Thursday, January 1, 2009

Such a Good Girl

It's been so long since I updated this blog with actual content about Harper's life and personality. Guilt aside, I begin this post with so much gratitude for my good girl. I know that I'll never be able to remember all of the sweet moments of Harper's (or Jack's) life and that sometimes pains me, but in the constant push ahead sometimes a moment of notetaking provides a poultice to the ache. We all know Harper is smart, sensitive, imaginative, kind, loving... but the following stories illustrate those qualities. They're typical and revealing, normal to Harper and yet indicative of her uniqueness.

Christmas night, our good friends Kyle and Laura were over and Harper read the first page of The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming, by Lemony Snicket for them. Here's the entire text for your amazement.
This story ends in someone's mouth, but it begins in a tiny village more or less covered in snow. The snow had fallen during the long night, during which children had pressed their faces to the windows looking for a glimpse of a man who they suspected of bringing them wonderful gifts, but instead they heard a terrible noise from a certain cottage in the neighboring arrondissement, a word which here means "place where something was being born." The cottage was already regarded with some suspicion, as it was the only place not decorated with flashing colored lights at this time of year.

I admittedly helped her with the word 'arrondissement', but that was the only one I recall her struggling with. Although I hear her read often, this impressed even me because the syntax of this book is so adult, leaving less contextual clue for Harper's whole-language approach to decoding. She's a ridiculous reader.

Speaking of reading, Harper has begun what we call "reading in her mind", or silently reading. The first time we saw it was on Black Friday while standing in line and E quizzed her to see if she was actually reading/understanding. She was.

The girl still reads in the mornings when she wakes too early and the sound of pages turning has replaced the calls out for Dad or Mom. It's such a nice way to wake up, hearing my girl turning pages.

Her facility with language includes lots of idioms and grown up expressions these days. It seems she likes to include them or finds them fun. Phrases she tosses include "That's unfortunate," the yiddish "Oy vey, mein tatala," "It's no use", "Good as new!", "I feel bummed out.", etc.

Harper continues to be a very specific, detail-oriented girl. When we play and pretend with her, she often directs how or what we should say in response to her questions. "Pretend you're sleeping and you don't want me to wake you." It's like she's giving us our motivation before we go on stage to improv. She sets up scenes and she has a favorite opener/cue to let us know we're beginning to pretend together. "Um, hi, I'm looking for the ballet school. Did I come to the right place?" The answer is always supposed to be "Yes" and then you carry on with what follows. Here are a couple pretend photos from recent playing. Note her new side kick in pretendworld: Jack Jack!

Some of her favorite pretend scenarios include: fairy princess school, ballet, regular school, animal doctor, Mama/baby, ice skating with hands behind her waist in slippers on the tile, switching roles/relations (i.e. "You be Dada, I'll be Jack, Daddy will be Harper, and Jackie can be you... okay?). Here she is at Jovial's birthday party, playing teacher to the group of kids at pretend school. She also played "family" and she was the mom, Miles the dad, the rest were their kids.

She also started learning to use the computer and has gotten the hang of the mouse. She's spent a few hours so far playing on a preschool game site, She really likes the stuff there. Though it's a bit simple in terms of content, the motor skills and ease with the computer is beneficial.

She has a great vocabulary but still speaks in a 3 year old's voice, which makes the words sound extra cute. E likes to ask her why we use utensils at meal times (his gentle way of reminding her to use a fork) and she picks up her fork and answers, "Because we're civilized." She is very polite, almost to a fault! She begins many sentences with "Excuse me", even when she's not interrupting a conversation or getting someone's attention. After her ballet recital the other night, I overheard her telling a peer, "Excuse me, you look really pretty in that crown." Harper likes rules and likes things to be right.

Speaking of ballet recital, Harper loved dancing in the show! She beamed and I was amazed that she was so enthusiastic in her performance when her cohort was only 3 girls and the crowd was quite large! She loved the entire thing. She's doing great with ballet, but she has one noticable handicap in her left handedness. Her instinct is always to begin with the left foot, turn to the left, point her left toe when the routine always does right first. This aside, she still stole the show.

During the holiday season, she celebrated Hanukkah and Christmas and really enjoyed both. At storytime at the library, the librarian read one Hanukkah book alongside many Christmas books. When she began, Harper jumped up from her seat, walked up to the front to be sure the librarian would hear her, and said, "Hey! I'm Jewish!" enthusiastically. It charmed everyone because of her sweet pride. I could tell she really appreciated the affirmation of the Hanukkah book at the library-- the validation of both sides of her when the world in December is all Christmas, Christmas, Christmas. Harper helped us light the menorah each night and sang the prayers. After the first night of celebrating over at Grandma's, Harper came home all high on being Jewish. As we got her ready for bed that night, Harper told me, "Mama, I love you anyway you're not Jewish." Such a thoughtful, hilarious kid! I loved the kid-syntax of replacing 'anyway' for 'even though'-- perfect example of how she is still a little kid but she often has the maturity and thinking of a much older person.

