A is for Amanda. Jarrah's 18-year-old pretend alter-ego, and apparently a friend of mine who likes to stop by for coffee to chat about her kid, Xavier, and movies we've both seen.
B is for Bossy. On playgrounds across the world, the sound you hear is my daughter telling strangers what to do and how to do it. Wonder where she gets that?
C is for Chess. New favorite game to play with Daddy. Hasn't won yet, but is surprisingly keen anyway. Wants me to learn. Not going to happen.
D is for Drama. It's a 24-hour festival of tantrums, fits of pique and storms of righteous indignation around here.
E is for Enter. Ever since she could write, there's been a theme and variations on the sign "DO NOT COME IN" on her bedroom door.
F is for Friends. The more, the merrier. One of the things I'm most proud of is how empathetic she can be with her peers. Also still tries to befriend teenagers, but it's harder now, and it causes me physical pain to watch them reject her. I've been told it's not my job to protect her from feelings, though. Rats. Really? 'Cause I totally want to.
G is for Gouda, Smoked. She's obsessed with the stuff and sometimes eats 5 or 6 slices a day. But don't try to pass off the regular, unsmoked Gouda as edible. Whaddaya think, she was born yesterday?
H is for Homework. We were spared last year, but are paying for it now--the packets that come home are full of mystifying word problems and "algebra." What happened to good old-fashioned addition and subtraction? Now, I check her homework, and then David checks mine--several times I've gotten stuff wrong.
I is for Ice Skating. The exciting hobby of the moment, and the first one she seems to look forward to, even asking to go early to her lessons for free skate time. We just got her real white leather skates for her birthday. Started the second level today!
J is for Joy. Her Chongqing cousin, they seem closer all the time. It used to be cute when they just played side-by-side, but now they have elaborate, pretend worlds and never seem to get bored of each other.
K is for Kiss. This act has become yucky, and she instructs David and I not to do it. When she saw a kiss in We Bought A Zoo recently, she announced, "That is NOT appropriate."
L is for Lick. Her main interest in baking is licking the implements involved, including anything with sugar, butter, frosting or batter. I have to restrain her from bowls with raw eggs. And a favorite snack is licking sprinkles off a plate.
M is for Mad Libs. Bless her innocent little heart if "stinky" isn't the raciest word to grace those grayish pages thus far, but she cracks up anyway. Also love how I'm surreptitiously teaching her about nouns and adjectives.
N is for No. It's like she's two again and this is her favorite word. Only now the hint of desperation is gone and it's more sort of menacing.
O is for Owies. Scrapes are more horrifying than ever, provoking floods of tears even if they require a magnifying glass to see, but can (and must) be instantly cured by a Band-Aid. Even if the Band-Aid is covering a splinter the size of a toothpick.
P is for Phineas and Ferb. Scooby-Doo, The Jetsons and Sponge Bob still rank, but nothing inspires more random, enthusiastic, out-of-context recaps than the two crafty brothers and their sister, "Kansas."
Q is for Quickly. The rate at which we are still not doing things, especially right before school and anytime we are paying for something that starts in ten minutes.
R is for Reading. Nothing warms this mom's heart faster than seeing her darling curled up in bed with a good book. So what if she still prefers the pictures? Her pronunciation is SICK.
S is for "Scratchy." As in the size 2T pink t-shirt with the koala decal (thanks, Nana and Granddad!) she still sleeps with. Every. Night. No exceptions. Not IN, Readers. With.
T is for Treats and Toys. Either or both is required to motivate her. Preferred treats: anything gummy--still. Preferred toys: anything with tiny, rubber girlie accessories--still.
U is for Under. As in "under water." Which is where--since she learned to swim this summer--she would prefer to be at all times, including those times that are dark and below 60 degrees.
V is for Vampires. She's "a good one," she tells me. One that "only drinks the blood of the emeny."
W is for Weird. Partial list of things she will eat that I won't: shrimp cocktail, guacamole, refried beans, black olives, pumpkin pie, mayonnaise, spicy salami. Things she won't TOUCH: peanut butter (??) chocolate milk (???) hot cocoa (????)
X is for XBox. Maybe this makes me sound all self-righteous, but oh well: My kid is not playing computer games, either hand-held or on the TV. See above where her brain cells are already simmered in Sponge Bob and I'm desperately clinging to the last vestiges of imaginative play where she genuinely enjoys talking to a pile of plastic figurines for an hour.
Y is for Yet. As in "not yet." The list includes tying her shoes, washing her own hair, riding a bike and procuring her two front teeth.
Z is for Zombies. No, I do not let my kid watch The Walking Dead. But she saw a picture on the cover of Entertainment Weekly and now many of our drive-time chats begin like this: "So, if zombies catch you, how do they remove your flesh? Are their nails sharp, or just their teeth? Do they also drink your blood, or just vampires? And why do their eyes have white stuff?"