Friday, December 13, 2013

Cars and Couches

WARNING: What follows is sentimental. If you can't deal with that - do not read.

Her first word was 'no''.

When she was about four months old I was holding her, standing and leaning against the kitchen counter. She was pulling my hair or trying to chew my necklace, I can't remember which. I told her no. She looked at me, her big green eyes bundled together with her sweet baby chubby cheeks and she smacked me. Across the cheek. She smacked me.

My Elizabeth.

Soon after she was born Farmer Boy thought we should change her name.
She was officially Elizabeth Grace.
He thought she should become Elizabeth Grace Humility.

You've heard it before. The question that floats unanswered in casual conversation.
"How can siblings be so different?"

Kelli slept through the night at six weeks old. Early on she demonstrated to Farmer Boy and I that she lived to please. We thought we were perfect parents. We had this whole thing figured out.

Elizabeth didn't sleep through the night until after she was 12 months old. She'd cry every night. I'd stagger to her crib, lift her out and brush her chubby cheeks with my drowsy kiss. I'd stumble down the stairs. I didn't want Farmer Boy or Kelli to wake up. Why wouldn't this child sleep?

Elizabeth and I would plop down on our blue living room couch. Her tears were real. Her face red. Her arms and legs kicking. She'd feed for about 10 seconds, become completely still and then fall back asleep. I'd stare at her. Aghast.
"You woke me up for that?"

After several nights of this I finally caught on.

She wasn't hungry.

On those rare nights when I could relax with her, tell myself that it was only sleep I was missing out on, Lizzy and I would sit on that blue couch in the quiet of the early morning.

Just Lizzy and I.

Kelli was tucked in. Farmer Boy was dreaming about pigs and crops. Lizzy and I sat together. We cuddled. She had me. She didn't have to share. There we were. Just Lizzy and I sitting on a blue couch while the rest of our little world slept.

Lizzy is strong willed. She is determined and stubborn. She always has a plan. She is beautiful and her hair is like magic, almost too good to be true. Her heart is so big and tender that I think instinctively she knows that something that big must be protected so she's careful.  "Are you worth the risk?" she asks. "Am I safe with you?"

Lizzy is a fighter. She will do things her way. After all she does have a plan. Advice may or may not be taken. She will get to where she is going - her way. An offered map may provide her with a more efficient route, but is it really the best way? She'll find out.

This morning I watched my fiery one get into her car and drive to school. All by herself. Without me.

Lizzy secured her student permit last week. She can now legally drive to and from school by herself even though she is not yet 16. Crazy? I think so. We don't do this kind of thing in Canada.

I'm not sure what it is about watching my babies get into a car and drive away without me. It's significant and scary. It's heart wrenching and exciting. It makes me teary and wistful.

I stood in the driveway this morning,waving frantically, praying, holding nothing but fleeting images of my baby and I on that couch.

I asked her to call me when she got to school.

I wanted a quick conversation about roads, parking, and how awesome driving alone was.

I got - "I made it. Gotta go. Bye."

I looked down at my phone. What? Wait! Tell me more. How are you? What the....? Lizzy!

She was gone. On her way into school. Her plan for that part of the day perfectly executed.

Thanks Lizzy. Thanks for all those quiet mornings on the couch. Just you and me. You can wake me up anytime. We can sit on the couch together while everyone else sleeps. Just you and me.

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