The skirt

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My daughter has a skirt that she absolutely loves. She wears it on all occasions, but she favors it most over her grey leopard print jeggings. I bought her this skirt just before Halloween from Walmart. It had no price tag so I got it for $4 with the warning that I would not be allowed to return it. No worries. I knew from the beginning it was not going back. There was only one, just like there is only one Mickey.

It has a tye dye under layer and a black spiderweb mesh that hangs over the color. It’s soft and light and she loves it! She knows it’s 2013-11-03 14.31.27a Halloween skirt, but I predict she will be wearing it until it simply does not fit any longer. All winter she has worn this skirt, her leopard print jeggins, her royal blue kitty shirt and her pink and blue heart rain boots. And she trots around with her curly hair bobbing down over her shoulders with a spunk like no other. She is my Mickey. She is unique in every way and an inspiration to me to live life to it’s fullest and to not fear to be who I enjoy being!

Mickey spent the first 15 months of her life strapped to my back in a backpack. She was not a happy baby. She didn’t laugh much, nor did she smile. She cried and fussed… a lot. The backpack was my only solution. So what was that little baby doing for all of that time on my back? I believe she was watching. From the very start she watched her brother. She watched him play, watched him scream, watched him smack her across the face with his drumsticks (ouch!!). She watched everything I did. And apparently she learned.

Aside from her extreme timid nature, Mickey was a normal baby. She developed her skills right along with the other babies. She learned to talk at an average rate. But at 21 months she did something not so average, at least for me. We had just come home from a week long vacation in Sunriver and the week before vacation she was trying to use the potty. I assumed she was just being curious and didn’t allow for any of that on vacation, but the day after we got back, she took herself to the potty and said,

‘This is how we do it.

We pee on the potty.’

And that was it! A week later she was awarded with her very own pretty pack of panties and not long after that she refused a pull up at night because Jonah wasn’t using one! I understand now that all of her watching was also the result of a lot of learning and a lot thinking. She spent the time to put two and two together and has continued to watch, think and learn at this same rate.

I have had the joy of having a ‘bonus’ year with Mickey this past school year. Her 5th birthday was in December so she missed the cutoff for Kindergarten by a few months. She is ready for preschool, but we simply could not afford to send her. I think that’s okay. Mickey has grown in wit and confidence in just this past year. It was once my fear that she would never adjust to social situations. We spent many hours trying to adjust her to the church nursery, leave her with a babysitter, leave her with grammy, sometimes even her daddy wasn’t welcome to hold her! I didn’t leave her with a sitter for the first two years of her life! It was extreme. So extreme that I despised her! She overwhelmed me in every way. She physically and mentally drained me. But that has changed. Those clingy years seem so long ago, but as I think about them they bring back the difficult memories.

Mickey has always looked to Jonah for her confidence. I believe they both owe each other greatly for the people that they are. They are a symbiotic pair that would not have ever developed as individuals without each other. Jonah exudes boldness. He has no fear and lacks tact. My biggest fear for my children was that they would follow in my footsteps of crippling childhood shyness. Mickey is the perfect storm for the ultimately shy child, but her brother has rescued her from this demise. She’s watched him interact with people and she’s mimicked every move with wit and boldness. She is confidant because her brother has been the best teacher in the world of personality. He’s given her the ‘okay’ to come out of her shell and embrace life in a way I would have never predicted. Praise God for Jonah! I believe that God placed him in her life for just that reason. To rescue her from a life hiding in the shadows. He is a direct answer to my pleading prayers to not have shy children.

Now that Jonah has been in school and struggles socially, I believe the tables have turned and that Mickey has been Jonah’s rock. Her love, acceptance and tolerance for her brother has given him that strength to keep trying in school even though some days are so, so hard for him. He defined friendship to the autism specialist as:

‘someone who will listen to me, play what I want to play and loves me like my family. My sister is my best friend.’

Her impact on him is just as powerful as he has been for her. Together, they have created an inseparable bond and rely wholeheartedly on each other even though they now claim they do not always need each other. Well okay, they will grow apart, but they will also always posses a bond that is the foundation to who they are now and who they will become.

So, back to that skirt. Mickey’s baby and toddler years were rough. Without an understanding of where she’s come from it’s hard to appreciate who she is now. She is who she was meant to be and because of her tenacity and influence from those closest to her she is now growing into her personality.

