I sang lots of songs to you tonight while you drank your milk before bed. You took a long time finishing your bottle - maybe because you knew I'd stop singing when you finished. I didn't mind. It's been a while since I was able to sing for that long without getting so choked up with emotion I had to stop. You've stopped humming along like you used to. I hope that isn't my fault.
You are our twinkle toes - our little fairy delight. Everywhere you go you travel on your speedy toes, belly and chest out, unafraid of your exuberant momentum. What a fearless little sprite you are, running full speed on the pavement with a soccer ball in your arms. You don't want to throw the ball. You don't want to kick the ball. You just want to hold it close to your chest, under your chin with a binky in your mouth. Some day you'll drop the ball and squeal with exaltation as it rolls away. Some day you'll chase the ball, catching it or kicking it farther down the hill. Some day you'll bounce the ball and discover its many hidden properties. But today you're content holding it - and I am content holding you as you suck milk from a bottle. I don't need you to drink milk from a cup, eat rice with a fork or peaches from a bowl. I don't need to see you roll away. I am content holding you to my chest, under my chin, a binky in your mouth.
When the binky is out of your mouth, you replace it with laughter and words. You came home from Megumi's gasping after each sip of water - a satisfying ahhhh as though you've downed an ice cold brewsky. I half expect a resounding belch to follow such a pleasurable sigh. Your dad is also teaching you how to slurp drinks and the daily popsicle you two share, and this morning you mimicked, with impeccable accuracy, his mischievous cackle. Oh well. Someone has to teach you how to slurp, burp and ahhhh while I teach you the finer phrases of life . . . please (pwee?), thank you (aridato!) and I love you (Ah ya dee!). Megumi says you also clapped your hands together and said gochisou-sama deshita after dinner, but I'm still waiting to hear it myself.
You point to the things you want to try and yell koko! We discovered your love of balloons when we came home from the DeoDeo, the electronics store, with not one but TWO balloons AND cotton candy - all free - all because you're you and you're cute and your chubby face demands balloons, cotton candy, and whatever other humble offerings can be whipped up in an electronics store. Wondering when that iPod they promised will arrive . . . You came home with your orange and purple balloons - one filled with helium, one with my own CO2. I tied them together so the helium balloon would stop floating out of your reach. You must have danced around with your balloon nunchucks for 2 and a half hours - a record for any toy, to be sure.
You love being chased. When you hide in the tatami room you are invariably waiting to be found, chased (you on your twinkle toes) and tickled within an inch of your life before repeating the process about 16 times. Catch and release. Sometimes you close yourself in the futon closet and can't get out. We laugh and think this is great fun. You don't agree.
Your favorite movies are Totoro and The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. If I let you, you can sit through the entirety of one of these movies on the coffee table without blinking. I check on you as I cook dinner and you smile at me, babble something and point at the screen, tears streaming down your face from lack of blinking. You love other children, and you love the Japanese people. You find an unfathomable amount of energy when you are surrounded by admirers. I feel guilty when you only have boring old me in our quiet old house. You are meant to be shared - to shine your light in as many places possible. Twinkle, twinkle little toes, how your laughter grows and grows . . .
You're an independent soul and it often breaks my heart that you don't need me as much as I'd like you to need me. Sometimes I feel like you're the one raising me . . . teaching me . . . guiding me with your song. And so you are. You are a knowing, happy little sage and I owe every smile to your existence. I see a piece of myself in you, Hannah - the piece that I must cherish and nurture - the piece that only I can cherish and nurture. I'm of course grateful for every bit of you, but that piece in particular is why I'm here, singing far too many songs into the top of your head, breathing you in until my lungs burn because I know you won't smell the same tomorrow. You'll roll a little farther down the hill and I'll smile at your boldness and bravery, despite how it pains me to see you grow.
I love you, Hannah Felicity. My happy flower. I am so blessed.