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    And Then She Was Four

    February 22, 2009 by Brandy Vencel

    Each time one of my children has a birthday, I write a memoir of sorts. It’s like a love letter to the child. Last year, on A.’s third birthday, I reminisced about her life-affirming story. Every child has one, I think. Children are resilient, but on the other hand, it is a miracle they survive.

    If you don’t believe me, try raising a boy.


    This year is different. We have had A. with us for four years now, and yet there is a sense in which she was reborn this year.

    A. was a vivacious infant. She was sparkly and happy from the moment she was born. At four months, she began to crawl, and I began to wonder what sort of child I had on my hands, but she just wanted to be with her brother, who is still her best friend in all the world. Crawling meant she could be with him, and that was what she wanted.

    And so she was content and happy crawling, and lived this way for six whole months, tearing up the knees of all infant outfits, which were naturally not designed for mobility.

    And then the allergies hit. I’ve discussed them a lot before, so I’m not going to go into details today. But A. was around one, and subsequent to three rounds of antibiotics for a persistent ear infection, she became allergic to many foods.

    Of course, I didn’t know this at first. We changed her milk from cow to soy and later to goat. Goat milk works wonders with a lot of allergic children. However, I wasn’t aware of most of her allergies until she was two-and-a-half.

    This means that, for over a year, A. sat on my lap, sucking her thumb.

    Our active, happy child had disappeared from our home and in her place was a child who suddenly seemed very slow. Her mental development slowed way down so that, between the age of one and two, she hardly added a handful of words to her vocabulary. The girl that had wanted, from the day of her birth, to follow her brother and play with him now sat on the couch waiting for him to come to her. She cried. She whined. She slept for hours more than the average child her age.

    I could go on, but I won’t.

    Last year, on A.’s third birthday, we were about nine months into the GFCF diet. Her malaise had lifted. She was again running and playing. She was beginning to communicate in complete sentences. But there were still some problems. She still cried at the drop of a hat. She still had chronic, daily tummy aches. Life was looking up, but we had only won battles, and not the war.

    And then, when A. was about three-and-a-half, we met our beloved Dr. Linda. Within two months of beginning treatment {and only three appointments}, A. had been reborn. The infant I remember, the one who was happy and sanguine and had the energy to keep up with a brother who is almost three years older than she.

    She has returned to us! That is what I will forever remember about this fourth year.

    Today, I celebrate a four-year-old who couldn’t form a sentence a year ago, but is now learning her letters. A four-year-old who has opinions and all the words needed to express them. A four-year-old who wants to read and write, who can play Memory and actually remember where the pieces are, who doesn’t always need a nap. A four-year-old who has blossomed into a vibrant, dazzling little girl.

    Happy birthday, Little A. You’re right. All week you told me that you were getting taller, that you were almost four. And now, here we are. Today, you rode in your new pink butterfly booster chair to church with a smile on your face because now, you are four.

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