Harlow turned seven(!) on Friday and to commemorate this moment in time, I’d like to write about what a unique bundle of joy my daughter is turning out to be. When Harlow was a baby, she was super intense and reserved, to the point where people would comment on it all the time. In her seven years, she has maintained that killer glare. I mean, check out this video of her staring down a little girl in a bird sanctuary who was trying to steal her cockatoo.
But if you peel back a layer to Harlow, you get to see this brilliant, hilarious wacky character who is a TON of fun. She showers attention on the people she loves and makes them feel both special and endlessly entertained. She is sentimental and has serious attachments to both people and objects. And for right now, she is still content to hang with just me for a fun afternoon. That’s why the Summer of Harlow was so awesome.
When your littlest turns seven, it really hits you how fast your babies are growing. Even harder than the year before. I think because Harlow has been small for so long, I’ve been able to pretend that she’s still a baby for way longer than most parents of 7yos. She’s still tiny, but her face is changing. She’s losing her chipmunk cheeks and her chipmunk voice. Her body seems taller and lankier, even if technically she hasn’t grown that much. Her style is changing. Her vocabulary and her sense of humor are both getting ridiculously sophisticated. Her questions about the world are more sophisticated too. I could probably name a million things that make Harlow unique and wonderful, but in the interest of everybody’s time, I’ll try to stick to seven.
7 Things I Love about Harlow on her 7th Birthday
1. Harlow maintains that Mazzy is her best friend, even when Mazzy won’t say the same.
This happens fairly often. If asked, Harlow will always say that Mazzy is her best friend. She will volunteer this information too. And almost every time, Mazzy will say something like, “Well my best friend is [insert person’s name from school.]” I think Mazzy does this just to play the role of the obnoxious big sister. She does it very effectively. The first few times this happened, Harlow got upset. But then she was able to establish that she was Mazzy’s “best family friend.” Now, Harlow will still bring up that Mazzy is her best friend pretty regularly and Mazzy will still shut her down. Every time. But Harlow will always follow up with, “That’s okay, Mazzy. You are still my best friend.”
2. Harlow has the best catchphrases.
I think most people who follow my blog have seen Harlow’s Baking Show. She’s a pretty fantastic host and she can crack an egg like a professional. Whatever mistakes she makes, she more than makes up for in personality. Or frosting. Her catchphrase is, “Mess-ups don’t matter because you just eat them.” Which should be everyone’s rules to live by, baking or not. Speaking of rules to live by, once, while we were on vacation, Mike was deciding whether or not he should go to the snack bar to get a snack. After weighing his decision for what seemed like an unnecessary amount of time, Harlow said, “Do whatever you want. You’re your own grown-up.”
3. Harlow’s version of heaven is THE BEST.
Once, when the subject of death came up, Harlow asked what happens when we die. I told her that your body is usually buried in the ground and then everybody has different ideas about what happens after that. I told her that some people believe in heaven, some people believe in reincarnation and some people believe that you just become part of the earth. I emphasized that no one really knows and everyone can come up with their own theory. Without missing a beat, she told me that she always imagined that when you die, you have a pizza party on the subway with your whole family and the Mensch on the Bench. You know what? If that’s what eternity looks like, I am ON BOARD.
4. Harlow dances to her own beat, which is usually a much better beat than the one I am dancing to.
Harlow loves to dance, and she’s pretty good at it. I’ve been sharing Harlow’s best dancing videos on Instagram with #MovesLikeHarlow for years. But the moves have continued to improve and now Harlow dances exactly how I wish I could dance. She makes up different dancing styles depending on the song/music genre and they always seem to work. It’s like she inherently gets something about the beat, that I hear, but cannot translate to my body. One of my favorite dancing moments this year was when we rode a parade float in New Orleans for Halloween. Harlow had a captive audience and danced her heart out for hours.
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My other favorite music to dance with Harlow is the Greatest Showman soundtrack, because that’s where I can really shine as a partner. I can lift her up, spin her around and slide her through my legs on the floor. We even do running leaps like in Dirty Dancing. The first time Harlow realized I could this, we danced for hours*, both fully invested in the emotions and grandness of the songs. She turned to me and said, “That’s good dancing, Mommy.” Best compliment ever.
* It was probably only 10-15 minutes, but when you work up a sweat in your kitchen, dead lifting your daughter repeatedly, it can feel quite a bit longer.
5. Harlow has plotted out her musical career goals.
For Hanukah last year, we got Harlow a ukulele. She’s been making up songs (“I love you, Mommy” is my favorite) and strumming her heart out ever since. This summer, I finally convinced her to take lessons. It was hard because she thinks she already knows how to play. After two lessons, she told me she though she was ready. “For what?” I asked. She said, “I’m ready to play in the park.” We’ve been going to Washington Square Park since she was a baby, always stopping to listen to the piano player, the jazz bands, the guitarists, etc. It never occurred to me that from her perspective, the park is a public stage to show off your musical talents. I guess it became a personal goal.
The first real song Harlow wants to learn on the ukulele is “Don’t Give Up on Me” by Andy Grammar. She became obsessed with Andy Grammer after she wacthed a video of him playing that song on a subway platform. She plays it on Alexa at every opportunity and has memorized all the words. She can somehow sing in pitch even when she is making up notes on the ukulele. And she surprised me by singing the song to a pretty large crowd for candy bar on Halloween.
One of the best moments this year was when we took Harlow to an Andy Grammar concert and she got to see her favorite musician and hear her favorite song LIVE. The joy in her face as she sang all the words along with the crowd will be something I never forget.
6. Harlow’s love of pandas is all encompassing
When Harlow loves something, she never lets it go. That’s been true for Pandas starting this year. Her love affair actually began when we started watching Survivor China together over the summer, because they would cut to random panda close-ups to show us the nearby wild life. Actually, our shared love of Survivor is something I want to include on this list but I think I’ve run out of space. Okay, I’m tabling that for another time. Anyway, pandas soon replaced raccoons as Harlow’s animal obsession and her love has grown ever since.
She dressed up as a Fashion Panda for Halloween this year, she’s lobbying hard to go to the DC Zoo because they are one of the few zoos in the states with real live pandas, and she’s having a panda themed birthday party this Friday. I should also note that almost every birthday gift Harlow has received so far has been panda related. Including panda socks, a panda mug and a stuffed panda from me.
That’s the good thing about kids with random obsessions. They are super easy to shop for.
7. Harlow has a way of making people feel special
I’ve said before that Harlow will be the kind of friend you’re glad to get seated next to at a dinner party. She’ll give you a warm tight Harlow hug and then entertain you with an endless stream of private jokes all night. She really does have a way with making people feel special. I see it in all the heartfelt greetings she gets from kids of all ages (and teachers!) when we walk into school.
At our parent teacher conferences this year, one of Harlow’s art elective teachers told me that her and Harlow had a very special connection. I laughed and said, “Yes, Harlow really likes when adults pay attention to her.” The teacher looked at me like I didn’t get it. And then she said, “Well, in addition to being a good student in class, she is just a really nice person.”
I really couldn’t have hoped to hear anything better than that.
Okay I think I need an 8…
8) Have I ever told you about “cheekies?”
Cheekies are this thing Harlow and I have been doing since before she could talk. I pick her up and we press our cheeks together. When she was a baby, it was a pretty effective way to get her stop crying. As she’s gotten older, we still do it all the time. It’s our private fullproof method to right the world. Harlow uses it to calm her down or when she is feeling sad. I use it when I need a pick me up or if I notice she is a little off. It’s just, “Harlow? I need a cheekie.” Or “Mom? Can we do cheekies?” And we’re there for each other.
Happy 7th birthday, Harlow. I will do cheekies with you always, even if you do them with other people too.