This past weekend we went to Redding as a surprise trip for our kiddos. They were ecstatic! We stayed in a motel with a pool and took them to Turtle Bay where they got to see lots of animals and feed the lorikeets! While playing in the water feature, Jonah got a bit out of control and splashed a large girl dressed in all purple. She was at least 10 years old. In response to being splashed, she 2014-02-16 15.19.23literally soaked my kids! This must have been an acceptable practice in the family because her mother, who stood no more than 10 feet away, watched in approval. My kids gasped out in a chorus of screams and tears as they came sobbing to us. ‘That big girl got us wet! She soaked us!’ Jonah’s response was that he hated her. He wanted to smash her face. Mickey was very unhappy as well, but took a different approach. She wanted to go into the reptile house and see the animals. She knew she needed to find a solution to her wet clothes and move on. After taking a few moments to compose herself she said, ‘Oh okay! I have an idea!’ She then ripped off her soaked shirt and pulled that little tye dye Halloween skirt up over her chest giving herself a skirt tube top! I could not help but laugh and thank her for her attitude and take plenty of pictures! What a refreshing twist to a sour situation. No face punching. Just a little attitude shifting and we were off to the reptile house!

This is what is so precious about my Mickey. She is practical. She is flexible and she is kind. Her love for life and animals and her family are evident. She tells me daily, sometimes hourly, how much she loves me. She is also honest, but in a 5 year old innocent sort of way. Just tonight she said, ‘daddy I love you, but I really love mommy more because she’s my mommy.’ Funny thing, I was the same way. I loved both of my parents, but I related to my mom the most and still have a bond with her that will stand the test of time. My Mickey sees life with a twist. I’m not sure where her comments come from. If I ask her to repeat them she can just like she was saying them for the first time! She is hilarious and truthful. Here are just a few Mickeyisms that I’ve remembered to record:

We saw a man walking into Target the other day wearing pink pants. Mickey’s response? ‘A man in pink pants?! What will they think of next?’

Tonight I told her the dentist wanted her to start flossing every night rather than every other night. ‘Okay, I’ll keep that in mind.’

Last week she caught the cats sniffing each other: ‘NO! Don’t do a butt sniffing contest!’

After playing with her beanie boos: ‘If my head was as big as a beanie boos… It would fall off! If my head was as big as a T-Rex… It would wobble off.’

On a Saturday morning when I just wanted to sleep in: ‘Why does it take you so long to get up in the morning?’ Me: ‘Because I’m an adult and I like to laze around.’ Mickey then says, ‘Daddy always sleeps around!’

After seeing a large pile of leaves this fall: ‘Holy nugget jumping cats!’

And the final silly story from a while back… We were in Portland at a hole in the wall eating establishment and Mickey had to use the potty. She proceeds to have a poo, looks down into the toilet and says, ‘It looks like a flower! I’m not done yet. I need to put another petal on it. Okay, I’m done making art now!’ Tmi? Maybe, but it was hilarious!

Childhood is fleeting. All parents feel that twinge of pain in their hearts as they consider how quickly their children have grown.2014-01-20 15.51.36 Babies do not last. Toddlers toddle into children and children quickly move into preteens. It’s history from there! I cherish my littles, but daily I am focused on 18 and 21 and 25. Not because I want to rush them, but because I want every influence and impact I have on them count for that day that they start making those adult decisions on their own. Every day marks a world of growth in my children, but it also marks a day of growth in me. They are as much a part of me as I am them and they are forever changing me. I think different, act different and cherish time (or lack of) differently. And my dear Mickey, at 5 years old, imparts such wisdom in me that she stops me in my tracks. She is an old soul.

She told me the other day that it would not be fair for me to not let her grow up and move away. That it was her choice to make and her life to live. She promised to come visit, but said, ‘It’s my life to live. Enjoy me while I’m little because I won’t be little for very long and you should enjoy me for me now.’ Her 5 year old wisdom is deeper than many adults I know. Yes, it is her life to live and live well. It’s her time to discover, grow and challenge. She is a treasure, but just knowing that she understands this fact, that she will grow up and move on from me, breaks my heart! I almost felt a panic to grab her and demand she take it back! But she is right and I am proud of my girl for knowing and being brave enough to tell me. She is a treasure. Someday she will understand her impact on her mommy, her brother and all of those lucky enough to know her. I love my baby girl!


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