She started out like this on September 9, 1993. (What is that thing on her head? For some reason, mothers in the early 90’s thought that having stuff on baby girls’ heads was cute. We were wrong. Very wrong.) She was the easiest delivery I had of the three. 2 pushes and there she was. When they handed her to me for the first time, her eyes were wide open as if to say “Ok…what are we going to do today?”

When she was about a week old, I had her in her little baby seat and I sat it on the coffee table (in the middle) and ran to get her bottle out of the refrigerator (about 3 seconds). She was hungry, ready to eat and in those couple seconds I was away, she had gotten so highly pissed off, she had flung herself out of the baby seat, onto the floor. She wanted to eat!

The same tenaciousness appeared when she was learning to pull herself up at about 7-8 months old. She’d pull up to the coffee table (the same one she flew off of), fall right on her face…she would get SO mad, but, she’d keep pulling herself up. She still is very hard headed when she gets her head around something she wants to do.

She started talking when she was 9 months old. I don’t remember her first word because she said so many words. She would sing herself to sleep before her first birthday. If she wanted you to pick her up, she’d say “I wanna hold you.”

There are only 20 months between her and her older brother. They used to be the cutest little team. One morning, they “redecorated” their room with a Sharpie. A black one. The walls, the furniture, the beds, themselves…

She played soccer for a few seasons. Her first coach said she was a natural athelete. Sports weren’t her thing though. I grieved that she never showed any interest in softball since that was my sport. I got over it.

She started wearing glasses when she was 5. For about 2 years, she had not spoken a word in public, at school or church. She’d talk to us, but, would not talk to anybody when we weren’t around. We didn’t know what was going on. We had a child specialist observe and examine her. Nothing. Then, she failed her eye exam at her Kindergarten check up. I took her to the eye doctor and he sat her in a chair on one end of the room and had her watch a tv at the other end of the room. He put all kinds of lenses in front of her eyes and administered some drops. When we went out the waiting room to let the pupils dilate, she said to me, “Mommy, I want some of those things to watch tv with.” I started bawling and realized why she had not talked. She couldn’t see. She was confident around us, but, away from us, she was scared to death.

She’s pretty motherly with her younger brother. She can be with the older one, too. She fights with #2, and he’ll say, “She hates me.” I know better than that.

She has a great sense of humor and I’m so glad. Most of the time, she can laugh at herself. I’m glad about that, too. I see so much of myself in her, when I was her age. She hates when I say she’s like me. Facts are facts. I don’t envy her being a 13 year old girl in 2006. It was hard being 13 in 1982, but, I think, it’s much harder now. Sometimes I wish I could snap my fingers and she’ll be through this awkward stage. She’ll get through it fine as long as she can keep laughing.

When did she turn into this young lady? How could it have happened so fast? This morning when Mr. Smiff got in off the road, about 6 a.m. I said, “Our baby girl is 13 today. Where has the time gone?” Either he was too tired to say anything or think about it or it’s just too much for him to put into words. I think it’s the latter.

When she was little, she was very attached to me. I used to say to her that we were the “Bestest Girlfriends in the Whole Wide World.” It was so cute when she’d say “You’re my best guwrfriend in the whole wide wurd.” Even though she prefers the company of the likes of these girls at the moment, she knows deep down who her best girlfriend is.
Happy Birthday, Dear Tara.