Happy Birthday, Katie!


Last night, we went to Michael's soccer game. And after the game, families and friends of players congregated around the field fence waiting for the players to come. This is a funny scene and I'm new to it. Lots of middle-aged parents, a smattering of girlfriends, a few college guys,  and the Foss kids, including an exuberant Katie and baby Karoline. Katie is a pixie, a sprite, a sunbeam.  She is all joy. And last night, sensing perhaps the downturn of emotion after the loss, she donned her silly hair and danced in and out among the people there, drawing smiles and giggles despite the mood. It's her calling really--making people happy. She does it all the time here at home. She's not oblivious to grim moods or crankiness; she's just determined to dispel them.

Her Daddy has told her since she was born that she's the "Queen of the World." And he treats her so. He hoists her high onto his shoulders and lets her wave like a queen (much like St. Therese's father carried her). She calls him on his way home from work and asks him to bring her ice cream. If he declines, she reminds him that she's the queen of the world. He acquiesces and all is right with the universe. Spoiled? Not really. It's more like a family tradition.

She sprinkles happy dust everywhere. She's also very strong-willed. Katie's birth was traumatic. She had been breech at 37 weeks and then she flipped to vertex at 38 weeks. I thought all was well until an appointment at 39 weeks. She was breech again, with her foot in the birth canal and I was about five centimeters. Surgery was indicated immediately. After six unmedicated births, I was ill-prepared for this one. And I reeled for a very long time. Recently, Katie happened upon the books I'd used to prepare Mary Beth to be with me when Karoline was born.

Katie: I'm never going to have a baby.

Me: (surprised because she loves babies, real and imaginary) Why in the world not?

Katie: Because I saw how they come out and I'm never going to do that. Ever. Ever.

Me: (kicking myself for not being more careful with the books and wondering about future grandchildren) Katie, it's not so bad. You don't have to watch if you don't want to (o.k. so this was totally lame but I was on the spot and grasping at straws) and really, it's pretty cool when it's happening. Trust me on this one.

Katie: Nope. I"m not doing it. And you know what? If I were a baby, I would not come out that way. If I were a baby I'd tell them that I"m the queen of the world and they'd have to find another way.

Right. You would.

And that is the first time in five years I've had a good, hard laugh about Katie's birth. Happy dust. Everywhere.

I told her yesterday that it was her last day to be four and her face clouded. "I love four. Four is a very wonderful thing to be." I'd love four, too, if I were Katie. I've loved four with Katie. Her Daddy is gone today and her Mikey is, too. She's very attached to these men in her life. But I'm going to do the best I can to make the first day of five even better than four. And I'm going to stay very close to Katie. I'm looking forward to a sprinkling or two of happy dust.

(The bear says "Someone at George Mason University loves me." She carries it everywhere. And someone really does.)