‘Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.’
“Are there elephants in Australia mummy?”, “What about rhinos?”, “Giraffes?”. You turn your porridge bowl around and ask me in turn if each animal on its rim can be found in Australia.
Then you make up your mind: “Yes, I would like to go to Australia on an aeroplane. Please.”
You’re answering a question Uncle Kerr asked you. Yesterday.
You arrived into the world with a large bump on your head where you repeatedly banged it for a day and a half trying to get out, a little left of centre.
Left of centre, your preferred position, still.
You hate baked beans and the dark and tidying up. You love ‘psgetti’ and cocoa and strawberries and ramen noodles. You love baking with your daddy and you love finger-painting more than any mummy-driven-craft-project I come up with. You love the ‘No-livia and Papa Rexus’ made-up stories that you beg your Papa for (as long as he gets all previous details correct). You love just one more book from Nana, just one more minute in her house. “I DO like you mummy”, you told me to my amusement last night, “I just like Nana Beethie MORE”.
You love curling up in Papa Ernest’s chair and you love eating all Nana Berta’s treats. You love running round and around the outside of their house and you love playing with you daddy’s old Fisherprice toys on their floor.
You love Jane from across the road and don’t leave her side when we go on outings together. Jane knows what all the trees and plants are and the pair of you stop to look at all the insects and talk to all the dogs and to go a bit closer to the river than mummy lets you. (In fairness, you and Auntie Jane are usually IN the river).
Your feet seek out every ledge or edge or wall or line on the road. Your fingers touch every button, wall and surface. You are always climbing and exploring, hanging off things that aren’t supposed to be hung off.
You make your raisins talk to each other while your porridge bowl cools, forgotten, beside them.
You notice the things in the distance and are often oblivious to what’s in front of you.
You take the scenic route, endless detours, even if it’s just across the living room floor.
You have an inability to hold your head still so we embrace the ‘messy’ style of plaiting, incorporating every twist and turn of your wandering attention. You have the kind of hair I’ve always wanted, though, thick and smooth and taken for granted.
You have your daddy’s face, all your Arnold genes gathered in one place, while the thoughts and temperament behind it serve to thwart the Arnold modus operandi at every turn.
You love your little sister, your partner in crime. You shared a room for 2 months in the summer until we acknowledged you have too ‘spirited’ a relationship to be roomies. You fight, of course, but it is the shrieks of laughter that usually need investigated. When you’re not causing destruction together you’re usually cackling and howling as monsters and witches, or calling out to each other dramatically: “Mama?”, “DAR-ling!”.
You offer theories about everything you come across (why that car crashed, where that litter came from, why that thing isn’t working, who that person might be).
You unravel with too much choice, or expectation. “I’m not sure“ and “That sounds a bit tricky” are your go-to-answers when under pressure.
You thrive with a basic routine and wide margins in your day for wandering and wondering. You love open space, and you love to be curled up at home. It is the end of the world if you’re tired, and it always has been.
You are cautious, sometimes. You listen to your inner voice. You are not a child that can be persuaded, or coaxed, or bribed. You do things when you want to and when you’re ready and I guess I hope you always will.
Today you are 5 and last week I found myself googling in search of an old Huffington Post article – The Day I Stopped Saying Hurry Up. I don’t think I’m ever going to stop saying it, daughter. We’d never get to school. But I’m trying to say it less and it reminds me, completely, to cherish you my stop-and-smell-the-roses kind of child.
It reminds me that I LOVE the way you are.
I love that you take your time. I love that you colour outside the lines. I love that you deviate from The Plan and twist the instructions and sneak your own rules in. I love your abstract questions and your zany sense of humour and your wicked little laugh when you’re really amused. I love that, more often than not, I find you standing on your head. I love the endless thoughts that fuel your chatter, and I love your Quiet.
I love that you are FIVE in so many common, shared, universal ways. And I love that you are YOU in as many quirky, not-in-the-text-book, still-trying-to-figure-you-out ones.
So Happy Birthday Livi-kins and in the words of our wise old chum:
we’ll go to the top of the toppest blue space,
The Official Katroo Birthday Sounding-Off Place!
Come on! Open your mouth and sound off at the sky!
Shout loud at the top of your voice, “I AM I!
I am I!
And I may not know why
But I know that I like it.
Three cheers! I AM I!”