Thursday, August 10, 2017

Hazel is four (and a few days)

This is the first time I’ve ever started writing a child’s birthday post on their actual birthday, and then finished and posted it days later. Things have been the extreme opposite of settled here (“unsettled” isn’t strong enough a word for what I’m feeling); it’s been three weeks since we moved to Wollongong and we still have no internet, I had an awful assignment due a week ago that seemed like it was designed to try to kill me, and then promptly got sick the day I submitted and have since (somewhat ironically) spent my time wanting to die. And again: WE STILL HAVE NO INTERNET. (Optus have sent us two modems now, despite the fact that we ended up cancelling our account with them due to rage-inducing incompetence.)

My tardiness in making this post happen is the latest item on a long list of parenting-Hazel-related things I feel guilty about. I’ve desperately wanted her to have exactly the same opportunities and experiences as Moses in the hope that any comparisons she makes with him won't leave her feeling second-child-ish (i.e., gypped). But then we moved so that Mo could go to a school down here, which meant pulling Hazel out of her preschool – where we’d decided, late last year, to not buy her school photo (because they cost $40, and, as far as we knew, she’d be there for another two lots of photos we could then refuse to buy) – and placing her in a new school where the expectation is that children attend five days per week from the age of four (I’m hoping another round of pleading will mean she’ll be able to start full weeks next year instead of next term...). Hazel currently lives for her two days at home, one with me and one with Alan, and I hate the thought of her missing out on an extra year of this time with us; what if one day, when she’s leading a gang in prison, we think through everything leading to that point and realise it can all be traced back to this very decision to uproot her from her beloved preschool and rob her of one-on-one time with parents?! THAT COULD TOTALLY HAPPEN.

Anyway. During the unpacking Mo and Hazel found a scrapbook of photos and notes made for Mo by Kerry at family day care, and then another scrapbook filled with his preschool memories, along with a preschool group photo of him and his friends looking tiny and cute. Moses asked me, “Does Hazel have a school photo?” to which I said no, while furtively making cut-throat motions at him (turns out he has no idea what that even means). Then Hazel asked me, “Do I have any books like Mo’s?” I said no again, but quickly grabbed my phone to show her the app her preschool had started using in place of sticking actual photos onto actual pages. She scrolled through a few pictures, then turned back to Mo’s books and flicked through the many pages documenting his childhood.

She looked (to me, at least) totally gypped.

Being a second child is hard work. (It seems, at least; I spent my earliest years as the eldest – HA!)

Hazel at four: She’s a lot like she was at three, but more articulate, stronger, a tad more stubborn, and far more obsessed with random Disney princesses (Moana was the first, then she dabbled with Jasmine for a bit before moving on to Belle) and mermaids. She told me she wanted her birthday party this year to be mermaid-themed, and then, after I’d sent out invitations, she decided she wanted it to be Halloween-themed instead. A friend suggested a Halloween-mermaid theme, which Hazel was completely sold on, especially after seeing this picture. She's now telling everyone there’ll be mermaid skeleton cupcakes at her party. (She also told me she wants to play ‘What’s the Time, Mr Wolf?’ and ‘Pass the Parcel’ at her party. She has the whole shebang arranged in her mind, apparently; our job is simply to bring the thing to life. No pressure.)

Hazel’s easy-going, but also clear about what she does and doesn’t want. She’s patient and cuddly and forgiving and generous and fun-loving. She dotes on her big brother. She’s told me she wants her ears pierced, a tattoo, glasses, and earrings on her teeth (we eventually figured out that she meant braces). She’s also asked if she can live at home with us forever until we die.
Hazel loves: being read to, having her nails painted, looking through books on her own, being carried everywhere, being read to again (the same book, from the start, immediately after finishing), being in cahoots with Moses, playing chase with a parent at soccer, flying foxes at parks, ordering banana bread and babycinos at cafes, having sand piled on her legs to turn her into a mermaid at the beach, having the same book read to her for a third time, singing along to songs from Moana or Sing, and dancing (her routines have a strong contemporary flavour). She has an amazing ability to memorise lyrics after only one listen (the sounds of them, at least; most of the time she has no idea what she’s actually saying. I discovered this after hearing her belting out the Samoan parts of Moana songs). She loves finding my phone and taking selfies…
swinging with Dad…
and burping.

Hazel loves swimming. This time last year she hated the idea of getting her face wet; now she’s completely comfortable in the water, trying out different moves and spending as much time as possible under the surface. Even by January this year, before she could swim well enough to reach the edge herself, she’d throw herself into pools knowing someone would quickly rescue her, and she’s still convinced that Uncle Chris and Aunty Elyse’s place is the coolest in the world because there’s a pool in the backyard (she shares this fact with strangers occasionally).
She also started gymnastics this year – she was desperate to do dancing; this was the compromise – and quickly developed some amazing skillz, balancing on the beams, pushing herself up from bars and hanging-down-ring-thingies, and bringing her legs to make an L (these are official gymnastic terms, obvs). Her teachers were also impressed by her balance, strength and willingness to try new things; I promise it’s not just the maternal pride speaking.

Hazel hates: having her hair washed, having her hair brushed, having anyone suggest she wash and/or brush her hair, having someone suggest she get her hair cut so that it’s not always so knotty and therefore difficult to brush/wash, and any meal that’s not spinach and ricotta pastizzis.
She can write her name and has started figuring out the fundamentals of reading (“‘b’ starts with ball!” she tells us). She’s also a very careful colour-in-er and draw-er – this is a picture she copied a couple of months ago, which I adore:
This is her portrait of Alan and me:
And these are butterflies:

Hazel loves colourful things, which she regularly notices and points out; she’s especially keen on flowers, and used to pick every one that caught her eye until I convinced her that taking photos would be a kinder way of appreciating their beauty and sharing it with others. She notices when things are out of place, too - she likes cupboards closed after use and things being put where they belong; I appreciate so many things about her, but this is high on that particular list.
Hazel, my darling: I’m sorry you arrived after Moses and therefore have had to spend the past month listening to your brother whinge about how unfair it is that your birthday comes before his. I plan to buy a scrapbook and print out the preschool photos from the app, so you have a collection just like Mo’s (although I'll quietly remind you that I only recently got around to printing labels for the CD cases, five years after buying them). I’ve also contacted the preschool photographer and been told he’d be happy to print off an extra one, 10 months after taking orders, just for us. Basically, I'm doing my very best to make life feel as un-gyppy for you as I possibly, possibly can.

I love you to pieces, gorgeous girl.


Post a Comment