Birthday Girl

One of the best things about having and raising kids—in addition to having someone on whom to pin all your unrealized hopes and dreams, and having someone to keep you humble by barfing at inopportune times and providing unfiltered commentary on your clothing and hairstyle —is having someone you can embarrass on a daily basis without the threat of legal action. And so, having written candidly about our son when he turned 27 last month, I am now going to shift the spotlight to our daughter, who turns 22 today.

Princess Primrose was born in Minneapolis in 1992 and soon distinguished herself as being completely different from her brother in two key ways. First, whereas El Noble spent the first week of his life in the arms of his parents and other family members after having arrived in this world in perfect health and as the first grandchild on all three sides of the family, the Princess spent the first week of her life in NICU after nearly 36 hours of labor and having drawn her first breaths with the assistance of medical intervention.

Horsey Sam

Second, whereas her brother was social and restless, and needed to be rocked to sleep because he could not stand to be alone and awake at the same time, the Princess was more introverted—for lack of a better term—and not only could be placed in her crib to fall asleep at her leisure but also could fall asleep at the drop of a hat just about anywhere. Perhaps it’s because she spent the first few days of life in a bassinette on Phenobarbital and, therefore, didn’t have the expectation of being held and sung to at bedtime that she wasn’t picky about how or when she slept, but that quality carried over well into childhood and manifested itself in several interesting situations.

Chair SamPotty Sam  Table SamCounter SamCouch SamPumpkin SamMighty SamSqueaker Sam

Although the Princess prefers arts and letters over sports and other physical activities, like El Noble, she has managed to scare me half to death on a number of occasions. In fact, excluding the complications surrounding her birth, the Princess has caused me to fear for her life probably twice as often as her adrenaline junkie brother. For example, shortly after she learned to walk, she devised a game in which she would open the front door and go outside. Eventually—that is, upon realizing that her actions were a source of distress for me and a precursor to discipline for her—she stopped merely ‘going’ outside and started ‘running.’

Even after the Jarhead placed a lock at the top of the door that she could not reach even with the assistance of a chair, the problem was not resolved. Instead, she would wait until we had our guard down—that is, just before we were about to leave the house or just after we returned—and then fling the door open and bolt down the front walk. She rarely got very far thanks to her intense joy at having escaped, which would cause her to giggle uncontrollably, lose forward momentum, and start running in place.

Sweater Sam

At one point she managed to do this just as she, I, and her brother returned from the grocery store. It was early evening—dusk—when everyone and their dog seemed to be driving past our house, which sat on a curve. As she bolted down the walk in the dwindling daylight, I had a choice to make: Chase after her and hope to catch her before she got to the street, or stop chasing and hope she stopped running. As luck would have it I guessed wrong. Although I did stop chasing her, she did not stop running. And as I watched her—convinced she was about to be killed by an oncoming car whose driver would not have seen her thanks not only to the darkness and the curve in the road, but also to the two huge spruce trees that stood at the end of our walk—I could only hope fate would intervene. Happily it did, and just as my calculations had me imagining her in the hospital in a permanent coma, she suddenly hung a left and ran up the sidewalk instead of between the spruces and out onto the roadway.

Tree Sam

It was a miracle I didn’t kill her for that. By the time I got to her—having continued toward her at a comparatively leisurely pace since it was a body I was expecting to catch up to—she was running in place again and facing me with an expression of pure ecstasy—I could hardly speak, much less punish her. And it wasn’t just my relief that prevented me from pounding the life out of her. It was also pride. Because like any parent, I enjoy my children’s victories and, although I didn’t know it then, that escape was the closest I would ever get to seeing her score a goal, get on base, or slide into home.


In addition to nearly killing herself by leaving the house and running into the street, the Princess has almost done so by other means. These include but are not limited to drinking perfume samples from the bottom of my purse, tasting wild mushrooms, and finding and eating unknown candy-like objects from a MacDonald’s bathroom floor. She has also nearly committed suicide by anaphylaxis, after deciding to play in the woods with her friend Nichole and using poison oak to apply pretend make up and to toss a pretend salad. Needless to say, we are well acquainted with 911, poison control, and prednisone.

7th Grade Sam

Back in the day, Roseanne Barr used to say that if her kids were still alive at the end of the day, she had done her job. Since the Princess is still alive after more than 8000 days, it’s safe to say I’ve done mine and then some.

Happy Birthday, Princess. And here’s to 25,000 more.


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