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June 5, 2015

Happy Birthday, Iris

IMG_20150313_121516“You are mighty, you are small. You are ours after all.” 

Two years ago today, the world delivered us the funniest little person. Two weeks late, covered in peeling skin like a reptile, and with two teeth coming in already. Received into a family that was ready for her, waiting for her, and was made complete once she was finally here. “I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words, how wonderful life is while you’re in the world,” is the song I sang to her first when she was four days old (while I was eating sashimi in bed, Stuart was hanging laundry, and Harriet was doing her Thomas the Tank Engine sticker book), and I’ve sang it every day ever since.

She is ferocious, and very noisy, and perhaps the mostly likely person in the world not to be lost in Harriet’s shadow. She pinches, bites and spits, which is charming. When she behaves badly, we’ve been telling her to go away, but now she’s started screaming at US to go away (or at Harriet, after she has pinched her and drawn blood, which doesn’t really help matters). She will not sit down, ever. We are used to her standing on table tops and benches, but it makes other people nervous. She is attracted to the margins of things—she walks on walls, likes gutters and ditches. She walks on the grass beside the sidewalks, and picks the dandelions, and yesterday she discovered what happens when the dandelions seeds all blow apart—like magic—and the look on her face was pure ecstasy.

IMG_20150526_192215She is a funny one. Last week during dinner, it occurred to me that she looks like Anne Enright. “Iris is cuter than Anne Enright,” someone emailed me after, but I think that Anne Enright is adorable. They both look like a mischievous elf, or else a grumpy one. Iris has no idea that she is only two. She conducts long and elaborate conversations in gobbleygook while waving her hands emphatically. She can laugh and laugh at nothing, just eager to be in on the joke. (“Knock knock,” she says. “Who’s there?” we ask her. “Oofoo,” she says. “Oofoo Who?””Apple!”) She calls dogs “oeufs” and whenever she passes one, she says, “Allo oeuf.” She continues to have a French Canadian accent, and calls her sister ‘Arriette. She loves to sing Baa Baa Black Sheep, the Annie soundtrack, and Let It Go. She literally learned to sing before she could talk. She talks all the time now. She dances all the time too. She’s going to playschool in September and I think she’s going to love it.

irisShe also loves her birthday presents, being as passionate about tea, cakes and bunting as everyone else in our family. I love that her limited vocabulary contains the term “book barge.” She does her best to keep up with the big kids, and will not be pandered to—she eats EVERYTHING with a fork, because babies are often denied cutlery, to the point where she eats sandwiches and goldfish crackers with a fork. Do not put a lid on her glass of water either, though that is less because she doesn’t want to be pandered to than she wants to drop her bread in it and then drink the water with a spoon. And while she is the endless tormentor of her poor sister, she also adores her. Wants to go and find her first thing every morning (and not necessarily just to bite her). She has her own flower, and she knows it, though she is also quite insistent that pansies are irises too. She gives the best hugs, is quite the snuggler, adores her daddy, walks everywhere (but more often runs), likes ketchup, is a juice fiend, and is usually somewhere screaming for cake.

Two is a trial. I remember this. When Harriet was two, she had to be carried out of everywhere screaming, “More more more!” Iris is similarly passionate, but on a different keel. When she gets angry, she likes to hurl things to the floor. But two is also amazing—the onslaught of words that arrive, so that there are stories to tell, secrets share, and more jokes than just oofoo. It’s incredible to have a sense of how much better we’re going to get to know her over the next year—she’s going to have her own idea for a Halloween costume, I mean, and when she turns three, she’ll choose her birthday theme. (When Harriet was three, it was dinosaurs.) She’s going to be a person with tastes, beyond just the “cake cake cake” that’s her speed now. I am excited to discover them. I am also excited to trim her fingernails more often so that my skin doesn’t get so maimed in the midst of her rages.

While life certainly is not ALWAYS wonderful while Iris is in the world (she is so exasperating), it is completely wonderful on a  different level. As in, you are terrible, but you are here, and we love you. Sometimes it is really as simple as that.

One thought on “Happy Birthday, Iris”

  1. Maia says:

    As the mum of a similarly ferocious two-year-old (who was also ferocious as a one-year-old, and as a newborn!), this post made me tear up. Happy birthday to your wild, wonderful girl.

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