Tuesday, April 21, 2009


In Which We Count to Two...

Dear Elizabeth Claire,

Well, my little Éclair, you're two years old today. The idea that there are no longer any babies in the house fills me with the most contradicting feelings of stark relief and utter despair. But really, there's no arguing the point. THIS is no baby:


Like your big sister before you, you jumped from babyhood right to small womanhood, only you did it faster. You do everything faster. When I think back on your big brother's baby days, everything took longer. Your brother (and can I say here how much I love that you call him "Brubby" and not his given name? Which is exactly what I did to my Big Brother when I was two, at least according to our parents) was a baby for years on end. Then the Brownie came along and I thought she grew up rather quickly. But baby, she was a slowpoke compared to you.

I know it's mostly a birth order thing (well, birth order and sheer genius), but you did everything earlier, from walking and talking to climbing the pantry shelves to the high place where the M&M's hide to wrapping the males in your house around your stubby little fingers.

In the nearly four months that I've been home, you have inexorably bent me to your tiny will, much to the shrill exasperation of your mother. Incidentally, it really bugs her that after asking her anything she tells you "No" too, you immediately turn on your little heel and seek me out to ask for (actually, what really cheeses her is that I tend to give it to you. Except that crème brulee torch. I'm drawing the line: It has to wait til you're at least three).

These past few months--a whole twelfth of your life--have been hard for me, in a way I hope you never experience for yourself. It's a terrible thing to find that I have become a walking cliché--the unemployed middle-age middle manager, the out-of-work father of three. But rather than let me dwell on that, you fill my days with a constant, noisy, messy, frustrating, wonderful, joyous string of demands. I love how you approach me for things, wandering in past me, as if you were looking for your Elmo doll or the little piano thing the childless couple gave us, and then veering and coming at me from ambush to yell, "Daddy! Want you!"

Actually, like you're doing right now.

I love how you insist on having the first bite of whatever I'm eating (I warned you that enchilada was hot, though). I love how you yell for me and Blaze--not Mommy--to come rescue you from your afternoon nap. I love how you can't let me do my work without being a micromanager, to the point of sitting in my lap while I type.

Like you're doing right now.

I conffffooffess iiiii wishdh you dintttttttttt inssssist @$#%thyryeurooooo on mashingggjsl;kg the keyyss whilllxlkjbl while I type, because it forces me to get you in a right-armed bear hug and type one-handed, which is slow and annoying. But I'm willing to put up with it for a bit. A paragraph, anyway.

You probably don't know this--although you're so scary smart I wouldn't put it past you--but there was a point in time when your mom and I didn't think we were going to have any more than two children. And then when we came back from New Hampshire that last time in the summer of 2006 and found out you had snuck aboard for the ride, we weren't quite sure we could handle it. I've talked to a lot of parents over the years who have counseled me on the dangers of letting your children outnumber you, so I admit I was a little worried. Then you showed up--two years ago today--and it was as though every last tumbler in my life had finally clicked into place.

Almost from the first day of your life, I've said that you resemble your grandmothers. When you get worried or put out, you look a lot like Grammy N. But when you've decided it's time to get me off my dead ass and do something, you have a look that is a pure distillation of my mother, the Grandma you never got to meet. You were only on the same planet together for five days. Grandma got to hear you (I held the phone to your hospital crib when you were about two minutes old) and she and Papa at least got to look at some pictures of you. But it's small consolation when you remember (as I always will) that she and Papa were just eight or nine hours--a mere business day--from getting to see you before they died. That was a hard thing for me to deal with, especially with a recovering mommy and a new baby in the house. Actually, it's still hard. In fact, I know there are days over the past two years when it would have been downright unbearable, so bad it would have brought me to my knees permanently.

But somehow, having you around made it all easier to bear. I don't know whether that's because it's hard to focus on death when you're around a baby with so much life in her, or you just decided I needed to be kept busy so I couldn't stop and feel sorry for myself (something your grandmother was also rather skilled at). But either way, I have to tell you, in perfect honesty, that I think your being here saved my life. In fact, every day you continue to save my life.

Like you're doing right now.

