Bean turned six! I can't believe it. Not because I don't know where the time went or because it's going too fast. I can't believe it because she acts like a teenager most days. She could be sixteen. She's tall and willowy with long brown hair that sweeps across her face. Her hair is thick, shiny and brown, like a Pantene commercial except that she hates brushing it. Or rather, she hates me brushing it. She doesn't like her hair pulled back and we negotiate her hairstyles daily. I always try to get her hair pulled back from her face so that she can go to school. Within five minutes of her returning from school, her hair ties are pulled out, her pants are pulled off and her socks are thrown about haphazardly in the hallway. Every.single.day.
Bean is six. She can snap her fingers now which might be her crowning achievement thus far. I'm certain that she places this skill above reading and swimming. She knows almost all the words to Les Miserables and is starting to memorize the words to Alexander Hamilton. She prefers dresses to pants, sparkles to ruffles, big bows to tutus. She firmly believes the more accessories, the better. She is a huge fan of the Fancy Nancy book series, but also loves Star Wars and wants to be Rey for Halloween. She loves exploring outside and is still very much a "nature hoarder." Whenever we hike, she is the designated leader with a newly found walking stick each time. She finds the trail markers and gives directions, until she tires out and then demands to get carried on dad's shoulders. She is an avid gardner and collector of worms. When she gardens, she dons pink princess gloves and plants flowers and beets alongside her dad whom she adores. Their relationship is a wonder to behold.
Bean is six. I say it with certainty. I'm trying so hard to teach her well. To teach her kindness, grace and compassion. Some days, I think I'm failing miserably. I struggle with what she's eating or not eating, doing homework, or playing referee between the two girls and it's exhausting, but there are these moments of clarity that hit me and I think I must be doing something right. Bean started swim lessons a few weeks ago. It's a small group lesson, and she is by far the weakest swimmer. She's not confident in the water and is extremely uncoordinated. Her arms flail about not in a typical front- crawl-windmill-style but more in the "I'm going to get eaten by a shark while doing the Walk Like An Egyptian arm movements." It's not pretty. Watching the other swimmers in her class effortlessly float and kick gave me palpitations. She is a perfectionist and when she's doesn't get something immediately, it infuriates her. I was waiting for her wrath after class when she said "I'm the worst swimmer in my class." My heart sank. I geared up for my motivational, "don't give up" speech when she continued "But I'm going to try my hardest and each week I'll get a little bit better because I'm trying and that's what counts!" I think I heard angels singing at that moment.
Bean is six and still prone to fits of jealousy with HT. More than once she dramatically laments shouting "Nobody asked me if I wanted a sister!" I always respond that HT's warrantee expired so we have to keep her. Nobody thinks this is funny except me, and maybe my dad. Despite their fighting, Bean is a fantastic older sister to HT. Every day at school pickup, they have a slow-motion run into each other's arms. Bean picks HT up and hugs her firmly like they haven't seen each other in ages, when it's only been 2.5 hours and then they conspire against me and run around in circles while I yell like a crazy person to try to get them in the car. Bean reads to HT and covers her eyes during scary parts in movies. Together, they share a fondness for ice cream, poop jokes and dancing.
Bean is six. She is my beautiful, not so little girl. She has tiny, light freckles that dot her cheeks and her blue eyes glow when she smiles. She is bright, stubborn, imaginative, thoughtful, and determined. Every night I kiss her head while she sleeps, and every night a slight smile curls her lips in the darkness. I remember my own mom sneaking into my room to give me a kiss. I'd always feign sleep and watch her from the doorway, thinking how silly it was for my mom to sneak a kiss to a teenage girl. Now, I get it. The love that we feel as parents is so great and unrestrained at times that only the stillness of night can contain it.