It’s March of Dimes time… People with preemies are gearing up around the nation for the annual fund-raising walk. At this time of year eight years ago, my mother managed to get me away from the hospital (where my two-pound daughter was incarcerated in Neonatal Intensive Care) for a few hours to do some shopping and to remind me that the rest of the world was still turning. I chose a new pair of sandals at Payless Shoes, and the sales clerk asked me the obviously rote question of whether I wanted to donate to March of Dimes to help prevent premature birth. I responded to the poor man’s innocent question by bursting into tears.
Elena Grace arrived, three months early, on Saint Patrick’s Day–and although you wouldn’t guess it to look at her (she has her Filipino father’s coloring) she’s got some Irish from her mom. And she’s quite attached to the Irish bit; when Keoni was explaining the Hawai’ian menehune (a small mischievous being) last weekend, he asked, as a comparative reference, if she knows what a leprechaun is. ”Of course I do!” she answered, indignantly folding her arms. “I’M half leprechaun!”
This little leprechaun, once so delicate in the NICU, has apparently become a notorious ball-buster in her karate class. Her big brother Christian mentioned off-handedly last week that she had made a boy cry during class. Or maybe two. Somewhat surprised, I probed for the story, which Christian happily told. (He won’t admit it, but there’s some big-brother pride going on here.)
“Well, they were sparring, and he wasn’t wearing his cup, and she kicked him in the…” [expressive eye-rolling and gesturing] “..down there, so hard that he PEED HIMSELF.”
“That was em-BAR-rassing!” Elena Grace added, with an expressive eye-roll of her own. Boy-pee, ewww.
“And then it happened again,” Christian supplied helpfully. (What did? Surely not…) “Well, after they cleaned up the mat, they paired her with somebody else, and he’s more like my size than hers, and she kicked him and HE peed himself too!”
I admit to being torn between compassion for these poor boys, and suppressing a grin at the mental picture of my little spitfire taking them down one by one. It’s such a far cry from her fragile form eight years ago.
For a few years after her arrival, I volunteered with March of Dimes and at the NICU, and founded the March of Dimes Idaho NICU Photography Project. But my most poignant March of Dimes memory comes from Christian’s kindergarten year, when he came home with a donation box for MoD, shaped something like a small milk carton. He solemnly explained to me what it was for, then disappeared into his bedroom for an unusual length of time, finally emerging to hand me the carton.
He had emptied his entire piggy-bank of coins into it, so heavy he needed both paws to hand it to me. On the side, in his painstaking kindergarten-printing, he had written, “Thank you for saving my sister.”
He spoke for all of us. Except, perhaps, for a couple boys in her karate class.