So, Happy Birthday, baby. I know the kids have already given you a thousand nicknames--Zuzu, Puppy, Turd-face (that one was from you brother), Stinkypants (your sister), Harooo (the noise Blaze makes only when I go to get you from your nap), Buggy, Lil Bit, Bitty, Bumpus, and many others. These days, you are almost universally regarded as Little Bizzy (when you say your name, it comes out "Bizzet," which your brother and sister quickly modified to "Bizzy" and my God it suits you. You are the busiest--and occasionally dizziest--baby I've ever met).

But no matter how many names you go by, no matter how old you are, no matter how big you get, you'll always be my little Éclair.


Frame that post MM for someday it will bring her to tears(kind of like it did me)
As for her learning so fast, siblings cut the edges off the learning curve and she has two dandies.

Happy Birthday little one. Stay little a bit longer for Daddy.
Promise me - PROMISE - that you'll give this to her some day. I know she'll treasure it.

Happy Birthday sweetheart. You're a lucky, lucky little girl to grow up in such a special family.
Man, when you write something along the sentimental line, you really know where to go to pull out all the stops, tug on every heartstring available, don't you? Truthfully, I love it when you make me cry. Hope that doesn't sound too weird or off the wall, but it's the pure truth and guess that tells you too what I thought of this piece. Just beautiful! I never heard the line of "Don't let your kids outnumber you" before but I can see now -having raised three children -alone, no less, how much truth there is to that statement! And yes, I sure can understand how easily one can say a child saved my life, my sanity, whatever cause that's exactly what my granddaughter did for me!
Peace and cheers for the Eclair on her birthday and may she have many, many -hopefully, a kazillion -more too!
My husband and I are less than four months away from welcoming our first child (also a girl). That and the pregnancy hormones have be practically crying after reading this (I probably would cry outright if I weren't at work). Thank you for sharing this. I look forward to getting to know my little one.
I TOTALLY know where you're coming from with this post.

My oldest is two and a half and in the past three days she has not only decided to potty train herself, but learn all the words that go along with it.

Which is nice, except that when I got cut off in traffic on our way to daycare the other day the first word I heard out of the backseat from Peanut was "Oh Sh*t!"

Lucy, I think I've got some esplainin' to do.

Beautiful post MM.
Beautiful, MM, just beautiful. And I knew that there would have to be a reference to your parents, because I know that horrible anniversary is fast approaching. I remember this because that anniversary is but 6 days past my own, equally sad 2 year anniversary. My how the time flies, and it seems that Fate (or at least the powers that be at Google/Blogger) have presented me with a new potential nickname for Eclaire. The word verification is: Bablet. Seems like it could be appropriate, no? Anyway, HBD to the Eclaire (or Bablet), and good luck with the Irony Project.
Gee Thanks for getting my tearducts flowing. Beautiful.
It just CAN'T be two years, can it??? How the hell did THAT happen??

It's amazing how they come along and save your life. Even when you didn't know it needed saving.

Happy Birthday Bizzy!
Amen! Alleluia!

Mike Z - father of 5.
Happy birthday, Eclair :)
happy birthday, eclair.

congratulations on surviving babyhood, mm. i concur - you must give this to her one day. it's a precious gift, to be so loved.
Happy Birthday, Tiny Girl!

You were one of the most-waited-for babies in the Blogosphere... and now we have the joy and privelege of watching you grow up through your Daddy's eyes.

Just like your brother and sister, you have an entire legion of friends, fans, and extended "family" out here in the ether... All of whom adore you.

Many, many, many Happy Returns of The Day! :)

Old Auntie Thim :)
*sniff* Posts like this really don't help me to disprove my fiance's assertion that I'm overly-emotional on occasion.

Happy Birthday, Eclair!
Happy birthday, Eclair! And a great blog entry there, MM. Hope everyone at the Masthead Mansion has a great celebration with her.
Happy Birthday, Eclair!

You don't realize it at the moment, but you may by the time you actually read this: Your Daddy is one of the best writers, ever. The wonderful collection of family chronicles he has assembled here will be a treasure for you in years to come. And, for that, he deserves a big kiss. Go ahead; give him one. We'll all turn our backs.
Happy birthday, little Eclair!

MM, awesome that you know how lucky you are.

Still reeling that it's been 2 years and still wiping away the tears your post instigated. So lovely.
She sure has that hands on hips action down. What a cutie.
I second, third and fourth all of the urgings to print this out, frame it and give it to Bizzy when she's older. Maybe when she turns 16. Maybe 21. Maybe when she gets married.

I am happy, too, that she is here.
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