My daughter is tall, the tallest 4-year-old we’ve ever seen, with these long skinny, mosquito-bitten, bruised legs and constantly flexing, pointed toes. She is coltish, angular, so sudden in her movements that we often get jabbed in the softest part of the belly, or head-bunted when we bend down to give her a kiss. She crawls onto my lap, forcing me to make space, put my coffee aside, and I try to gather up all the limbs, but they can’t be contained. Really, if I can put my cheek on the crown of her head and brush my lips against her hairline, we are good – it counts as snuggling.
Her bangs are growing out. If I don’t manage to get them pulled back from her face that day, she is nearly impossible to find behind the shaggy strands that droop to her chin. But her hair is gorgeous: it goes most of the way down her back in golden brown waves, and when she runs outside, it makes these amazing swoops around her heart-shaped elfin face, and I love to capture it in pictures, frozen in motion. When she laughs, one dimple shows up in her right cheek. Her eyes are a soft and deep brown, and they most commonly express exuberance, stubborn sullenness, or dreaminess. She has an awkward, wallflower-ish beauty.
You never know exactly how things are going to go with Fiona.
Her emotions run deep; she is a sensitive, strong-willed girl. Even as a baby she was a rollercoaster, and I often suffer from emotional whiplash. She loves me…she loves me not. She will never love me again, because I won’t help her get out of her nightgown. (One of our ongoing conflicts is her not wanting to learn to do things by herself.) Her first year of preschool she didn’t speak a word in class, looking on expressionless as the other kids yelled out to the teacher what they did over the weekend. But at home she dials everything up to 11. This girl is LOUD. She’ll boss her grandpas around without a second thought. She’ll scream with delight while running with friends. She’ll order her baby brother to go put himself into the trash can. When she cries, she wails at the top of her lungs. And then, without warning, the sobbing will turn into hysterical laughter. She thinks that’s a pretty good trick. Usually we’re just so relieved that the crying has stopped that we don’t question it.
On the good days, she is full of affection, concern and sweetness. She will be your biggest cheerleader on your birthday, throwing herself into the festivities with zeal. When excited or fully engaged in something she loves, she maniacally scratches her head, twisting her hair up, and says, “I CAN’T belieeeeeve it!” or “This is a GREAT day!”
She is a blossoming artist and storyteller, and will spend hours drawing pictures for her own storybooks. She tells me what captions to write on each page. Her drawings are full of expression and drama. I love her devotion to her craft, and can imagine her getting involved in drama, art or storytelling.
Kids also seem drawn to her quirkiness, and I am glad, though she often retreats in shyness. When she knows someone well, she gives them her full affection. She doesn’t antagonize other kids – but she can be cold if not in a social mood, or the unforgiving victim, upset beyond words. She is innately aware of her own rights as a human being and will defend them to a fault. Not a bad quality, unless you are trying to convince her to potty train before she wants to. (Don’t worry; she eventually came around.)
She’s always been attached to me at the hip. Raging at me, hugging me, dragging on me…never really letting go. It’s intense. I’ve rarely had to chase her for affection. Sometimes I wonder what that would feel like. At times I long for space, but maybe this is better than the alternative. When I have space, I might miss this.
We always wanted a girl. Thank God we got this one.