I am daily in awe of this small child that I call my daughter, Marguerite Marie Kiemde. Born May 22, 2010, at St. Joe's hospital in downtown St. Paul, MN, to Francois Kiemde and I, this little girl is rapidly emerging as a fiercely independent, dancing, lunging, walking, willful wonder. I pause this day to reflect a bit on her growth, personality, and all that she's tickling in me.
Social, cognitive, physical, and maybe spiritual developments rattle inside my brain:
--"Hi" is Marguerite's favorite word, used to greet us daily when we enter her room, along with every human being, or creature, who passes by. "Hi. Hi. Hi. HI." She will repeat this single syllable word incessantly as a delighted salutation, as well as a way to mean, "But can I have some more kefir?" Or "Toby, will you give me that toy?" or "Daddy, turn and look at me while I eat my cheese raviolis?!"
--Long gone is the once uttered "Bye bye" as Marguerite seemingly stands firmly in the present and the constant celebration of people arriving, rather than departing. (Note: She will wave when I say "Au revoir", but refuses to speak the b-consonant-sound and word.)
--Her friend Lisa Michaels taught her to "high five" and "blow kisses" one afternoon, and, as Ms. Michaels' insists, "to send text messages." This makes us all laugh and giggle with our communicating wonder.
--Coupled lately with the repeated "Hi" is another favorite word, "daddy." Daddy is everywhere. I marveled -- while sitting in mass yesterday -- that perhaps this was one of the those words and child-inspiring lessons, where I was being invited, through my daughter, to truly meditate on the Divine in our midst. "Daddy" in the apple. "Daddy" in the cat. "Daddy" in the trees. "Daddy" in the picture of me as a baby girl. Daddy, as in a masculine father/ Creator -- a God that I believe completely in, and that she seems to see everywhere, and greets joyfully over and over: "Hi, hi, hi...HI daddy!" She received a ceramic cross plaque at her baptism that reads, "God created everything, butterflies and birds that sing, the sun above and sky so blue, but best of all, God created you." She reads this above her changing table, points to herself, points to the cross and says, "daddy." It makes me smile.
--Whilst big sister Gabby visited us for three weeks this summer, other developments surfaced in our family's social interactions. As Mags insisted on pointing repeatedly to my nose one day, I asked, "Can you show mommy your eyes?" To which she immediately responded by placing her finger next to her eye. Gabby and I about fell over laughing, and in awe of what she seemed to understand us asking.
--The emergence of a new dance-like move -before going to bed one eve - delighted me to no end, and has since been seen in her daily movement vocabulary. Little girl tilts her head to her shoulder and then pops her arm and wrist, twirling her hand in such a way: you'd think she was going to attempt some pop and lock move.
--Gabby's morning routine greeting her baby sister undoubtedly was a highlight of her stay, having a developmental impact on Mags. The elder Kiemde girl would come in to Marguerite's crib area, and sing "Hello" snapping her fingers, twirling, shaking parts of her body that aren't possible to move so seamlessly in this mom. Maggie immediately tried to mimic the snap, pressing her tiny thumb and first two fingers together and giggling. (There's nothing quite so inspiring as this kind of non-verbal interaction between sisters. It's priceless!)
--Going down for her daily nap or to sleep at night includes the activity that has me most by the heart strings, as I observe and reflect on my baby girls' relationship with words and images in our book-reading ritual. My daughter's recognition of her own name, written in a book, is what has me baffled lately. We are sitting in her bedroom rocking chair, me holding her on my lap, she holding her favorite nursery rhyme book. I am reading the second page of the text where the line reads: "This book belongs to...." with Ms. Kiemde's name spelled out in cursive letters, and as I do so, she looks up at me, then back at the page, points to the line, and then points to herself.
I am blown away.
--My final note on Marguerite's development stems from her upright, physical movement. While many of you received the video of her first day walking, it's actually her climbing of steps, that has me more in awe and taking note. She bounds up staircases. There's no "on your knees" forward motion, but, with her hands reaching for mom or dad, the most confident approach to going up: one foot on a step following another. She will get so excited about this process, that her whole body will become parallel to the floor with her fast footwork forward. Step. Step. Step.
I have told her father, and other family members: we cannot criticize this child for her big movements. She is excited; let this be every indication that her spirit and dreams in life are large stepping ones; we are not to dash her ambitions or dreams about moving in any direction! (Especially as she boldly proclaims, "Hi daddy!" with each step.)
Happy developmental contemplations -- as we all reflect on our physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual growth journeys!