Eight years ago today in the wee hours of the morning, I was waiting for a phone call telling me that niece #2 had arrived. I was keeping three-year-old Pointer and had put her to bed hours earlier, but Bird was being contrary and slow in making her appearance. She finally arrived in the pre-dawn hours, and I got to meet this gorgeous girl a few hours later. I've been in love with her ever since.
This year the Virginia-residing Bird celebrated turning eight in Kentucky at Nana's with an Arkansas Razorback-themed party. All the moving in her little life has left her with a geographic-identity crisis, obviously. But other than that little oddity, my girl is just about perfect. Let me tell you my five favorite things about Bird.
5. I'm not sure she'll approve of this or think it's a good option for a five-favorite list, but I love her voice. Mispronunciations and substituting wrong sounds is a part of normal language development for all kids, and I can name any number of children who do so memorably and charmingly, but something about the way that Bird talks has always been sweet and special and endearing to me. She used to pronounce sister as shishter, and it was possibly the most precious thing ever. We made her repeat it endlessly in a manipulative and exploitative way. She's long since mastered all of her sounds, but something about her voice and manner of speaking retains that sweetness. When everything about her is entirely too big and grown-up, her voice connects me to the baby and toddler and little kiddo that she used to be, and I need that. I am dreading the day when her voice grows up as much as the rest of her and loses that quality.
4. Bird is our little melting pot. People have always said that she looks like her moma or sometimes her Aunt Ellen, but her personality can be (and has been) attributed to a host of other people. She has her daddy's sense of humor, and I think he's the source of her adventurous creativity. But she's also got Michelle's sensitivity and tender feelings when she's hurt. The way that she reacts to people is a lot like Michelle too. There are moments when she's exactly like her Nana (especially if she's being roughly affectionate), and I can see definite bits of her uncles in her stubborn determination or her competitive streak. She's such a mixture of so many people that I love that I can't help but love that in her. Some people have accused Bird of being like her Aunt Ellen, and I'd be lying if I said that wasn't another layer in loving who she is.
3. My girl is a creative genius. She can make just about anything. From the time that she was three or four she was supplementing her dolls' wardrobes by creating outfits or accessories out of paper. She's since moved up from paper to other mediums. The last time that they moved she commandeered cardboard boxes for building projects, and one time recently when she was at Nana's, she started making weapons out of sticks. She's got a fully functioning bow and arrow and now a gun that she created out of sticks and a few other odds and ends. She recently decided that she wants to be an engineer when she grows up, but not a boring engineer like Uncle Josh. When she gets it into her head that she needs something that she doesn't have, she just builds it--no matter how unlikely it should be that she can. That determination to make anything she decides upon is a driving force in Bird's life. She's always been the sort of girl who could accomplish anything once she sets her mind to it from learning to whistle to playing every sport available to building a sixty-three inch paper airplane. The kid gets stuff done, and I dig it.
2. It's a close race at the moment, but any day now Bird is going to surpass me as the funniest person in our family. And it's a fairly big deal that I love her humor enough to not become ridiculously competitive or pouty about that prospect. If you know me at all, you've heard me brag before at her mad comedy skills. She had a impressively-developed sense of comedic timing at age two. I knew we had a prodigy on our hands when she changed song lyrics to make fun of her daddy when she was two or three (Will is famous for doing this). Although in the past couple of years Bird might have relied more heavily on potty humor than is strictly necessary, she is completely hilarious. She is a master of little kid goofy, but she also teases like a champ and holds her own in our family of comedians. I know my imaginary readers are probably tired of reading about how funny my family is, but seriously, Bird is one of the best, and it can't be said or appreciated enough.
Happy birthday to my complicated baby girl. Even though I saw you yesterday, I miss you already.