Friday, June 4, 2010


Today, Charlotte is graduating from pre-school. It was just moments ago that she was in a hospital blanket, swaddled tightly, wearing a pink and blue long shoreman's cap. She had blood between her fingers. They forgot to clean there. She was as warm as a piece of coal. She had a smushed nose, that had me seriously concerned about the possibility of having a not-so-cute kid. Soon after she was born, she had a red mark on her forehead, by her hairline. I had seen a show on television while I was pregnant with her, about a baby that had something called a hemangioma. This baby's entire face became covered by this runaway birthmark. I remember thinking to myself, I know my baby is going to have a birthmark on her face. I know this for certain. I recall asking David, as soon as she was born, how did her face look. Was it clear, and blemish free. He laughed and seemed to be surprised by my question. But within hours of her birth, I kept staring at this small red mark on her head, thinking, indeed, a runaway birthmark was rearing it's ugly head. The pediatrician insisted, it was a "stork bite". I knew it was not.
It grew and grew. It was indeed a hemangioma, also known as a strawberry mark. It got bigger, and it grew higher as well. When she cried, it grew angy looking and purple. It was a little alarming to see. I felt embaressed that my baby had this blemish. Why could it not be on her back? Her leg? had to be her face? Every where we went, people looked at her and said..." have a booboo"? I would explain to them what it was, and how it was going to go away. They were temporary. I would stress this. They didn't care, and in fact, looked at me like I was nuts. I stopped explaining after a while. And then I just stuck a hat on her. 
Charlotte has never been easy. She is a "strong willed"child, with a crazy imagination. She has always been needy. She has always been socially awkward. She has thrown fits, and tantrums, usually in public places. She wakes up grumpy some days, and flat out refuses to listen on other days. She has driven me to tears, and made me feel strong dislike. I look into her eyes, and sometimes, I feel no connection to her. She is such a different kid from Olivia. I know I am comparing, but that is what we all do. Olivia lives to please. She is me, only shorter. We even look alike. Same body types, same hair, and nails. Same feet. Charlotte and I look nothing alike. She is skinny, and lithe. She is 5, yet still wears shirts for 18 month olds. She has long, strange toes, and skinny fingers. Sometimes, I feel like she is someone else's child, and not my own. 
She is the child I worry about the most. She was a sick baby, plagued with chronic ear infections, and reflux. She required tubes in her ears, and she nursed until she was well over two. (Gasp!) She has ruined more social events for us by her behavior, and made both David and I feel rage and anger by our inability to understand her, and control her. I had to pull her out of pre-school when she was 3, because she was miserable, and cried, and stressed so much about school, it broke my heart to witness. 
Sometimes, I feel like Charlotte was given to me, as some kind of test. A divine quiz. I feel like most days, I fail miserably with her. I have no patience for her crap most days. Yet other times, her observations of nature touch me. She notices small details, and questions the strangest things. She has such an ability to tell stories. She has an imaginary friend. Her monkey. Monkey goes on wild adventures, and visits crazy places. Some days, her tales of Monkey drive me nuts. I just can't listen to her, for a minute more. But one day, I know Monkey's tales will cease. He will be put away, and she will speak of him, no more. The thought of that makes me incredibly sad.
Today is Charlotte's pre-school graduation. I am filled with happiness. She is magic.

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