Ava at Eight

I was standing in the kitchen late last night, contemplating which of the pre-party tasks I could take on with so little time left in the day. I decided to work on number cookies, pulling the “8” from the tin of cookie cutters. It took me a split second to realize “9” was the only number I’ve yet to use in this set, and then “number” cookies will become hearts, or circles, or some other shape that indicates Ava is growing up far too quickly.

The thing about making number cookies is that it’s a task that provides plenty of opportunity for contemplation and reflection. Nostalgia drives the process, after all.

A few weeks ago, my mom noted that Ava wasn’t making as frequent appearances on the blog. And, it’s true—as she gets older, it’s harder to write about her in this way. She seems less a baby, less a kid, and more a person. A person who reads this blog herself, and a person who should probably have more to say about her online persona than her mother. And so, I hold back a bit more than I do with her siblings. I hope, though, once a year, she’ll forgive a few musings about who she’s becoming, and how her insistance on aging changes her mother, too.

An old acquaintance of mine recently shared a story about taking her second-born in for five-year immunizations. She reported the child didn’t shed a single tear, though quickly added she couldn’t take much credit: Her firstborn had to be held down by four nurses during the same appointment a couple of years earlier. That addendum made me laugh out loud, because in our house, it was Ava who has made her siblings seem relatively easy by comparison. Perhaps there’s something to birth order, or perhaps it’s personality. Maybe it’s because these first children—daughters, especially—know they have the responsibility of training new parents. Ava’s certainly held our feet to the fire for the last few years.

She questions our motives, executing a cutting cross-examination, and she will exploit any sign of weakness. She’s smart and shrewd and sharp-tongued. She started saying, “Because is not a reason” nearly as soon as she could talk. When she dissolves into a puddle on the floor, awash with tears, I remind her she’s eight now, and eight-year-olds most assuredly do not have tantrums. When she calms, she reminds me that eight really isn’t all that old.

She’s nearly always right.

I worry incessantly about How She Will Turn Out. I want her to be self-possessed but gracious. Assertive but polite. Generous. Inclusive, responsible, poised. Driven. On any given day, I can give you numerous examples of how I failed in helping her become this person. Bryan believes if we just love her, she’ll be all of those things and more.

He is nearly always right.

We’ve spent a fair amount of time talking about the girls while they’re away this weekend. At one point, Bryan noted how funny it is now to think that having only a baby to care for is so easy. That was certainly not how we were feeling eight years ago when we brought our first little one home. As such, I know there will be a time—probably one that involves cars, or dates, or college applications—where we say, “and we thought it was tough back then.”

To date, though, Ava at this age is my favorite challenge. She’s funny and helpful. She makes me work to be a better mom, and like her father, she forgives so effortlessly along the way. For that alone, I am truly grateful.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Gramma Great on March 22, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Oh my! This is perfect!

  2. That was just beautiful. Left a tear in the eye.

  3. Posted by Bryan on March 26, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    This is really beautiful, Rebecca. Love u!

  4. […] For the first time, my number cookies weren’t numbers. […]

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