My daughter is as bubbly as fresh ginger ale. Her resting face is a smile. Her goal on any given day is to make everybody laugh and smile. She gains energy from people the way Superman is strengthened by the sun.
She is my flip side. I have to remind myself that the muscles in my face actually make a smile. My resting face is...mean, or so I have been told. Don't get me wrong, I can tell a good joke and I am known for being fun...when the situation calls for it. I liken myself to an old fashion back-yard water spout. I have to be primed - mentally pumped before I can let the good times roll.
Noelle is sunshine. I am moonlight. I like the quiet and gain my strength in solitude and isolation. I am a thinker...to a fault. She is clearly a doer much to my occasional dismay. Her progress reports are beginning to reflect her love for laughter. She is frequently reprimanded for spreading her highly contagious sense of fun. When I was in the 3rd grade I got reprimanded for daydreaming and taking my shoes off.
Still, Noelle carries a little of me in her ways. She is a born story-teller. She came out of the womb speaking in complete sentences. Her verbosity made her a bit of a side show attraction until she was about 3 years old. I try to channel her verbal energy by encouraging her to write, but talking remains her favorite mode of communication. I miss her knock knock jokes. The punch lines were at least two minutes long.
Noelle is instinctively an optimist. She believes that every moment in life brings you something different. She loves the newness in each day while I crave routine and steadfastness. She has a way of reminding me that nothing is truly boring with the right perspective.
She talks. And talks. And talks some more, while I am silent for most of my day.
Like me, Noelle loves books. Not just to read, but as objects to collect and admire. Like me, she also loves music. Pop Music. Her brother calls her a 'Swifty' because she likes Taylor Swift. When I was her age I was listening to Ella Fitzgerald, the Beatles. I loved the music of the day like Rappers Delight and Heatwave. But I sought out what was different. We find common ground in Adele and John Legend.
For about a year, Noelle only made funny faces when we took family pictures. It made me wonder if she was more uncertain about her looks than I suspected. We had the "hair conversation" over a year ago. I was doing her hair at the bathroom mirror and she said she wished her hair was "like this" and stretched one of her curls straight.
"Why?" I replied. "You have beautiful hair." I told her about the hundreds of websites and blogs dedicated to teaching women how to get hair just like hers. I also reminded her that she had hair, "Just like mommy." Now she loves to wear her hair wild and free. Which is appropriate because she is indeed wild and free.
I am concerned that Noelle defaults to 'funny girl' when she is feeling shy or insecure. She likes to dance, but when people are watching she morphs herself into spindly goofiness. We laugh, because it looks hysterical, but I don't want her to hide her talent the way I did growing up. I realize there is a thin line between projecting your own issues onto your children and guiding them into self assuredness.
I want Noelle to be funny because she is funny, not because she thinks, "Funny is all I got."
Noelle is the other side of me. Sunshine to my moonlight. Happiness to my melancholy. I want her to always be authentically happy.
She wants the same for me. I know because she told me so.