Someday when Ryley is an adult, I will compile all my blog posts for her, and she can read through her childhood from her mother’s perspective. She may not like everything I’ve shared over the years, but it is what it is, I suppose. ;-) Regardless, it will be my gift to her.
Hopefully, more than anything, she’ll get a glimpse of how crazy we are about her. Of course I’ve heard that love multiplies and a mother’s capacity to love increases with every child she has, and I’m sure that’s very true. But sometimes I feel like we have enough love for a whole family of children, and Ryley gets the brunt of it. She is the focal point, and I’m sure it’s a bit smothering to her at times. :-)
She’s certainly not nearly as cuddly as we would like her to be. I would love for her to sit down next to me on the couch, her nine-year-old gangly legs curled up under her as she leans in to my side, watching TV. But it’s just not going to happen. She’s too busy doing her “Ryley thing,” whatever that means from day to day. She’s always been on the move.
Even before she was born, Ryan and I have played a silly little game called “Joy’s Baby/Ryan’s Baby,” wherein we have tried to identify which of us she takes after….
I’ve started keeping a list in my phone of words that Ryley mispronounces in everyday conversation because she has only ever read them in books. This week’s choices?
- Cooperate (pronounced Coop-er-ate)
- Determined (pronounced “DEE-ter-mind” with a long I in mind)
- Resume (pronounced “Resoom” with a soft S)
The thing is, she is so stubborn that she rarely allows us to correct her pronunciations without a fight.
“Well, that’s how I’m going to pronounce it.”
That’s Ryan’s baby. In every way.
She sits there in our living room armchair, crisscross applesauce, playing the latest Taylor Swift song on her I-Pod, line by line, and writing down the words. Line. By. Line. Stop. Write. Play. Stop. Write. Play. Then when all the words are written down, she plays the song again and sings along with Taylor. Over and over and over again.
That’s Joy’s baby.
She plays the Laura Ingalls-era penny whistle my mom gave her to the beat of Morse Code because she saw a chart of it in one of her books. “What am I saying?” she asks, then delves into the beat via her whistle.
Toot. Toot. Tooooooooot. Toot. Tooooooooot.
That’s Ryan’s baby.
The other day Ryley showed me a paragraph she had written for school, and I noticed the words “its” and it’s” were each used within the paragraph, and they were used/punctuated correctly both times. Just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, I pointed to the word “its” and asked why she didn’t include an apostrophe. Ryley calmly re-read the sentence, substituting the word “its” with the phrase “it is.” She then looked at me expectantly, as if she wanted me to draw my own conclusion for why there should be no apostrophe.
That’s Joy’s baby.
She has an obsession with the German language. Both Ryan and I took German in college, so we know enough to understand basic conversation, though we’re not fluent by any means. Ryley read a book this summer where a German character was introduced via the following conversation:
“Ist das Amerika?”
“Ja. Das ist Amerika. Wilkommen, Wilhelm. Wilkommen!”
Ryley’s impression of this conversation, read or recited to us probably 30-plus times this summer – the combo of her exaggerated accent and lilting voice – leaves us laughing every time.
A couple of nights ago, she used the German translation app on her I-Pod to help her write a note to me in German, asking me for permission for something. She clearly thinks I know more than I actually do. I don’t know why she thought it was better for the request to be made in German, except that she was trying to butter me up. And um, it worked. She got what she wanted.
Um, Joy’s baby. ;-)
She asked Ryan if she could download an app of a game involving the Periodic Table of the Elements.
No question. Definitely Ryan’s baby.
She names her stuffed animals, usernames, and passwords after favorite characters in books and movies. That is, I think, a little bit of both of us: She likes to name everything, like me, but she uses book characters, like Ryan.
I have been teaching Ryley piano for four and a half years, since she was four years old, before she could even really read. She’s got talent, she enjoys it, and it comes naturally to her, but we honestly haven’t progressed very far. The moment it gets a little too hard, she gets impatient with herself and loses her temper with me. I have threatened to send her to a new piano teacher probably five times in the last year. Then I back off because I don’t want her to hate it. I want her interest to lead us; I didn’t start taking lessons until I was nine anyway.
But every year before my Christmas recital, she renews her desire to learn/practice in the interest of playing in the recital. She’s competitive, and she couldn’t stand for a recital to commence without her involvement.
The musicality? Joy’s baby.
The stubbornness? The impatience? The competitiveness, even? Ryan’s baby. :-)
The desire to perform? ALL HER.
All these little parts of her personality -- little bits of me, little bits of Ryan, and tons of bits that are all her very own – all combine to make our Ryley girl.
Between the quasi science projects going on at any given point in our kitchen or her bedroom floor,
the doll clothes she made with packing tape and scraps of material before she had a sewing machine, and the shoebox-turned mailbox sitting in the hallway outside her bedroom door, Ryley’s mind is always working, and life with her is always exciting. Her creativity knows no bounds.
She makes no apologies for her nerdiness; she comes by it honestly and naturally. She is 100 percent completely herself.
And we love her for it. :-)