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ode to a 6-year old

2013 May 9
by Rachel Turiel

7:12 am. We’re at the kitchen table, eating breakfast. Rose’s face clouds with panic. “I forgot about the 4 squares of chocolate!” She clanks down her oatmeal spoon, zooms her eyes into their widest setting. “Four squares of chocolate?” I ask, buying time, always buying time. Repeat question back to child, gain 1 more minute to rise to the surface of morning. “Yeh-hess. Every day me and Col get to eat 4 squares of our new chocolate bar. We decided.” Her face is a mask of fierce determination.”Honey, it’s 7:12 am, there’s still some time in the day for chocolate.”

hh - spring4

I’m on a park date with Rose. The river runs below this park, beckoning for exploration and contemplative sitting. But there will be no quiet time by the river. No, it’s The Extreme Kindergarten Triathlon: swing, chase, tickle; repeat, repeat, repeat. I’m out of breath from a sincere effort to catch Rose’s slippery self as she careens through-up-down-in-around the toddler-sized equipment, giving new meaning to the phrase “head-banging.”

“Now push me sooooo high on the swings and then grab my feet.”

“Now chase me all around, anything red is base. When you catch me, you tickle me till I fall down.”

“Okay, here’s my baby (hands me a water bottle cradled inside a bike helmet), can you babysit her? I’m going off to write my column. I pumped some milk for her.”

rose bday2

Home. I toss myself onto the couch, sinking into the delicious flavor of non-moving while lustily eyeing up my book on the table. Rose grabs her neon-green jumprope and begins smacking bare feet on tile, fast: hop-pause-hoppity-hop-hop-pause-hoppity-pause-hop. It’s like tribal drums, like army boot camp, like a fierce and sparkly girl who never stops. She streaks like a comet through the ho hum-ness of our family, blowing the lid off our comfort zones, and blazing new trails, like, er fashion.

rose bday3

The glasses are a fashion statement, apparently.

“Wanna hear me speak Spanish?”

“This is actually called star dust tap-dancing, okay? Ready?”

“Guess how many times I can jump-rope in a row with my eyes closed!”

Sometimes I worry about this girl, this girl who samples the full range of emotional salad bar options daily; this girl whose wanting, expectations and preferences often eclipse the reality of what is. Sometimes everything that confounds me about her is everything that confounds me about myself. We stand opposite each other, defiantly, like some cliché about mothers and daughters and the button-pushing machine of this particular feminine lineage. The same fierceness that knocks me out daily, this fierceness I deeply admire, will lead her to brilliant and healing things. I know this.

I pick her up and whirl her in the air. Her jump-rope falls to the ground, her legs fly out like streamers. She shrieks, her smile opening the window of her face. Clouds of joy gather in my chest. We belong to each other. We need each other. And we’re both going to be just fine.

Happy 6th Birthday, Rose Raven. I love you more than all the tomato plants in the world.

rose bday4

Birthday breakfast: bacon and fruit topped with whipped cream. Oh yes.

PS: Rose, it was me who told all your friends that it was okay to give you experiences rather than things for your birthday. You’ll thank me someday.



22 Responses leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    May 9, 2013

    Happy Birthday, Rose! We hope that your day is everything you want it to be. It’s so amazing that you’re SIX!

    Aunt Jan and Uncle Dave

  2. Baba permalink
    May 9, 2013


  3. Barb permalink
    May 9, 2013

    the glasses rock, as does the whipped cream. Happy Birthday Rose!!

  4. Karen permalink
    May 9, 2013

    “Favorite line ever: “Okay, here’s my baby (hands me a water bottle cradled inside a bike helmet), can you babysit her? I’m going off to write my column. I pumped some milk for her.””

  5. May 9, 2013

    beautiful. Need to start thinking about my post my own six-year-old. Your first paragraph in particular strikes home — always buying time, buying time, trying to figure out how to answer an impossible question and trying to remember to breathe.

  6. Claire permalink
    May 9, 2013

    Love it! Happy Birthday to Rose!

  7. May 9, 2013

    aw happy birthday lovely one! x

  8. Melissa permalink
    May 9, 2013

    Avi and Rose should never be left alone with chocolate. Like ever.

    Happy birthday to your gorgeous girl!! And to you, of course! xo

  9. May 9, 2013

    happy birthday to you both….
    and goodness the older she gets the more she looks like you Rachel!
    my favorite part is the part where you know that everything that drives you crazy is what will make her great. my second favorite part is where you know you’ll be just fine.

  10. Chi-An permalink
    May 9, 2013

    Happy Birthday, O Rosest of Roses!

    And thank you, Rachel, for yet another beautiful post. It’s like you’re my conscience, reminding me to appreciate, well, *everything*. Our 6-year-olds have a lot in common. xoxo

  11. Ellie permalink
    May 9, 2013

    What a beautiful ode to this six-year old. Happy Birthday, Rose!

  12. Chris permalink
    May 9, 2013

    Happy Birthday Rose,

    What an amazing, spontaneous, wonderful person you are. It brings us great joy to share adventures with you and we love you so much.

    Chris and Iris

  13. brenda permalink
    May 9, 2013

    Happy Birthday Rose! I love your glasses… favorite…..”experiences not things”. That is the BEST birthday present ever, and she WILL thank you for it! :)

  14. May 9, 2013

    happy birthday, rosie roo – you sparkly gorgeous girl, you. and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, mama and papa! rose and col chose their parents well – so, So Well. xo X infinity

  15. May 9, 2013

    Sacred Continuation Most Precious Rose!!
    …and GREAT JOB onstage today!!!

    Dewa’s Daddy

  16. May 9, 2013

    Happy, Happy Birthday To You, Rose!
    Momma, what a beautiful ode to your beautiful daughter and your wonder-full relationship.

  17. May 9, 2013

    “Happy 6th Birthday, Rose Raven.” Happy birthday indeed! We too have a Raven! And oddly enough a Fin, just like Ben, who just so happened to write a really great response to a comment you posted on his website the other day. Coinkydink? If so the gods must be crazy.

  18. andrea permalink
    May 10, 2013

    I am thinking in that last picture she looks like her Grammy.

  19. Ellen permalink
    May 11, 2013

    I add my birthday wishes to the sparkly 6-year old and gratitude to her sparkly mom for appreciating her kids so much and writing so beautifully.

  20. Emmanuelle permalink
    May 13, 2013

    Happy sixth year lovely Rose! A perfect timing for your birthday – when all the flowers are blooming in the trees!

    (By the way did you know that in French “rose” means “pink” ?)

    Rachel, this fierceness in your little girl reminds me of your own fierceness in loving the ones you love :o) and of your own dedication to the things you believe in (like planting tender seeds in the earth or hearts; preserving fruits, vegetables and precious moments).

  21. May 14, 2013

    Happy Birthday Rose.
    What a wonderful way with words your mama has.

  22. Emily Reynolds permalink
    May 14, 2013

    Happy Birthday Ms Awesome Rose of All Things Awesome

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