Congrats to my oldest daughter Sophie, who was recently accepted into the St. Louis Children’s Choir. This comes as no surprise to me, since I’ve been listening to her sing for nearly six years now. Here are two photos of Sophie; one recent, the other when she was 9 months old when she first started singing. I recall one LONG trip from Hamden, CT to Newport, RI (about 2 hours, absolute time) where 2 year-old Sophie sang “twinkle twinkle little star” NON-STOP for the entire trip. She is a funny girl. She likes pizza, seafood, princess movies, hitting softballs, reading, trimming trees with her Baba, coloring, and her friends. It’s a mystery, really, how did Jing and I (two committed introverts) produce a Sophie, who gets physically ill when there are kids playing nearby and she can’t join in.
I’ve known for a while that Sophie is a prodigy and destined for greatness. I’ve been at Stanford, Harvard, Penn, and Yale, and I can honestly say six-year old Sophie is as sharp as anyone I’ve known at any of those places. I’ve complimented my memory once or twice on this blog; hers is WAY better. She can remember the color and decoration on every cake of every birthday party she’s ever been to. And she gets invited to lots of birthday parties. Last week, she was bragging about how she can spell ‘discovery’; I had recently been doing some of my cognitive rehab, so I asked, somewhat mischievously, whether she could also spell it backwards. She paused for a moment, looking up and to the left, and immediately started reciting: “Y R E V O C S I D”. No small feat; I’d have to have a pen and paper to do as well, what with the recent brain trauma and all.
I’m sorry to say that my illness has been hard on Sophie. She has picked up a nervous habit of clearing her throat constantly, which I attribute entirely to anxiety about my illness. I haven’t been much of a father the last month, with the two weeks in various hospitals, rehab assignments, and general anxiety and self-involvement. Although, I did let her paint my toes with a glitter pen last night. It was a good moment for both of us. My friend and colleague at UMSL, Sam Wang, was kind enough to pretend he didn’t notice that my toes were sparkly blue and fabulous when he visited later that evening. I’ve shown some of the pictures she draws; she also left about a hundred “Welcom Home Daddy” notes around the house when I came back.
She’s also given Quinn some pep-talks about dealing with anxiety (see nearby image). She’s a sweet little girl, and literally feels my pain. In fact, she hates to see anyone in pain or distress, and has consistently been a vigorous defender of her little sisters. They’re both lucky to have such a great big sister.
My favorite moment being Sophie’s dad is probably all the times she’s fallen asleep in the car, and I’ve carried her limp, sweaty body upstairs to her bed. She wraps her arms around my neck and nuzzles her nose into my neck. Really one of the great moments. Alas, that I’m not allowed to drive for another five months, and I’m not allowed to carry anything heavier than a gallon of milk. In any case, she doesn’t fall asleep in cars anymore; she’s growing up.
And now she’s going to be performing with the St. Louis Children’s Choir! I can’t be any more proud. As I’ve said before, one of my academic blind spots has been classical music, and I’m absolutely delighted that Sophie will surpass my accumulated musical accomplishments in about two months. I can’t wait for her first performance.
Love you so much Sophie.