On the eve of 13. (Day 23, Year 2)

Tomorrow, my middle child, my youngest daughter, my little Coco, turns 13 years old. 

It truly feels like just yesterday she was running around in a sundress and her Minnie Mouse shoes (the only shoes she would wear for years), holding her little puppy with the little black nose and an old lady beaded handbag filled with stolen lipsticks and a mirror, of course, to check her robustly applied makeup. 

Today, she expertly wanded on mascara and asked me if her eye shadow looked okay (It did. It was perfect and not robust like the lipsticks of her toddlerhood). 

We've been through this transition to teen-hold before with our oldest; but if I've learned one thing it is that I know nothing about anything. Each of my kids are truly unique, with overlapping traits and tendencies that mix up in different ways and require specialized parenting. There is no "one-size-fits-all" approach that is effective or advisable when parentings. These kids give us a run for it and I don't think I'd have it any other way. 

From Chloe's early days, which were 9 weeks too early in the NICU, Chloe has exhibited the type of leadership skills that are inspiring and theatrical. I often tell the story of the 3 days she spent destating on her monitor, for no apparent medical reason. A nurse suctioned out her nose and found a giant booger--and Chloe instantly stopped with the theatrics on the monitor. 

She was just unhappy, not sick and she made sure we knew. Chloe is always one to listen to and follow. 

She hasn't been handed the easiest way as the sibling to a sister who battled cancer. This is scary for her, too. I know she lives with fears that I can imagine, as a mother and a sister, myself, but at the same time are unique to her journey. When Lily's shunt failed for the second time in June, Chloe stayed the evening with our amazing neighbors. She called me and demanded, in her little raspy Bea Arthor voice, to know every single thing the doctor said about every single scan and every single test. She wanted the plan, the timeline and she was not hanging up without that information. 

Chloe is the kind of sister you trust with your life. 

The next day, Chloe came home and took charge cleaning her room and the rest of the house, so it was ready for her "Lou-Lou," the name she calls Lily. 

Nicknames are traditions in this house, as are so many other things. Chloe is the keeper of our traditions. The one who remembers the thanksgiving puppet shows and the leprechaun traps and the menus for every holiday and special napkins and decorations. Traditions are so important to her--this is how she shows her love for her siblings and us, by remembering and savoring the time we have together. 

So tomorrow, Chloe will receive the traditional "Official Teenager" crown and sash. She'll have a special breakfast of her choice (homemade bluebery muffins) and presents before school. The birthday sign will hang on the dining room wall and we'll all wipe the sleepies from our eyes, as we hand her the gifts we lovingly picked out. She'll have her party later this week; with a very fabulous cake and very special favors for her guests, as per her instructions. 

And when it is all done, Chloe will thank each of us a thousand times and say what she always says, "I love you, Mommy. You are the best Mommy."

You are, too Coco. I love you a million times infinity. Happy Birthday, sweet girl.