Today Chloe turns 7.
I’ve been trying to figure out exactly how I’d sum up her year, as I typically do in these posts and I think I have it nailed:
TL;DR – Comedy.
I’ve known Chloe for 7 years, which is essentially 100% of her life. At the beginning of her life, I was a summer camp director. Less than 1.5 months after she was born I moved up to camp for the summer. As a result, it took me a longer time than I would have liked to really develop a connection with her. I doubt she felt it the way I did but it wore on me enough that I ultimately left that job and went back into the startup world (which is still very time consuming but generally doesn’t involve me being away for 3 months in a row in a 24/7 job).
Anyhow, in the years since, I feel like we’ve remedied that connection. I feel like we know each other pretty well at this point. I frequently discuss, on this blog, how different the girls are which, given how close they are in age (just under 13 months), makes me very happy. I like that they are their own people and do their own things and have their own interests.
We recently added 2 new members to our family: Willie and Charlie. They are kittens. They round out our farm at 2 parents, 2 kids, 1 dog, and 2 cats. One of the funny things that I’ve always said about Chloe and Julianna, but now have living proof, is how the differences between cats and dogs are similar to the differences between Chloe and Julianna.
Julianna loves unconditionally. Last night she couldn’t find the book she was reading. I had a sneaky suspicion I knew where it was (finding their things is my super power), and was able to locate the book. When I brought it to her, she lit up and gave me a giant hug with a quote like, “YES! Daddy, you’re the best! Thanks!”
Chloe, well, she’s the cat. If the situation had been reversed, when I brought her the book, she would have either been reading something else and ignored me, or would have greeted me with a “what took so long?” With Chloe, you must work for it. Her love and affection is earned but once you get it, she won’t leave you alone. I considered it a challenge. She loves playing with friends but is also incredibly happy to play by herself. She regularly plays with Lego sets, some that she built a year ago and are still intact, for hours by herself. At bedtime, she’ll occasionally dismiss me from the room so she can get back to the book she was reading. Julianna would welcome my company for the entire night.
Some of my favorite times with her are when we are just sitting near each other, quietly doing our own things. For instance, there are times when she’ll be playing with Legos and I’ll ask if she minds if I sit in the room near her. I offer to play if she wants but many times, she just seems happy to have to have me nearby. Sometimes in the car, when its just the two of us, we’ll listen to music without any conversation and we’re both happy about that.
And she’s so funny. Her sense of humor has really developed in the last year, particularly as it relates to her ability to understand, and occasionally even express, sarcasm. Her wit is sharp.
I hope the people who share a house with me don’t take this the wrong way but I think of everyone here, she might get my sense of humor the most. She knows exactly when I’m joking and is a willing participant in my nonsense. She’s my comedic partner in crime.
Julianna has a good sense of humor too but its different. Her comedy doesn’t come quite as naturally, not for lack of trying, but at the ripe of 8, she’s already telling jokes that end with “#dadjoke” and uses air quotes like she’s Matt Foley, motivational speaker.
With Chloe, its effortless and her laugh, the real one, is intoxicating.
Julianna likes to dance, sing, and perform for people. Chloe is mostly happy to keep it to herself. She enjoys her quiet. These are differences I love about them. It allows them to have their own ways without conflict or competition (most of the time).
Last weekend, we took the girls to a local community theater musical with middle school-aged kids. There was no food allowed in the auditorium. This was our first trip to a “big play” as a family. At intermission, the girls and I went out and got a snack. Julianna chose Cheetos. Chloe chose Skittles. When Julianna finished devouring hers, she went back in to sit with my wife. Chloe and I sat out in the lobby for 5 more minutes, just people watching. She had about half the bag of Skittles left when we went back to our seats so I put the bag in my jacket pocket for later.
During the car ride home, after the show, Julianna brought up a story about the time between when she got back to our seats and when Chloe and I got there. The people sitting in front of us (a mom and a few sons), had a discussion about tasking the son with finding, you guessed it, Skittles, but the concession people were all out. He came back empty handed. Apparently, before he went on his failed mission, the mom had told him that even though there was no food allowed in the auditorium, he should just sneak it in. This was cause for alarm with Julianna (a consummate rule follower). If only she knew…
Shortly after the second act started, I reached into my pocket and quietly pulled a few Skittles out. I reached over the armrest and put one in Chloe’s hand. She didn’t look at me. She hadn’t asked. She just closed her fingers around it and then put it in her mouth. No words exchanged. For the rest of the second act, I smuggled Skittles to her.
While Julianna was telling her story, I made eye contact with Chloe in the rear-view mirror. She just barely winked at me. She just barely smiled. We both knew what we had gotten away with, together.
We have not spoken about it since.
Occasionally, the girls will write notes to my wife and I while they are in bed. I usually see them when I go to check on them after they are asleep or the following morning. Recently, Chloe wrote me a note:
“Dad – I love you and I want to say goodnight. (and good ridance)” [sic]
I basically pissed my pants laughing when I saw this, repeatedly throughout the night. The next morning, I asked what “good riddance” meant. She said she didn’t know but had heard it before. I told her that it basically meant, “I don’t want to see you ever again.” Rather than being mortified about what she had said to me, she started laughing. It took her no time to understand how funny it was, particularly after saying “I love you and goodnight.”
I drove her to school that morning (Julianna was sick so wasn’t with us). When she walked off from my car, I waited for her to get a far enough distance away so that people could hear me yell:
“Hey Chloe, I love you and good riddance!”
She turned around, already with a giant smile on her face, understanding exactly what I meant.
Happy Birthday Chloe.