We got the kids’ school pictures back.

Here is the group shot of the fourth grade class.

Guess which one’s mine.

Yep, that’s his I Heart Bacon T-shirt. In my defense, school pictures were on a Wednesday this year and I’m on a bus for work by 6:20am on Wednesdays. {Bus? Did someone say bus? I’m pretty sure I just threw my husband under it.}

I told CC that if we wanted #5 to wear a decent shirt for school pictures next year, he would have to be the adult here because I already blew it. I couldn’t keep a straight face when I pulled this out of the envelope.

What’s your favorite school picture story?

Something Unsettling Has Happened

Four and a half years ago when they came to live with us, #4 looked like this:

Little, messy, cute. You can also see her in my header picture above: I’m in the Mustang with #3, #4 and #5. She’s wearing the same shirt and I’m not entirely convinced the pictures were taken the same day. I think she wore that shirt all week.

This week I turned around and saw this (and, of course, snapped a picture):

Umm, yeah.

Kids grow up. I get it. I’ve seen it happen and every parent seems shocked when it happens to their kids. But here’s the thing: I’ve watched her four siblings change too, and that didn’t surprise me.

#5 is exactly like his Dad. They both value making people laugh, bacon, and boobies. Every change in #5 brings him closer to that.

From the very beginning I could see the spark of who the three oldest girls were becoming. The opposite of an afterimage. I merely stood by and witnessed. Cool, yes, definitely. An honor.

But not exactly surprising. More like watching an image coming into focus, like on a Polaroid. You know it’s coming and it’s fun to watch the edges sharpen, the color blossom, the picture become clear.

Maybe it had to do with their ages when they came to us. Maybe it’s more about this one being the most ethereal. The one most likely to be taken by elves.

But this one, this #4.

I didn’t see it coming. Caught me totally off guard.

She had a choir concert this week, that’s the reason for the dress. I was putting her to bed that night and I told her how pretty and grown up she looked. She said, “I know, it’s crazy, right?” She then proceeded to tell me not to worry, that I would only see her dressed that way for 5th grade promotion (in a couple weeks), 8th grade promotion, her prom, and high school graduation.

I’m glad she stopped there. That was all a bit much for me. She doesn’t even wear a bra yet.

Oh, thank god. She’s still in there.

A Little More About #4

Don't be fooled.

My current favorites: #4 and Casey.

To anyone reading this who lives in my house: I am fickle regarding my favorites, and easily bought off with brownies. Homemade, no icing.

We’re coming up on #4’s fifth grade promotion. She started first grade when the kids came to live with us, so she’s the only one who has completed all grades (minus kindergarten) in the same elementary school.

I remember dropping her off at the school’s blacktop those first few weeks. I held #5 in my arms, watching while #3 and #2 ran off to their brand-new friends, but #4 lined up for class and just stood there crying without sound. It ripped my heart out and I couldn’t fix it. It lasted a few weeks; she quickly became our most social kid, much more interested in hanging out with her friends than in anything related to school, or responsibility.

She often balks at doing her chores when there’s a babysitter on. One night when she was in first grade, the sitter gave her the option: she could either do her chores or go to bed early. As in right now: two full hours before bedtime.

#4 gladly opted to go to bed.

In second grade, her class was assigned a biography project. It was supposed to be a big (relative to the second grade) research thing, culminating in a posterboard and a presentation where each student dressed as their subject. #4’s subject was Hillary Clinton, revealing a deep, subconscious need to piss her father off.

We didn’t know anything about the project, despite all of the notices regarding deadlines that were apparently sent home with her. Our first awareness of it came when we received a call from her teacher.

Teacher: The deadline for the biography project is rapidly approaching and she hasn’t turned in any of her materials.

Us: Uh, what biography project?

We had a talk with her that night. Found out she hadn’t even read the book yet. We asked her why she hadn’t done any of the work, why she hid the project from us.

#4: I didn’t feel like doing it.

Discounting her lies of omission, she is probably our most honest kid.

In the morning she doesn’t want to get up, is slow to get moving, can’t find anything to wear because it’s all wadded up on the floor of her closet or else in her bed, and finds any number of distractions as she is supposedly getting ready for school, many of which end with her forgetting homework or some other essential item for school, like pants. This is only on school mornings. Weekends she’s up before 7am. Yet as much as she complains about school, she practically runs there every day.

She can’t have nice things.  She desperately wanted Uggs for about two years, not hung up on the name but fixated instead on how very comfy they are. Uggs are stupidly expensive, so I got her a slightly less expensive knockoff for Christmas in her favorite color. She was in love. But before Christmas vacation was over, she had projectile vomited on their lovely, untreated purple suede. From the top bunk.

She loses her shoes. What I mean by this is she will lose one of a pair, permanently, and this has happened more than once.

Any new pants she gets are immediately ripped; new shirts are instantly stained.

#3 got a pink Abercrombie sweatshirt once that she literally loved to pieces. Finally, it was so torn and stained that we had to throw it away.

#4 showed up wearing it a week later, expressing her belief that anything in the trash is fair game, and everything is appropriate to wear to school.

CC has said to her at the dinner table on numerous occasions, “You look homeless.”

Here’s the thing: In nearly every way, #4 is exactly like me. Exactly. I was like that as a kid and I haven’t changed all that much. How is it possible that this child, who shares none of my genes, has all of my train wreck characteristics? She didn’t learn them from me, she came with them. When we met, that chaotic, disorganized part of my soul that hates following through on anything and has a hard time finding a matching pair of socks looked out at her in recognition and said, Oh, hey! There’s two of us? Oh, dear. 

#4 was being given a hard time at dinner tonight by #3 because she lost a headband that was loaned to her. Her defense?

#4: Don’t loan me things. It ends bad. (Looks up from plate) What? I speak the truth.

I know, sweetie. I know.