I was sixteen when my baby sister, Emily was born. Twenty-five years ago a child born to a woman 40 or older was commonly referred to as a ‘change of life’ baby. Nothing simultaneously contradicts and supports the arrival of Emily more accurately. She was not the result of my mother mistakenly thinking she was in menopause and failing to take the necessary precautions. With that being said, Emily’s arrival changed our lives!!! Emily was the sun and the rest of us revolved around her.
As we doted, cooed and bounced Emily seemed bored with the entire baby stage of her life. She never crawled, choosing to just take off walking instead. She skipped baby-talk altogether, always talking plainly and used vocabulary far beyond her current developmental stage. While an articulate and often demanding toddler at home, in public she became a wide-eyed mute. She was quirky, rotten and when it came to laughs, she had impeccable timing.
Christmas the year Emily was two, my sister Kim (she was 15) and I decided to have a photograph made of us sisters as a surprise gift for mom. The photographer acted like a complete nut trying to coax a smile out of Emily. Most children would have at least giggled at his ridiculous antics. Emily remained straight-faced (her mouth was literally a straight line that never wavered) and she uttered not a word in his presence. He was growing frustrated as each of his carefully crafted antics fell to Em’s somber stance. He excused himself to get more film and just has he stepped outside the doorway Emily proclaimed loudly in her clearly enunciated un-baby-talk voice, “What a dork!” He turned around and looked back at us accusingly and Kim and I both pointed to Emily, who had instantaneously returned to her Mt. Rushmore impersonation. Needless to say our session was over and mom received a very nice photograph of two smiling teens and one very subdued tot.
Emily was like a little sponge and occasionally I used this fact for my own entertainment purposes, which usually ended up coming back and biting me squarely in the ass. As our family was eating dinner one evening, Emily started reciting a nursery rhyme and all attention shifted to her impromptu performance:
Emily: Little Miss Muffet
Inside My Head: Oh, shit.
Emily: Sat on her tuffet.
Inside My Head: Please, please, shut up.
Emily: Eating her curds and whey.
Inside My Head: Dear God, please strike her mute.
Emily: Along Came a Spider and sat down beside her and said……
Inside My Head: Dear God, please help me out. I promise to never teach the kid bad things ever again.
Emily: What’s in the bowl, Bitch
In my defense, Emily’s delivery was a million times funnier than Andrew Dice Clay’s. Unfortunately for me, the parental figures failed to see any comedic value.
Emily had no trouble creating tons of laughter at the high school student council meeting I was hosting at our house. While the council members hashed out plans for some long forgotten school event, Emily was perfecting her newly acquired potty training skills. As a family, we regularly celebrated her toileting achievements by clapping, cheering and giving her candy. Emily has always been shrewd in recognizing opportunities and the group of teens seemed like a sure thing for a multitude of positive rewards! After producing a respectable poop in her pint-sized potty-chair, she proceeded to carry the entire potty-chair into the living room and presented it with pride to the members of the student council. While trying to remove both of the little turds from the amused group of my peers, I calmly explained to Emily that it is not okay to share your poop with others. Emily turned to me matter-of-factly, stuck out her little hand and demanded, “Where is my treat?”
Early in the fall before Emily was born, I was mowing the lawn and my mom came out into the yard with tears streaming down her face. I immediately stopped what I was doing to find out what was wrong. Through her tears my mom said, “I am worried I am too old to have a baby. If something happens to me, please promise me that you will always love her and take good care of her.” A few weeks ago I received the following text message from Emily, now 24, and can find no better way to wrap up this post: