My first and, as it turns out, a veritable emotional echo. I’m not saying she is not her own person, but withering look and dramatic gasp alive, this child has my most annoying quirks. We are in what I can only believe is a preparatory stage, flexing muscles and building scar tissue to prepare us for what will surely be a lively number of years of push and pull and scream and gasp.

I am at once amazed and exasperated by her growing attitudes, whether it’s the militant adherence to rules, the know-it-all snobbery or the desperate depth of emotion. I try to honor, acknowledge and accept each one, but I fear I may be becoming toxic for the “likes” and the sighs.

“Like, mah-um, I need to like, do it like, how I need it.”

Just when I think I’ll have to banish the use of the word she swoops in and wipes Fin’s runny nose, hugs her sister unprompted or simply says, “I just love you so much.” She is amazing. Tonight we stood in front of the computer and searched for answers.

What do snails eat?

Where do kangaroos sleep?

What state is Paris in?

She understood for the first time that the computer is not just my work, it can be a gateway. She could have stayed all night. Bedtime brought new questions and new aspirations:

Does being a mom hurt?

Can I be more than one thing?

Will we always be us even if stuff changes?

I know that many days I feel like I am suffering the attitude of four, but tonight I realized I am witnessing the fortitude of four.

Special thanks to Mike for the beautiful photo.