Livia in 2016

Dear Livia,

Here are a few stories about you from 2016.

Fifth Disease: earlier this year you came home sick with something that the school nurse believed was Fifth disease. Neither your dad nor I had ever heard of it, so we looked it up on the Internet. Apparently it’s common, and a lot of people have had it, often without knowing that they’ve had it. I’m pretty sure that the diagnosis was correct (the facial rash is very distinctive). Anyway, you loved having Fifth disease. You told anyone who would listen that you had it, even after your symptoms were long gone. You took your condition so seriously that one night, dissatisfied with the available selection of nightclothes, you demanded “pajamas appropriate for Fifth disease.”

Picky, Picky: in kindergarten you started getting school lunches, and you did not like most of the meals. Hot dogs and chicken nuggets were fine. Everything else was not. But we encouraged you to try other things from the menu. We thought that the constant exposure to other foods would be good for you and that eventually you’d learn to like more of them.

A few weeks into the school year I got an e-mail from your teacher. She said that the kitchen staff had been doing their best to accommodate your wishes, but since you had no known food allergies, and since they had hundreds of lunches to serve, could we please explain to you that you could not get items customized? I laughed and laughed when I read that. It was so like you to get everyone around you invested in your happiness!

But, while the e-mail was funny, I was disappointed that you’d managed to wrap the lunch ladies around your little finger. They should know better. So I asked your teacher to tell them NOT to cater to you. And I asked you not to pester them, but rather to get SunButter and jelly sandwiches on the days when nothing else appealed. Everyone seemed satisfied with these instructions, and I thought I had solved the problem.

Uh-uh. We recently found out that the lunch ladies have been serving you jelly-only sandwiches. Apparently you had a “big talk” with them. You told them that you didn’t like SunButter, and they caved to your demands. So I think it’s safe to say now that school lunches are not going to help you get over your pickiness. On the bright side, we have made some progress at home. You will eat your salad if it means getting dessert. You’ve also started to like steak.

Singing to Mommy: one night you came over to me, sat in my lap, and sang me an impromptu song about how much you loved me. You started with skin and blood. Blood, blood, blood. Then you sang that you loved me “past my bones” and into my brain, and that you loved my heart. It was one of those rare moments during which I wished I had a video camera trained on us. You had the most adorable smile with the tiniest, most beautiful teeth, and you were being so sweet and innocent and inadvertently gory. It was a perfect moment.

Everyone’s Annoying: one day you hit your brother, and you said you’d done it because he was annoying you. I explained that you can’t hit people just because they’re annoying. I said, “Even Mommy is annoying sometimes, right?” I don’t know what response I was expecting. Maybe a nod? But you looked straight at me and a great weight seemed to slide off your shoulders as you confessed, “Yes. Yes you are. You really are annoying.” I couldn’t help but laugh. You didn’t understand why I was laughing, so you exclaimed, “No. I’m being serious. You really are!” I knew, and that’s why it was funny. Mothers are supposed to be annoying. We had a discussion later, though, to let you know that though you can tell Mommy absolutely anything (because Mommy loves you so much), you shouldn’t tell other people that they’re annoying, even when they really, really are.



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