Most people claim their niece/nephew/baby cousin etc. are the cutest, most extraordinary babies in the world. I am now one of those people. Zoe Sally Theobald is truly the most incredible living thing ever. I think she is so fascinating to me because she is the first and only baby I have ever really been around since I was a baby myself (and a darn ugly one, according to Grandma Edith). I mean, I am watching this little, like, thing develop into, like, a person, and it’s just mind-boggling. I am also fairly certain that my love for her has grown since losing my father. I don’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings by saying this, but I honestly don’t think I could have gotten through it (and I am still going through it, obviously) without her. Her enormous blue eyes and sweet little voice have kept me as sane as possible, and concentrating on her helps to dull the sadness.
That said, here is my own little list of Zoe activities for the past 3 years.
1. She reminds me of what is important in life.
Zoe keeps me completely grounded (whatever that means, celebrities say it in interviews all the time). When I see her I pretty much lose interest in any and all bullsh!t happening around me, because how can one worry about who’s not talking to whom and who said what about whom when a tiny little twerp of a girl is singing Lady GaGa (“Bad Romance” is her favorite) at the top of her lungs right in front of you? The same goes for when I am with Zoe, my sister, and my mom. It just feels better when we are all together.
2. She reminds me of me.
Based on my earliest memories as well as stories about me myself and I, I can say without hesitation that little miss Zoe Sally acts frighteningly like her loving aunt did at ages 0-3. She is aggressive in her opinions in the best possible way, she is extremely into fashion (the choice of which leggings with which dress is an everyday dilemma), she is slightly spoiled, she doesn’t let anyone mess with her hair (“my hair! no!”), and she is quite fond of telling others what to do. She has this great hand motion when she wants you to stop doing something (as evidenced in accompanying photo).
3. She watches Buffy.
Zoe has always watched whatever Mommy and Daddy watch—no Barney or Sesame Street in that household—with a few exceptions: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Curious George. She watches every Disney movie known to man approximately 6 times in a row, each, but Mommy and Daddy don’t mind watching those one bit. The girl has very strong opinions about Glee characters (“Finn and Rachel! Kissing!”), and most recently she has started watching her aunt’s all-time favorite: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I actually showed her an episode about a year ago and she was scared of the crinkly-faced vampires, but now she is TOTALLY into it. The other day on the phone she told me we are going to help Buffy. Indeed we will, Zo.
4. She loves me.
One of my favorite moments with Z was the last time she came to New Jersey, at the end of September. I raced home from work in order to see her before she and her parents had to leave for High Holy Days activities, but lo and behold she was asleep when I got home. She woke up about 30 minutes later, and do you know what was the first thing she did? Rubbed the sleep out of her eyes, looked across the hall at me, smiled and ran into my arms for a HUGE hug.
I know, my heart is swelling too.
AND, my sister told me that one night recently she was telling her daddy that she loved him and he asked “Who else do you love Zoe?” She said, “Aunt Kate.”
5. She is self-aware.
As I said earlier, Zoe is slightly spoiled. And by slightly I mean very—whatEVER, if she wants sparkly purple fairy wings from Gap Kids, then Aunt Kate is going to buy her sparkly purple fairy wings from Gap Kids. That’s my job (as evidenced in accompanying photo). But because she is spoiled and because she is a toddler she throws her fair share of temper tantrums, and she’ll tell you all about them. The last time my mom and I went to Chicago we were in her playroom/the library when she was showing us various toys. We asked about one thing, I think it was some kind of basket, and she looked down at it solemnly and said, “Oh, I had a temper tantrum about this”.
6. My dad loved her.
My sister told me she was pregnant with Zoe via phone when I was at the Short Hills Mall purchasing a Christmas/Hanukkah present for her husband. (I’m assuming she told my parents and her dad before that, but I’m not sure.) She arrived at our house a few days later for holiday festivities and before I could even get down the stairs to greet her, my dad opened the door and said, “Hello Mommy”, and gave her a hug. It brought tears to my eyes even then.
So obviously my dad loved her, being the first grandchild and all. He was very fond of calling her “ZT”, hence the title of this blog entry and hence why I call her that. Aside from missing him every second of every day and dreading the big moments in my life for which he will not be present, I am devastated that Zoe will never know him. We will of course tell her stories, as my family has told me stories about the grandfather I never knew, but I wish she could comprehend just how much he adored her.
7. She can dance.
One of Zoe’s favorite activities is shaking her teeny tiny tushie to whatever music is coming from the TV. Even if it’s just a commercial. Her signature move is standing with her legs about shoulder-width apart, bending the knees slightly, and swaying her rear end from left to right with a ridiculous grin on her face. I have told my sister numerous times to sign her up for dance classes immediately, but little miss opinionated (Zoe, not my sister) will probably tell us when she’s good and ready to start dance classes. Which I hope is very, very soon—can we all pause a moment and imagine Aunt Kate being the extremely obnoxious photographer at the recitals?!
8. She is fearless.
During her first-ever trip to the beach—the Jersey Shore, of course—Zoe was knocked down by a few waves. Did she cry? No. Did she complain? No. Did she get up, look sort of befuddled, then laugh and beg to do it again? Indeed. She also has no fear when it comes to dogs and other creatures, often pulling on the tails of the golden retrievers in her family (there are a few) and telling them “No! That’s bad!”. While sticking her hand in their mouths.
A side note on that topic: Zoe’s gotten very good at sharing her toys. With dogs. One time my sister’s in-laws were over with their golden, Beaches, and they yelled at Beaches for stealing one of Zoe’s stuffed animals. So Zoe took it upon herself to bring said toy over to the chagrined-looking dog. “Here go!” *Smirks satisfactorily*
9. She has started to bond with GC.
GC is what Zoe calls my mom. My mom wanted nothing to do with being called “Grandma”, “Granny”, “Mama”, “Nonna”, or anything of that nature, and GC also stands for General Counsel (her position at work). My mom is not one bit the googoo-gaga type so Zoe wasn’t all that interested in her at first, but now that Zoe is a sophisticated 3-year-old they are pretty good pals. Zoe is always fascinated by GC’s jewelry (“oh beau-ful ear-rings, I have them?”), often asks where GC is if she isn’t in the immediate vicinity, and seems to truly enjoy discussing important life issues and current events with her. Such as The Rolling Stones.
10. She loves my sister.
I know, DUH, she loves her mommy. But she really, really, really, REALLY loves her mommy, and her mommy is my sister, and I love my sister. So it’s nice. Really, really nice.