news is that she recovered a lot, and I mean a lot, quicker than I did.  My mother would tell you it took me between months and the entire year before I went into school without a fight.  Julianna was fully recovered and ready for action on day 2.  DAY FRIGGIN 2.  I didn’t have a day of homesickness or “transition trouble” after kindgerten so I’m hopeful she will have a similar future.

Kindergarten epilogue:  I still drive her to school every day.  She buckles her own seat belt when we get in the car.  We still wait in the line.  When its our turn to drop off, it goes like you hear in the movies:  she literally has no time to say goodbye.  Inevitably she sees a friend walking in from one of the busses and she can’t wait to go catch up.  Occasionally I’ll get a wave but for the most part, she’s very busy doing other things…like socializing with kids I don’t know.  Once she gets out, its usually seconds before I need to move so I only get a quick glimpse of her “social skills” but its oddly fascinating.  That first time you see a 4th grade girl walk up to your kindergarten daughter on her way into school and you read her lips as she says, “Hey Noa, how was your weekend?” its sort of awesome and sort of heart-breaking…

It feels like she’s starting to not “need” me quite as much.  I know that’s not really true of course but seeing her interact with friends and not need me there to facilitate is something that I think you strive for as a parent.  I love that she has made friends, without my help.  I love that she can handle herself without me.  Those things feel very reassuring.  They are also mild shots to my ego.  I’m sure almost all parents go through the same sort of withdrawal and that its a normal thing but I also think that no matter how often someone tells you to “enjoy every moment because they aren’t going to be babies forever” you don’t really grasp it…

…until your cell phone rings one afternoon and its your wife’s # and when you answer, a lispy little girl voice excitedly says, “Daddy, my tooth was really loose at recess so I pulled it out.”

Yeah, Julianna also lost her first tooth.

That tooth loss I suppose is symbolic of this new transition…out with the baby stuff…in with the whatever is next stuff…

…like how to read.  So much for my wife and I spelling out things we don’t want the girls to understand.  Tonight at bedtime, we let the girls have a rare, school-night sleepover.  They love having sleepovers with each other and we often let them do it on the weekends but because today is Julianna’s birthday, we are having a special treat.  Normally, bedtime is one of my wife or I reading a book to each kid.  Tonight, Julianna insisted that she read the book and while its certainly a slower process, for the most part, she can actually do it.

Recently, while she was reading a book to me, she had apparently recently learned what a question mark was and went into a 5 minute long lecture on how they worked and how she was supposed to make her voice go “up like this”.  There are always moments when we can see “education” but this was one of the first display of a specific proper educational moment and another reminder that she’s growing up.

And then there’s Chloe.  Their relationship has just gotten stronger.  They are even better friends than they were last year at this time.  Many mornings, one of them wakes the other one up and we hear them playing with dolls or reading books to each other.  Its another thing where we’ve been told, “they won’t be this close forever.”  No complaints.  They are this close and continue to get closer.

They share with each other (most of the time), think about each other (most of the time), are learning how to compromise (some of the time), help each other and clearly love each other.  It is just super cool to watch them be together.

I feel like I’m rambling a bit and that’s because I typically don’t like to overthink these posts but rather just sort of type what I’m thinking.  This year has felt like year 1 of phase 2 and last year I felt like I had finally gotten comfortable with what parenting was all about…now I suppose we continue to learn and enjoy, again.

I’m sure there will be answers.

I’m sure there will be questions.

I’m sure it will be another great year where my first baby continues to give me wonderful things to be proud of.

Happy Birthday Julianna.