|Bella and Charlie at the Houston Arboretum|
First off, there's Bella, who's eight. She is by far one of the sweetest little girls, if not human beings, I've ever met. Here's a perfect example: the other day my mother-in-law slammed Bella's middle finger in the car door, and when I say slammed, I mean all the way closed. Bella tried her very best to keep a stiff upper lip, but when her finger started turning black, she kind of lost it and started wheezing out a noise that was a cross between a moan and a howl. Meanwhile, my mother-in-law, also known as "Honey," had also fallen apart COMPLETELY, and was beside herself with anguish. But Bella, who always worries about other peoples' feelings, was troubled that her grandma was upset, and shakily tried to comfort her through teary jags, saying, "Don't worry, Honey, it's not your fault...it was MY fault because I put my finger in the way of the door." Three hours later, as we're waiting at the emergency room she whispers to me, "I'm sorry you have to go to all this trouble for me, Mom. I won't let it happen again." Ugh -- heart wrenching.
Bella wrote a poem at school recently and the last lines were, "Peace flies through the wind on a Saturday night. Peace lives in my family room by the fireplace. Peace walks down my street in the afternoon." When I read this I nearly cried because it's just so honest and so pure, and also because there's no question that my daughter is a far better and more appreciative person than I am.
Bella does have her faults, however. She is as dramatic as they come, and once she starts sobbing it's virtually impossible to get her to stop. And she's not one of those quiet, docile criers. When she cries, she cries LOUD, and her mouth uncannily resembles the shape of a giant peanut shell (it takes everything in my power not to laugh at this.). Furthermore, Bella is super skinny, and when I hold her and rock her, which is usually the only way I can get her to calm down, I feel like I'm holding a moving bicycle in my arms, limbs and elbows poking at me everywhere. I think I may even have some bruises leftover from her last episode.
But there's really nothing sweeter than a little girl, and I feel blessed beyond measure to have a daughter that loves me and wants to be with me 100% of the time. Now Charlie, on the other hand, couldn't give a SHIT about spending time with me. This kid, who's five, wants to do WHAT he wants to do WHEN he wants to do it. Usually that consists of building Legos, drawing, watching Pinky Dinky Doo, and eating white, tasteless foods (namely, tortillas, string cheese and bread, in that order. It's actually shocking that he's not more constipated.).
Charlie is breathtakingly handsome (I'm perhaps a tad biased), and the girls LOVE him. Literally, when I pick him up from school he has a throng of lasses chasing him and trying to tackle him so they can play doctor and patient (Charlie is always the patient, smart boy.). He also loves to adore himself in his reflection. He often stands naked on the bathroom counter and preens in the magnifying mirror as he soulfully sings the lyrics to his mystifyingly favorite song, "Jessie's Girl."
Charlie loves to do anything related to art, which I suppose he got from my father, and he'll spend hours drawing, building, or play-dohing. This visual and observant nature of his creates in him a certain softness and intuitivism, and therefore he's a genuinely sensitive and kind little boy. If he knows that you're sad that he has a Rice Krispie treat and you don't, he'll immediately cut his in half, no matter how ravenous he is. He'll take the blame at school for something he didn't do so Tommy won't get another time-out. And he is wonderfully gentle with children younger than himself, even tiny babies.
The kid can be a challenge, however. He is annoyingly impatient to the point of insanity, and he has a tremendous amount of difficulty in expressing himself. He is one of those inward types, whereas Bella and Teddy are so expressive you know every nuance of every emotion they experience (which can also be fucking exhausting). Charlie retreats into himself and it is hard to get him to talk -- about anything. And I often feel guilty for the simple fact that he is a middle child, and that he subsequently gets a little shorthanded in the attention department. But as a parent, the only thing I can do is my best, and thus I continually tell Charlie how special he is, and encourage (or beg) him daily to talk about his feelings.
Honestly, I feel so very proud of my three children, and so truly grateful that they are as happy and healthy as children can be. Parenting is definitely the most challenging, as well as the most rewarding, thing I have ever done. It is a constant exercise in selflessness, but it is one that I would do over and over again. And I know my children will adore me forever, but that they will also break my heart at times, as we all did with our own parents.
And the truth is, I wouldn't have it any other way.