Juliette the Great

This is Juliette on the first day of school. Since she started attending preschool at nineteen months, this is the third time she's posed for a first day shot. I love this picture; it's so Juliette. The brilliant smile, the tilted head, the mismatched outfit. The beauty.

She's had a rough go of it lately, as a scary high fever (105.7!) last week threw off her sleep and her mood. We went days and days without temper tantrums this summer, but we're in one of those spells where we're lucky to go hours between fits. I don't always handle it well, and we seem to know how to push each other's buttons.

While I'm sure the advent of her sister is an element of the emotional mix, Juliette has yet to give Genevieve so much as a wayward glance. She absolutely adores the baby. This afternoon, in between kite flying at the park and ballet class, we were sitting on the front steps eating granola bars. I was holding Genevieve in my lap, and Juliette scootched over to us, pressed her cheek against mine, put one arm around my neck and one arm around the baby, and cooed, "Oh, Genevieve, we love you so much!"

We're trying really hard to give her the skills she needs to handle the big emotions she inherited from her parents. If we succeed, I think she's going to be a person of significant emotional intelligence and depth. And embodiment. She already has a charming maturity about her displays of affection; she pats me on the arm like a grandmother sometimes. She requires a lot of snuggling, which is no surprise, since she didn't ever want to be set down as a baby. She regularly asks for "mama time" after dinner - to sit on my lap and cuddle - and her worst temper tantrums don't end until she curls herself into my lap.

And the gratitude. If she hears the postman deliver the mail, she'll dash over to the screen door, fling it open, and shout "Thank you!!"

I worry that it's off-putting to gush about my kid like this. I know every parent thinks their kid is exceptional, as well they should. Every kid is exceptional, in his or her own way. The fun part is paying attention to what makes them so.

Like that morning a few weeks ago when Juliette showed up in our bedroom at five, crawled under the covers, asked if the dishes in the dishwasher were clean, and promptly fell asleep. She's exceptional all, right. Exceptionally weird.

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