You are sleeping so peacefully. Awake, you are a whirlwind of chaos, bossiness, chatter, and bizarre questions. You Skype your grandparents or your father and you tell them, without pausing for breath, about how at your birthday party (six months ago) you had cake with strawberries and the candles were pink and you went to church but today isn’t Sunday and we go to church on Sundays so so so no church today and look here’s the monkey that Santa got you for Christmas because you were a good girl and the dog got a hedgehog because he was a good boy but but he’s a smelly hound and he’s not allowed on the couch, okay? Okay?
We look at you like this:
Don’t fault us our confusion. As my parents love to remind me, it wasn’t too long ago I was worried that you barely said a word. In your nonstop chatter, you make leaps from a cake at a party months ago to the current stank level of the dog in the blink of an eye. You talk and talk and talk until it seems like you could pass out from all that air you’re expelling. You show logical thinking that reminds us all that you’re growing up. Baiting you, you uncle says “Lillian, say ‘I’m a silly goose'” and you blithely reply “you’re a silly goose, Uncle Rory”.
You are expressing yourself. Once you were an infant, and no matter how unique or beautiful or rare you were even then, caring for you was just like caring for any other baby. Now you have things that you like and that you dislike. You have needs specific to you. In the former camp: reading, puzzles, watching cartoons, baking, riding your bike. In the latter: washing your hair, going to bed.
I am always thinking ahead to where these interests will take you. You recently went to your first ballet class. Maybe dance will capture your heart: maybe you will ask me to watch as you pirouette around the living room; maybe one day I will see your name in lights and your pas de deux will be the subject of rave reviews. Maybe all this babbling and exercising your right to be heard will lead you to a singing career. Maybe the control you exert over the dog (and, if I’m honest, over me) is in preparation for a future in politics. Maybe you’ll be academic: maybe one day the secrets we hide in history will fascinate you, and you will investigate the atrocities committed by your nation and by my own. Maybe one day you will sheepishly ask me to proof-read a history book that you’re working on, just because you want to.
But I know that my dreams for you might not align with the dreams you have for yourself. If history to you is nothing but the study of dead people, that is fine. If you would rather debate celebrity fashion choices than the importance of historical movements, I will love you all the same. If you prefer keg parties to political parties, so be it. If you can never hold a note, I will warble along off-key beside you.
These things are years away; decades, even. Still, while your days are filled with reading books and mindless chatter, I look at you and I see you writing books and giving politically charged speeches. I see college. I see my beautiful bright spark of a child all grown up. Sometimes, I get so lost in these visions that I forget that, for now, you are a three-year-old, deeply sleeping beneath a Disney blanket.
Sleep well, little girl.
I’ll dream for the both of us.