Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Happy 21st Birthday, Darling Daughter!

My youngest daughter E is twenty-one today. I really wanted her to be born on the nineteenth, maybe because it is a prime number, but mostly because I thought having a birth date of 9/19/1991 would be so very, very cool. I like the repetition of the digits and the symmetrical non-symmetry.
As it turns out, E didn't need a special birth date to be an extremely cool person.
When E started walking her first serious target was our bookshelf. A few weeks after she gained bipedal mobility she grasped the cover of our copy of The Complete Works of Shakespeare and pulled it from the shelf. We actually tacked cross-stitch fabric over the lower shelves to protect our books (and her tiny toes). I'm not sure we needed to do so, except that some (like Shakespeare) were pretty heavy.
When she turned four years old I sat down to read a book to her, one of her favorites. As we sat and I said I'd read it, she said that was okay, she would read it to me. Astounded I watched my daughter do so. When her GrandDaddy asked her how she knew to read she simply shrugged and replied "Yesterday I was three and I couldn't read. Now I'm four and I can."
She has always had a love of books. Even when she was in a high chair her Grandpa George would entertain people with his favorite magic trick.
"Watch this," he would say, and he'd hand a book to E upside down. No matter the book, she looked at it briefly and then righted it so the text was correct. Grandpa George just laughed at that.
/* Personal note: I really loved Grandpa George, and I still miss him. I always will. He never doubted me. */
Grandpa George would sit at the breakfast table and read the paper to E while G'ma bustled with breakfast. I have no doubt he contributed greatly to her love of words (although not much to her interest in current events). His favorite book to read to E was Snow White. She learned to count when she was very small also, though she did it precisely as Grandpa George did when counting the dwarves: "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven and Snow White."
E's memory is uncanny at times (probably always). When she was in kindergarten they learned a bible verse a week. One Tuesday I asked her what bible verse they learned. "Psalm 100. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands." I congratulated her on knowing it already and she looked at me, a bit puzzled. "I'm not done," she said and proceeded to recite the entire Psalm to me.
That was probably the most useful Bible verse I ever heard. We used it for baths. E hated baths, so I made a deal with her. As her foot touched the water, she could start reciting Psalm 100, and I'd pull her out immediately when she was done with the Psalm, regardless of her state of cleanliness. I learned two important things from this. Firstly, long hair is hard to wash, but you can still wash a small child, top to bottom, including hair, in about a minute if you focus. You have to be fast! Secondly, I learned Psalm 100. Those were our "Psalm 100 baths." What we need now are Psalm 100 showers!
When she and the Lad were older I convinced them to learn Romans 12. E had it down in just a few nights, and the Lad a few nights after that. I still stumble on parts of it. Romans 12 is full of good life lessons. I hope they both realize that as they get older.
E became Winnie the Pooh in the very first Kids' Backporch Productions. I was so proud of her. She had the entire play memorized, every part. I needed that memory often. (I was Eeyore - hey, it was type-casting!). I've seen her in a few plays and productions since then and she's quite talented. She was the author of one of the plays.
One of the most amazing things was when she volunteered for a summer trip fixing houses. As she left that first summer, I said to her "You can do anything, but don't do roofing." She ended up doing roofing and garnered praise from all her co-workers. She volunteered for two summers.
She loves people. She doesn't get that from me, I don't think. Most people tolerate me and I reciprocate. On the other hand, I'm fairly certain she doesn't talk to computers like I do. That's probably a good thing.
She doesn't love horses. She took a class on horseback riding and it taxed her animal loving abilities. However, the experience did result in a number of funny personal non-fiction articles that made me chuckle.
I was delighted when she took up ARMA, learning to fight with broadswords. The only girl in the group, she was almost giddy when she told me she advanced from white shirt to red shirt. The next level is red shirt? Really? Don't they watch Star Trek?

Masada, the trail up

When we went to Israel, E and the Lad climbed Masada, barely breaking a sweat doing it. I am still proud of them for that. That trip to Israel is one of my fondest memories.
A few years ago, in 2009, Darling, E and I had the chance to go see a live performance of Fiddler on the Roof. Topol played Tevye, in what was billed as his farewell tour. She and I sat next to each other almost quoting the entire production.
She's just that good.
She told me the other day that graduate school is like a two-year vacation. She gets to read books for classes. She reads papers for work. She writes papers for publication and will be traveling to Kalamazoo for a conference next spring, on a panel for something to do with Knights in Tights. No, that isn't quite right, but I don't have her memory.
Happy Birthday, Sweetie! I hope that you always love doing whatever you do.

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