Dear Kyre Grace,
I recently just told your dad, “how do we have a 9-year-old”? It doesn’t seem possible. Just like a true middle child your life is sandwiched in between older siblings that are pioneering their way through the world as we learn with them and you have the babies who are in the sweet years of being the benefactors of less stressed out parental units. Then there you are, quiet in the background, rarely demanding of our attention and only forceable make your presence known when you have had enough with being looked past because they are being louder or asking more of us.
My favorite memory of you this year was when I had to call you back from one of your first playdates since Covid came crashing in. I was at home with the babies and had gone to take the garbage out and was met with one of our hens standing at our door looking inside our home. I immediately called your father who had just gone back to work from lunch and couldn’t break away to help me. Without hesitating, I knew I could call you. You know that animals are not my jam, I don’t willingly let them in my space, it’s a choice for me. You however are not afraid of God’s creatures and never withhold affection to them. They intrigue you; you study them. You came running down the hill from your friend’s house and immediately scooped up the naughty bird and put her back where she belonged.
How could I forget the time you decided to sit as still as possible and allow a squirrel to come and grab food out of your hand at one of our summer beach dinners. Your obnoxious older brother tried to do the same thing and found himself with a little nibble on his hand. The squirrel knew who it could trust, YOU.
I was looking at your baby pictures, because that’s what a tired exhausted mom of 5 does, when she realizes that yet another child of hers is older and bigger than she can accept in the moment. It’s one of my favorites of us. You were around 2 months old and you were fast asleep on my chest. But what most eyes would glance over, mine did not. There your little fist is tight on the neck of my sweater. I should have known that would describe your need for me. You needed more then any other baby. Being separated from me, even in our home, in the arms of another person what something you couldn’t handle. Your dad and I just recalled how when he would reach out to you, to finally give me a break, you would tuck your arms in and bury your face.
When you reach your breaking point and start demanding for attention and love in the least inviting ways, it’s because you are craving intimacy and it’s not happening. You have an intimacy tank that I am not sure is always met, if I am honest, it’s really high. Quality time is absolutely one of your love languages.
The best hugger hands down in the family. We are always squeezed harder than we expect and when humans can’t give you the connection you so deeply desire, animals always fill the void. Candy may be Ezzy’s dog, but really, we all know who she really belongs to.
I am sad that Covid has altered yet another birthday in our family. But really for you. Because you are the only Harney that can rely on your birthday falling on a school day. Everyone else has holiday or summer birthdays. We have always tried to make school a place to celebrate and not get lost in the crowd, all about you and no siblings to steal the show. Yet today, here you are, pulled from school because the cases in our small community are too high and your older sister is sick.
So, what have you done? Found a way to deep down inside and be thankful for what you have. Magically I was able to find you a red velvet cake mix at Walmart per your request, we all have presents to watch you unwrap and last night you focused on the fact that you get to spend today with close family friends who have decided to take measures to be in our bubble and you haven’t let us know you are disappointed in things looking different.
I do believe that we will look back on 2020 and wonder how we all stayed sane and if we are not careful, only focus on the things that didn’t go well. But if I just take a few minutes, I can think about all the fun that I got to make this year different with you. Because you didn’t get lost in the chaos of the family. Covid gave us more family time then we knew what to do with it. We stayed up late playing ticket to ride with you and laughing when you would forget what track you were trying to accomplish, watched old Disney movies with you, your favorites always had to do with dogs, we baked apple crisp thanks to your assembly line, painted nails have been your signature look, beach dinners were always your request and we did our absolute best keeping up with you on all our hikes, you have always been a mountain goat.
I am sad that Covid didn’t allow you to be surrounded by your classmates or have a party, but Kyrene Grace Harney. If we were all honest with ourselves about what you really desire: it’s intimacy. So, a big party, a classroom full of kids singing “happy birthday” would have been special, but I know you my girl and all you want is our full attention as we watch you blow out your candles tonight!
Happy birthday my 9 year old
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” –Anatole France
“Animals are such agreeable friends—they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.” –George Elio