Dear Phoebe,

Today you are 3.  Or as you would say, “FWEE.” I find it amusing that it is also Bob Marley Day, considering Three Little Birds is one of your favorite tunes.  As my co-pilot and self-appointed car DJ, I can expect the first song request before we even leave the driveway: “Mom! How ‘bout Don’t Wo-wee? You like ‘dat song, wight? Wiiiight?” As we run our errands, you serenade me in your signature Elmer Fudd from Bayonne venacular, or as we call it, Phoebenese: “MOMMMMA! Don’t WO-WEE!  About A TING! Cause every WITTLE TING! Is gonna be AL-WIGHT!”This pretty much says it all.  You don’t worry about a thing. This is why I love being with you. You refuse to take life -or me- too seriously. You make the mundane fun.  You are a lot like your dad that way.

I can’t believe it was three years ago that you came into this world…9 pounds a week early, with a pink bow suture glued to your scalp. (Seriously, Bryn Mawr Hospital?) After the pediatrician examined you for the first time he said: “Oh this is going to be a nice mellow one.” To which I replied, “THANK GOD.”However I am not sure “mellow” is the word I would use to describe you…in fact, I am pretty sure there is not a whole lot of “mellow” in our collective gene pool.  Playful, whimsical, independent, uncomplicated…these words come a little closer to describing you.  The name Phoebe means “light,” and that is what you are: a pure, unadulterated ray of light.

You declare everyday a “sunny day.” The world is your playground, and the chance to experience it through your eyes is to be a kid again…or perhaps even for the first time.  “Whas ‘dat?  How ‘bout ‘dat?  Whatcha doin?”  Whatcha eatin’?  C’an I have some?  MMMMM!  ‘DAS GOOD!”  Life is one exciting opportunity after another, and YOU WANT IN. You interact with the world in a way that is so uniquely…you.  We drive down the same tree-lined street everyday, yet each time you make it a new adventure: “MOM!  Dis is a spooky forwest!  Oh wook!  Dats a cwockodile!  Is OK, he not scawey, he just HUNGWY!  He want a HAM-BOOGER!  MOM! YOU GOT A HAM-BOOGER?” And God help me if I don’t fish an imaginary “hambooger” out of my purse and hand it to the hungry crocodile…because we are having fun here, dammit. So y’all better get on board.

When you get tired, you don’t cranky. No, no.  You get a little crazy, like The Joker on Pixie Sticks.  This makes you impossible to punish- in part because you keep making us laugh- but mostly because you JUST DON’T CARE.  We tried putting you in Time-Out; you laid on the steps and sang Katy Perry.  We tried putting you in your crib for 5 minutes, but when I went up to get you, you smiled and said: “Momma!  I so happy to SEE YOU!  How you DOIN’?!”

I was reluctant to mention Emma in this letter, because I know as the second child you are always in some indirect way being compared to your older sister.  But it dawned on me that this letter would not be complete without her, considering you have never known a world without “Your Emma” in it.  When I go to get you from your crib each morning, the first words out of your mouth are: “Where’s Emma? Whas Emma doin’?  EMMA!  WHATCHA DOIN?”

But while you are fascinated by her, you are not going to let her (or anyone, for that matter) push you around.  Not even for a second.  I know you are ready to blow a gasket when you can’t get the words out and your speech sounds like a studio remix of Run DMC: “EMMA! What-a-what-a-what-a-what-a-what-a DOIN’ wit my BAWBIE DOLL!?”

So, sure, Emma might drive you nuts sometimes, but like a true Leo, you are fiercely loyal.  At Emma’s school concert, you made your presence known by running up to the stage, pointing, and shouting, “DAT’S MY SISTA!” God help the Mean Girl who ever gives your sister the stink eye, because you will claw that Queen Bee’s eyes out South Philly style.  (Don’t repeat this, but I think you get that from Nana me).I have no doubt in your ability to hold your own. You, my dear, are a tough cookie. I have seen you face-skid across the pavement, catch your fingers in a door, and do a triple gainer down the basement stairs without shedding a tear. You had Shingles for crying out loud, and all you said during your week long quarantine was : “Hey Momma, ‘dis booboo kinda hurts.  But just a wittle bit.”

You are determined and fearless, but most of all, resilient.  You pick yourself up.  You move on. You jump in. Thanks for teaching me that life is too short to worry about the past..not when there is so much good stuff going on right this minute.

Happy Birthday Baby.


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