By the time you read this, GirlWonder will officially be 21 years old. That is, of course, impossible. I am certain she was born last year. I have never been terribly good at math, but that just seems right to me. Or maybe she’s four? That was a wonderful age.
Then again, she was an easy keeper and equally a joy (for the most part) at 8, 10, 12, 16 and 20. We celebrate each birthday in awe of the gift of this sweet, smart and sassy young lady.
She had big plans for her 21st birthday. Her brother was excited to take her out on the town with his friends. His Christmas gift to her was also a ticket to fly south to visit her best girlfriend in Florida. This would celebrate the completion of the Law School Admission Test, slated for days before her birthday. Suffice to say, April was going to be kind of a big deal.
Then the entire planet was grounded by the coronavirus. For anyone living under a rock or on another planet who is somehow unaware, this is not the good, cold beer on the beach kind of Corona. That would work for a 21st birthday. No, this is COVID-19. This fast-moving virus has the entire world on lockdown.
Thus, this tiny baby girl of ours will celebrate under quarantine. In order to help make her birthday special, and perhaps help with the prospect of spending that milestone with her parents (get excited!) I spent the month posting a photo, story or fun fact about her every day.
There is, of course, nothing a young adult likes better than her mother reliving her childhood through photos and cute stories in the media. Fortunately, our children have a better tolerance for this than most, since mama is a journalist. Trying to pare down to two dozen facts about someone I have known for 7,665 days is no small feat.
Each day, I shared stories, such as when she was caught being mean to her little friend at age three. When pressed on why she had hit her, GirlWonder drew herself up indignantly and insisted that she did not hit her friend — she punched her. She’s always been a go big or go home kind of gal.
She is a kind hearted animal lover who isn’t afraid of much — except spiders. Spiders she will want to kill with fire — always. She has a tender heart and a strong kick. She’s witty and wickedly smart. She has taken the loss of freedom that comes with a worldwide lockdown in stride.
Many days when my spirit was waning, it was her unflagging optimism that kept us smiling at home. In honor of that, here is a little story about GirlWonder at about age four that says all we need to know.
GirlWonder is 22 months younger than her older brother. He was her first hero and first role model. She wanted to do everything he did. She wanted to have anything he was having. When he was six years old, BoyWonder loved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. To this day he eats one almost daily.
GirlWonder, on the other hand, never was a fan of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. In fact, she absolutely loathed jam or jelly as a child. Nobody’s perfect, I suppose. Imagine my surprise when I was making lunch one day and four-year-old GirlWonder insisted, petulantly, that she definitely wanted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich just like the one her brother was having.
I reminded her, laughing, that she didn’t like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. With all the conviction of the very stubborn preschooler she was. She doubled down hard. She wanted exactly what he was having. She wanted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
But, she instructed, “no peanut butter on it, please. Also, please no jelly. Instead, just put ham.”
“So you want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich but without any peanut butter and absolutely no jelly? I should just replace those with & ham?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said.
This is how for quite some time her “just like her big brother s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches looked an awful lot like ham. It’s her world. We just live in it.
Looking back, I had to laugh. At four, she reworked the sandwich to be exactly what she wanted.
Today, she makes everyday count by staying upbeat and focused. She does yoga. She takes online courses. She laughs with friends online.
She takes what could be a fairly grim time in the life of a vibrant young person and makes it work for her. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade they say. Or, at the very least, turn it into a ham sandwich.
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