Monday, April 23, 2012


Dear Zoey,

The next day you were 6.
Which is how it happens, I know. Not surprising or terribly complicated, but unbelievable all the same. You are 6. April 24, 2012. 1234567891011121314151617, you count up to anything now, 6 not even a catch-your-breath number to take pause. Numbers a game played with in tangerine cuties. What's 10 minus 4, you say, only I am not supposed to know the answer as you arrange the cuties on the table. 6, you say, triumphant, a little boastful even as you pretend to juggle though you close your eyes to catch. The next day you eat bruised tangerines for lunch.
The last photo of 5.
6 has brought swagger, and if I could bottle that swagger, I would. Spoon a bit of swagger to you each night before bed as preventative medicine, doubling the dosage in a few years. You wear glitter with stripes, zebra print, rainbow, shorts over pants because it is your "signature look." I admit, there are days when I try to talk you out of wearing your bathrobe belt as a scarf, though I know I should stop. Let you own yourself. Celebrate your spirit because soon enough there will be people who try to crush it, or at the very least poke at it with toothpicks. I will do everything in my power not to let them, but even more importantly, I will not let myself be one of them.

You found an old Ice Cube CD the other night and put it on your karaoke machine. Said that you knew it had the bad f word, but you wanted to dance to it. So you did. So you did.

The next night you asked me if I knew what the b word was. I cocked my head, curious, but you told me it was bunny.

6. Caught between bunny and fuck when all you want to do is dance. Look at yourself in the reflection of the window as you pop your head and arms and jump, feeling bad-ass krumping in a Rapunzel shirt.

When I grow up I want to be just like you.

You are magic, Zoey, your huge hazel eyes fringed with impossibly long eyelashes and I see you watching the world around you, amused. And I see the world watching right back, entranced with the girl who feels bad for the trees when we make her eat salad, who calls her brother baby potato and still thinks it's pronounced earthquick.

And so I will put you to bed tomorrow night, your first day of 6, after telling you the story of when you were born. How they pulled you out of me, a pressure released, how I looked at you and fell smack hard deeply in love with breathing, turned my head and puked, and then turned back to stare into those big, big eyes. And I will tell you again that when they pulled you out of me slick, your tiny baby fingers tore a piece of my heart and took it with you, how no matter where you are, no matter how old or how far, you will always have a piece of me, my sweet, sweet girl. My Zo.

Happy birthday.

Apparently I was too cranky to write 5. But here's 4. 3. 2. (1 was before I started the blog.)


sweetbittertart said...

Oh my. Such a beautiful post. Happy birthday to little (okay maybe not so little) Z. xo

p.s. "Caught between bunny and the bad f word" is quite possibly the most awesome thing I've ever read.

Zakary said...

I love this. I adore it. The dancing? CHRIST.

Happy Birthday, Zoey. You are magic.

(Also, I can't believe she is 6.)

Anonymous said...

So lovely. Thank you, again, for putting into words what I want to say to my 6 year old girl.
When she was a baby/toddler I just wanted to snuggle her. Now I find myself watching her more...wondering how her little brain is working, curious about what she's thinking.

Chelsea said...

Happy birthday, Zoey!

Susannah, you are a wonderful writer and even better mother. I sincerely hope to learn a thing or two from you for when I'm a mother (in the very distant future).

Much love to you and yours!

Anonymous said...

I have heard Apache song that sings as you write.



anita said...

I can't decide which is more beautiful, Zoey herself or your writing.

krista said...

killing me. seriously.
i also just went and re-read all of the older birthday posts and now i'm a mess.
i did, however, watch the video in between each one ot keep my spirits up.

Nancy Fastenau, Fastenau and Associates said...

Love the swagger, love the love. You are such a great Mom with such great kids. I am happy you all are in my family.

Tamara said...

Dammit. Now I have mascara on my shirt.

Happy Birthday to Zoe!

Tamara said...

Dammit. Now I have mascara on my shirt.

Happy Birthday to Zoe!

The French Tangerine said...

ok so excited I found your blog. I'm basically obsessed. I've added you to my blogroll for easy access and have read back pretty far. I literally am dying over the marijuana candy episode.. because you totally remind me of me, except I'm too scared to cuss on my blog because I think I have a lot of older followers, like grandma age. And that incident totally could've happened to me with my retarded brothers. (whom I love dearly..) And I love that you taped your baby and called him a paraplegic.. also very funny and a little brave.
Your newest reader,

The French Tangerine said...

PS Zoey is really precious with those ginormous eyes!