When I am teaching composition theory or running professional development workshops or teaching practica, I do a lot to get conversation going about what makes things work. The exact same activity can't always be transferred from one teacher to another, or one class to another, because the theory and practice and knowledge and assumptions that make things click in one place don't always correspond.
Turns out the same is true about family traditions. Sure, I can successfully pick up music recommended by Scrivener, or Liz (or Rob, at whose blog I lurk, and whose children have exquisite taste in music--see the sidebar). Our vacation soundtrack included several albums Liz and Scrivener suggested plus two we downloaded under the influence of Rob (one album by Justin Roberts and another by Lisa Loeb-Elizabeth Mitchell). I've had plenty of happy experiences trying out things I've seen on other people's blogs.
I should have know that last kisses don't necessarily transfer well. Nonetheless, as I was saying good night to Curious Girl tonight, I said to her, "You know, tonight is your last night to get a kiss from a 43-year-old mama. Tomorrow, you'll get kisses from a 44-year old mama." She burst into tears and threw her arms tight, tight, tight around my neck. "NO!" she kept shrieking between sobs. What had she heard? "Tonight is your last night to get a kiss from mama." Nothing else. I laid down with her on the bed and tried to talk with her. She cried. And cried. "I don't understand why this is my last kiss, Mama," she finally said. "Always more kisses for you, CG, always more," I told her. Eventually, she laughed a little among the sobs and we got ourselves eventually distracted by wondering whether we could laugh enough to float to the ceiling (note to the clearly musical-theatre-impaired Scrivener: reference to Mary Poppins there, another one of those musical things with singing and dancing).
Curious Girl then got excited about the fact that we will match tomorrow, as I will be 44 and she will be 4. But then, she'd cry again, and say, "I don't want you to be a different number." And one time, it came out, "I don't want you to change." I helped her remember how I got kisses from her when she was three, and now that she's four, I can't have three year old kisses anymore. But, she told me, she'll have kisses for me when she's five, and six, and all the way up to a million.
I remember in my yearbooks, people would write, "Don't ever change." My sleepy girl seems to wish for that, too, but I like the way I'm changing. I like that I'll be divisible by 11 next year. I like the way I'm more patient. I like the way I am learning to listen better, to listen between the words or the sobs to figure out what CG needs (and wondering why something that seems so natural to me as a mother took me so many years in therapy to learn in adult relationships, although perhaps the therapy has improved the parenting). And I just like birthdays--mine and anyone else's. So my department can get on for a day with only virtual access to me, since I'm spending my first birthday, and second day as chair, out and about. And probably no one will notice, and I'll have fun. And lots of kisses for Curious Girl.