To my daughter, on her fifth birthday

It's Addyson's birthday, and Lisa van de Geyn's reflecting on how her "awesome little person" is growing up.

addy&peyps Birthday girl Addyson (right) earlier this morning, with sister Peyton. Photo: Lisa van de Geyn

Follow along as Today’s Parent contributor Lisa van de Geyn weighs in on parenting issues and life with her two young daughters. Stay tuned for occasional posts from her husband Peter as he shares parenting stories from his point on view.

Last night, while Peter was emptying the dishwasher, I stopped what I was doing and announced, "I can't believe we'll have a five-year-old kid tomorrow."

Today is (obviously) Addyson's fifth birthday, and when I think about how awesome she is, and how much she's changed us, and how awesome it is that I made this totally awesome little person, I get all sappy and giddy. (I also think about how many times I can use "awesome" in one sentence.)

To mark her special day, and my fifth anniversary being a mommy (not counting the nine months before she was pulled out of my belly), here's what my five-year-old looks like to me:

1. She's tall. She'll be taller than I am, but that really isn't saying too much. I'm fairly certain she's already taller than her 90-year-old great-grandmother, Bubby Ann, but that, too, really isn't saying a heck of a lot. Still, she's tall.


2. She's wise beyond her years. She's logical, thinks before she speaks, and has amazed me by questioning the universe's secrets ("Why does the moon look like it follows us when we're driving home from Bubby and Zaidy's?"), and hypothesizing on matters way beyond the scope of a kid in kindergarten ("I'll have room for my pasta after this bread and dip [olive], because there's more than one section of my stomach to fill.")

3. She knows what she wants. She's particular about the shade of pink she's wearing, and knows which of her dozens of accessories will match said shade best. She prefers dresses that allow her to twirl easily when pretending to pirouette. She's also ambitious. When I asked last week what she'd like to be when she grows up, she said "hairdresser." Music to my ears. A good stylist is hard to find. When mine closes up shop, I won't have to go through that awkward "who's gonna do my hair" phase. (You know the one.)

4. She looks to the future. (Sorry, Mom, but I have to share this story.) Earlier this week while at my parents', Addy had a particularly — how do you say — messy bowel movement. When things weren't getting quite as clean quite as quicky as she would've liked (don't act like it's never happened to you), she called my mother in for assistance, and had this to say: "Bubby, when I'm 12 and get my own phone [note], I'm going to take it to school. And if I have to poo at school, I'm going to call you from the bathroom, and you can drive over to make sure my bum is clean." Forward thinking at its best.

5. She believes in magic and Disney princesses. She lights up when new little princess (who became a princess overnight, as the song goes) Sofia gets into a jam and is helped by some of the greatest princesses "who ever lived," including Cinderella and Jasmine. She sites unicorns among her favourite animals (giraffes are in there, too) and assures me that she won't be shy when we "fly to Mickey Mouse's house and meet all the princesses who live in the castle before the movie starts." If she loses this adorably girlie belief before we can afford to go to Disney, I'll be devastated.

6. She's a cheerleader. She roots for Daddy and Zaidy when they're playing baseball. She roots for her little sis when Peyps is "playing" soccer. She roots for Bubby Ann when they visit her in the hospital and force her to try walking down the hall. She roots me on when I'm cleaning bathrooms. "You're doing a wonderful job cleaning Daddy's shower, Mommy; way to go!" she recently exclaimed.


7. She knows how to communicate with babies and small yappy dogs. She gets all high-pitched when she talks to her nearly-nine-month-old cousin, Sebastian, and her fur cousin, Meeka. Who taught her to do that? It's brilliant.

8. She's calculating when she needs to be. Some of her hiding spots for things she doesn't want Peyton to find are seriously impressive. And kind of frightening.

9. She's matured, but she's still my "suck-a-face." That's what I call her when she steals my nightgowns, finds good creases, rubs the creases between her forefinger and thumb, and makes a little face and noise I can only describe as the way it sounds when you open your mouth slightly and continuously touch the roof of your mouth with not the tip of your tongue, but the entire thing. (You tried that just now, didn't you?) That's what she does when she's tired or watching TV and makes her suckie with her suck-a-face. I love that suck-a-face.

10. She's worldly. Thanks to her GG's family residing halfway around the world, she's gotten quite familiar with England, as well as British customs, culture and terminology. Her great-aunt Candy (affectionately known as "Molie" to her grandchildren and now her great-nieces) sends the kids "parcels" in the "post" and chats with them on Skype. (Molie has visited Canada twice since Addy was born, and she's quite the celeb when she's here.) Molie and her husband, Popsie, are so interesting to see through the computer. Both girls know that Molie lives in England, which is much farther than GG's house (in the east end of the Greater Toronto Area), but it's Addyson who truly gets the cultural and rich historical differences between the two nations. England is where the queen, prince, princess and new baby who will one day be king (also known as George or "Simba" live). In England, there was a time when one would say she was going to the "loo" to "spend a penny." In Canada, we go to the bathroom to pee, and, as Addy points out, it doesn't cost us money to do it — pennies or otherwise. In England, Molie fills her car with "petrol" and puts her shopping parcels and groceries in her "boot" and spots a "lorry" on the street once in a while. Addy's quick to remind Molie that what she means is she fills her car with "gas" and puts grocery bags in her "trunk" and sees "trucks" on the street. The kid is multilingual, what can I say.

11. She's a collector of rare finds. Open the top drawer in her bedroom and you'll know what I mean. Price tags, rocks, dead dandelions, cupcakes from the kitchen set, doll clothes, "mail" she's planning on catching up with (flyers found in our door), lipsticks, ribbon, etc. She covets her treasures.


12. She's a peacemaker and loves her peers. She's the "can't we all just get along?" girl, just like I was when I was in school. Among her most favourite friends, she sites Peyton, little S, little L, little B, and her 29-year-old aunt, Auntie Ky.

13. She's compassionate. She cares that a new girl, S, in her class cries for her mommy during the day, so she holds her hand and walks out with her when the bell rings and the kids are dismissed. If someone sneezes, she immediately thinks it would be a nice idea to send a "get well soon" card. She (sometimes) feels bad when her sister is tantruming for something she has, so she'll (sometimes) give it to her. When said sister says, "I love you, Daddy. I don't love Mommy," Addyson surveys the situation, sees the hurt in my eyes (that little monster is ruthless sometimes!) and immediately runs in my direction and showers me with hugs, kisses and a kind word to soften the blow: "Don't worry, Mommy. I love you, and so does Peyps. She's just being a bad witch right now." (Like I said — wise beyond her years.)

14. She embraces and expects physical contact in public. Thank goodness, because I'm not ready for her to push me away when I want to kiss her to pieces outside her classroom.

So there, in a nutshell, is a portrait of my five-year-old kid — my beautiful, hilarious, sassy, smart, silly, inquisitive, sympathetic, empathetic, loving, sweet, sarcastic, diva-like girl who makes me proud to be her mommy every single day.

Happy 5th birthday to my favourite oldest daughter who made me a mommy, Addy!

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