Monday, March 9, 2015



         Close to nineteen months ago, on a hot August day, Kiley underwent a profound metamorphosis. She had spent the first nineteen months of her life as an only child, a unique object of affection and, you could even say, adoration. That's not to say that she was spoiled or pampered in any way. Adoration aside, her mother is a very down to earth no nonsense type who doesn't allow her motherly devotion to interfere with her motherly duties. Raising children is a delicate balance between the overwhelming love we feel for our offspring and the overwhelming sense of responsibility we feel for their proper upbringing. Some people, understandably, have difficulty balancing the two, and depending on which way the scale tips can either over or under indulge their children, resulting in either spoiling them on the one hand or impeding their ability to form a healthy sense of self esteem on the other. Kiley's mother has no such difficulty. The ability to strike that delicate balance seems to come naturally to her and is a testament to her own upbringing (in which I played a small part.) But getting back to the point, at nineteen months of age, Kiley stopped being an only child and transformed into that most extraordinary and mysterious of earthly creatures, the "sister". In other words, in August of 2013, through the benevolent efforts of her parents, McKinley Renae was born, otherwise known as "Mackey".

As my husband is fond of saying, Mackey is a "funny little squib". At nineteen months of age she is exhibiting her individual personality, and I think everyone who knows her would agree she's a regular pistol. She is showing a real sense of humor, which is unusual for someone who is just learning to talk. She actually makes jokes from time to time. It's unbelievable. Granted, they are primitive attempts at humor, being fashioned by someone with about a twenty-word vocabulary and a limited understanding of the world, and they primarily consist of unusual or ridiculous responses to questions or statements, but they are obviously intended to elicit laughter from her "audience". Saying, "yes" instead of an appropriate "no", for instance, is apparently the height of humor to her and though we don't always get the point, she does and thinks it's hilarious. She is always laughing.

She has a way of looking at people out of the corner of her eye with a sly kind of expression that my husband finds adorable. "What are you looking at?" he'll say, and she'll reply with a knowing smile. She's kind of "rough and tumble" and has a swagger in her walk. She's presents a tough exterior to the world but underneath she's a drama queen. When she gets a little boo-boo it's like the end of the world- oh, the wailing! - the tears! - the burying of her face in your neck! Calming her down takes forever and usually requires some kind of distraction.

She is an accomplished dancer, especially when dancing to the "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Song" which we have on a disc. Unfortunately, she only wants to dance to the first three stanzas. Once they sing "Forever let us hold our banners high, high, high, high" and she has raised her right fist and shouted "high" along with them, she insists that we start it over at the beginning. After starting it over for the thousandth time, that gets old. "Just let it play, Mackey!" But she is like that. She likes certain things and certain specific parts of things. Her favorite movie is "Lilo And Stitch" which she has to watch every morning on a portable DVD player while she eats her breakfast. But once more, she wants to watch her favorite part of the movie over and over and over again, the part in the very beginning where the little girls are dancing while the credits roll.  Unfortunately, she can't operate the machine herself and I am busy at breakfast time so her stubborn insistence can cause a situation. "Just let it play, Mackey!"  Kiley can operate the machine, however, so she is a big help in these situations. Having a tech savvy three-year-old in the house can be a Godsend.

Toddlers go through "phases" where they latch onto new experiences and stick with those new behaviors and activities for a time before moving on to something else. Mackey's latest idiosyncrasy is "whispering". She will come up and whisper to you in a confidential way as if imparting some kind of deep secret. There are no actual words involved, just a whispering sound and a secretive air. You are required to whisper back, of course, and she always let's you know that she understands what has been exchanged by giving a quick nod or whispered " 'kay" before moving on to some other activity. She has also become fond of pushing her baby doll around in a play stroller, endlessly. Through the family room, through the kitchen, all around the house Mackey and her baby are going for a walk. And the doll looks like her - a Cabbage Patch with a chubby face and short, curly, blonde hair. Mackey is a good mother.

Mackey is a good baby too. She loves to eat and loves to laugh. She likes Daisy Duck. She likes dancing, hiding, and playing with flashlights. She loves Mister Pickles and building forts. She burps as loud as she can whenever possible. She is smart, sweet, funny, and affectionate. She is tough and teary, a cut-up and a cuddler, half little sweetie and half linebacker. She is both a worthy opponent and loving little sister to Kiley, and a tender little treasure and brutish little bandit to me. Having her with us for the past year and a half has lit up our lives, melted our hearts, and filled our home with warmth and laughter. She is a cherished and beloved addition to our daily lives. How were we ever happy without her?


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