Springtime in Nashville is so beautiful it'll about break your heart. It makes perfect sense that my feisty, tender, gorgeous, much-loved firstborn came to me in the spring. This pint-sized force of nature continues to prove to me that even when it seems unlikely, when the days with her are dark as night, she will burst into bloom and dazzle me once again.
One morning last fall, while Livvy napped upstairs, Tessa and I planted tulip and daffodil bulbs along our front walk. I told her that they'd bloom by her birthday. As I watched the squirrels unearth our bulbs and hurry off with them, as the ground seized up with frost, I wondered if that could really be true. Over the winter, we weathered our most difficult period with Tessa yet. It's something I've tried to write about here, but I haven't been able to and I'm going to stop trying. It's part of the reason this blog has gone all but dormant. Let's just say: we wanted our money back. We wanted to take her back to from where she came, we wanted to stand there and shake our fists and demand our money back. That, it turns out, is not really an option as a parent. For a while there, my little girl felt like such a stranger to me that I was almost spooked. While she struggled through a behavioral issue, Nekos and I held on to one another. We cheers'ed to "Team Barnes" and found some strength someplace. Because we didn't have a clue what to do to help her other than to love her, we put away our attempts at disciplining her for a while and instead dumped a whole bunch of extra tenderness and understanding on her. She responded beautifully. It's true what they say about phases, which is that they pass. Whatever it was Tessa was going through--it vanished as quickly as it came.
We had Tessa's fourth birthday party at our house a couple of weeks ago. There was a breeze on that sunny day and it rustled through all the Disney princess crap we'd strung up above the back porch. Her new Disney princess bicycle with the glittery handlebar streamers was parked in the lawn. Ten little girls came over for maraschino cherry cake and coloring and dress-up. And Cheetos. Tessa loves Cheetos on her birthday. Out front, the tulips and daffodils bloomed, big and bright.