Harper also celebrated Christmas with my family. She enjoyed decorating the tree, learning carols, and writing a note to Santa. Her favorite Christmas carol was "Rudolph" and she sang that song over and over. It was cute to listen closely to what she was singing. Anytime she'd mess up a word, she'd pause to think, and then start it again at the very top. It killed me! She desires so much to do everything just right! Even singing a little song when (she thinks) no one is listening! She believes in Santa and wanted a glimpse so we went out to the mall to see him. Santa actually wasn't busy at the moment and stepped over to the side to talk to her. I thought she'd shout out her wish list or something, but instead she told Santa, "I've been good but sometimes Jackie is mean to me!" I was shocked that she was ratting her little bro out to Mr. Santa himself! But then she qualified a bit: "You can still bring him a toy, though." Harper "mailed" a letter to Santa, and also left this one for him on Christmas Eve.

The cousins got her her much coveted Baby Alive doll. Here she is opening the gift she'd longed for-- check that smile!

A few days later, she spent the night with the cousins and had a great time sleeping with Caroline and Savannah, staying up late watching movies and playing. When I arrived to pick her up, she had two french braids sprayed pink. She's the center of attention when she's at their house and she adores them!

I continue to like her school: I get little notes home letting me know the teachers are working on special projects with Harper and give her some extra challenges. Harper's the only one to have read books aloud to her preschool class, and she's the only kid allowed to pull the teacher's books off the shelf and read them alone if she wants.

Our girl continues to be sensitive, empathetic, and astute. This morning is a perfect example. I walked in her room and I suppose I didn't greet her as enthusiastically today because I woke with a sore throat. Harper climbed out of her covers and asked, "Mama, did you sleep okay last night?"
I answered, "Yeah, alright. Did you?"
"Uh, huh. I was just asking because you seem like you don't feel good."
"Actually, I don't feel well-- you're right, Harper."
How she picks up on the subtle stuff like this amazes me. She is very aware of others' feelings. Even when she is corraling Jack away from her breakable or fragile belongings, she comforts him with, "I still love you, little buddy!" Along with this emotionality comes some extra drama sometimes. Her go-to when she's feeling devastated is, "Now I'll never ____!" She emphasizes her feeling of futility, anger, or sadness by imagining the current disappointment as never-ending. Her lollipop stick breaks and the candy falls to the dirty ground? In a sensitive moment, Harper would probably stick out her bottom lip and say, "Now I'll never get to eat a lollipop!"

She is kind and loving, always looking out for Jackie. Their relationship is really developing lately. She often tries to hold his hand in the backseat of the car and sometimes he'll oblige. The other day on the way home from visiting family out of town, Jack fell asleep in the car. Harper whispered up to the front, "Mama, I just rubbed a little of my love onto Jackie". She had gently touched his hand because she couldn't resist his charming sleepiness. Another day, Harper had woken from her nap before Jackie and she came to join me in the "sewing room". She got her Hello Kitty coloring book out and colored alongside me while I finished up the last few stitches on a project. We chatted away together and after a brief pause, she asked me, "Can you feel my love, Mama?" I replied, "Yes, I can tell you just like to be near me, huh?" She answered, "Yeah." and I told her that I like to be near her too.

Here she is dressed to attend a princess-themed party. Pink, pink, pink!

and here she is at another friend, Syndie's birthday party, playing dress up.

Since she's been in school, Harper's really begun identifying with the common little girl stuff. She quickly rattles off that she likes purple and pink, Hello Kitty, My Little Pony, and Care Bears. She's figuring out the dynamics of her peer group and navigating childhood friendships.

I'm very proud of this special girl we are raising. Harper is a delight. Even in tough moments, her learning and her self is right there on the surface of her crying or mad face-- and she's a wonder even then.


Grandma said...

she is everything you say, and more, and for all that i thank you both.

Danielle said...

as always, aunt d is in tears after reading about this special girl. i miss you guys!!!!!!!!!

Erica said...

I found myself a little teary-eyed on this one, too. Harper is such a special blessing! Thanks for posting!

mary gendron said...

can you feel my love...sooo precious...what a precious girl!

Mary Katie said...

I'm teary-eyed and I'm not even family!! I think it's a combination of the sweetness of Harper and the gifted writer, Ru.

callie Roadcap-Uleners said...

goodness sakes! isn't being a mom the best and most?? i've been keeping a book of all these precious moments written down since i was prego with each boy - but this reminds me to be better about recording. you have such a gifted way of holding other people accountable by being such a wonderful example! part of the reason harper is so amazing is because you're her mom (oh, and i guess ethan has some to do with it too, huh?!)

love and huggins, c.

Rachel said...

What a beautifully written tribute to a special little girl.