Ramblings of a Cathy
The Best Part is We'll Be Together, and We'll Be Friends Forever
Since Aimee was big enough to hold upright, I had been pointing things out to her in the world. I watched fascinatedly as she touched leaves, squinted at the stars, pointed at each tree that we drove or walked past. Mostly, however, it's been flowers. I would challenge her to pick out the colors of the petals, distinguish between different flower types - although truthfully in our part of Florida there isn't a wide variety of natural organic flowers, but I would try to mindfully point out all the eccentricities of the flowers we'd see in our walks around the neighborhood. I even recall one walk where I made a game out of her toddler-running over to some weeds and picking them out before I counted to a certain number.
She was always so enthusiastic in playing.
For her 4th birthday I bought her these really nice sandals at Target, Little white straps lined the toes area, with a nice single strap behind her heel, and a big white flower on top. When she saw it, her eyes lit up and she beamed. Her awe seamlessly transformed to determination in putting them on, with a cute fluffy white dress I got her and a gold little tiara. She paired it with a blue-collar Chiq little overcoat that made her look elegant.
That was the birthday that I decided to make it a surprise party. (She had reacted in awe of a surprise party she had been a witness of, so I knew we HAD to do this). I had her stay with Steve and Jason - who were playing videogames - while I not-so-subtly drove to my dad's house. While my sisters and their guys hung out around my dad's house, I was putting up a silly amount of decorations in the livingroom. The more I put up, the more people's interests piqued in watching me set it up - the more people started helping me with shit.
Pretty soon I had the cake out - a pink cake with Minnie Mouse on it, made by some really mean Dominican lady in a small shop - and I was enthusiastically telling my family to hide when I saw Steven's headlights outside Papi's livingroom window.
I had to catch my breath as I turned the lights off, while everyone mildly amusedly sat around the table - feeding off the dumb excitement I had exuded at the plan.
As soon as the door opened I turned the lights on, everyone said "SURPRISE!!" , and Aimee was standing behind her father - who looked tired.
People sang, and Aimee beamed shyly at everyone. I felt accomplished, and for the few nice moments that this feeling usually instills, my thoughts aren't so loud - my inner thoughts weren't so mean.
My uncle had been there, probably coincidentally but he'll always tout about how he showed up for Aimee's birthday party. LOL
Right after the singing happened, and I was cutting pieces of cake, I notice my Uncle walk up to Aimee. "Aimee you look beautiful!" He said this endearingly in his warm Dominican accent.
Aimee smiled at him with the same shy polite beam she gives everyone. "Thank you!" She says automatically, like if he had just mentioned that the sky was blue.
Without a beat he looks down at her shoes and makes an exxagerated Hispanic sound of approval. "And I like your shoes!"
Her amusement was only betrayed by the fact that she looked down at them, then she looked right in his eyes again.
"Thank you. It has a flower on it. My mommy likes flowers."
That made me stop cutting cake and look down at her, then at my Uncle - who was already making to turn the conversation back to me. He asked me something, but I didn't hear it. I just watched Aimee walk back to her grandpa.
My Uncle looked at me worried (probably for my mental health) as I absentmindedly smiled at him. I felt my chest tickle, my mind blank. As a mental health counselor in South Florida I like to think that there isn't much that surprises me about people. But Aimee... she always surprises me. I grinned at this.
My uncle has made the face of someone that's trying politely to back away from someone. So I laugh, "She says Mommy likes flowers. I thought she liked flowers...."
He made an uncomfortable laugh and I just asked him about something else.
But that whole thing completely, and utterly, moves me to this day. How I never really did know I liked flowers until Aimee observed it.
How what I think is my attempts at inspiring her are only things that she inspires in me.