Dear Sweet Squirrely Girl,
Happy Birthday, my darling! This year, you are six. SIX! This year has been like a whole new world, and I think it's because you have really entered the WORLD. No longer does everything in your life revolve around home and the little existence we carve out together; you go to school, you make friends, you experience things I will never witness or be a part of. Thankfully, our little family is still the center of your world and everything else you experience is still in the peripherals, but this is the year that I have begun to see this delicate world of ours is already beginning to tilt.
Your father and I have spent the few weeks before your birthday teasing you, telling you that you mustn't, no CANNOT, grow up. We informed you and your brother that no more birthdays are allowed, and you would therefore be five forever. This, of course, led to a great deal of despair, and wailing over the complete unfairness of the parental unit you were dealt, until we finally relented and explained that, regardless of our wishes, time marches on. And how it does, my sweet.
This has been a banner year for you. Perhaps, the biggest event of the year is that you started Kindergarten. This was both terribly exciting and a bit heart-wrenching for me. I love the excitement you had, the way you were so brave, with just a touch of nerves showing through. I love watching you learn. I've been amazed at how much you have come to know this year. You went off to school knowing your letters and most of their sounds, and you have ended Kindergarten as a reader. I feel so much joy and pride when we sit and YOU read ME a book. This change from non-reader to reader is as mysterious and miraculous to me as the metamorphosis of a butterfly. You do math too. And draw so beautifully now--your people have arms, legs, smiles, hair; your flowers have petals and your houses have windows. You LOVE your teacher. I have to admit, there have been times when I've been a bit jealous of the amazing Mrs. D--her ability to coax that learning from you and your trust in her teaching. But because of all she's done for you, I love her too. And in spite of my constant reassurances to you that you will love first grade and your new teacher just as much, I feel a little bit of that anxiety you feel as well, wondering if another teacher could possibly ignite that fire and show such care for you as well.
You have a best friend. A "best best best best best friend." And it's not me or one of the dorm girls, but another little girl, like you, who loves the land of make-believe and dress-up and princesses and dragons and rock stars as much as you do. You play inexhaustibly. I love that you are learning the ropes of friendship and the discussions it brings up, the additional layer of preparation for the real world it gives you. I'm not crazy about the sassy way you have learned to speak back, or the concepts you pick up which I wish we could keep away a bit longer. I feel dread too, in this transitional stage of our lives, knowing you will lose her at some point and knowing that the first heartbreak so many little girls experience is the loss of a best friend to distance.
You are growing in the Gospel in a sweet, and beautiful way. Your prayers have become more thoughtful and sincere. You ask deeper questions. You encourage your brother towards reverence and have started teaching family home evening on occasion. You have a sweet little testimony and enjoy the lessons you learn at home and in church.
You are in many ways much the same as you have always been, and with the way time continues on relentlessly, I am so grateful for the consistency of your personality:
You are charming. Your big blue eyes and dimples and sweet thoughtfulness catch the affection of everyone you meet.
You are contemplative--you ask big questions and listen to the answers.
You are sensitive--you are still so scared of so many movies and shows, and you are affected deeply by bad news you might hear about. (For instance, our pug Titan died this year, and though he hadn't lived with us for 3 years, you wept as though you had known the daily comfort of his presence.)
You are thoughtful--you like to do things for others that know will make them happy: draw pictures, sing songs, make presents.
You are flighty--you travel from activity to activity, never caring to put too much effort into any one thing. We bought you a ukulele for your birthday, and though I think you'd have a great deal of joy from learning to play, I won't hang my hopes on you applying enough dedication to be a maestro.
You lose things--I don't know if this is a "you" thing or a six-year old thing, but you cannot keep track of your shoes, your backpack, your "favorite" toy of the moment.
You are silly--you love getting people to laugh, and lately this silliness takes form of making funny voices and funny faces, or trying out hysterically terrible impersonations of songs or movie scenes you know are funny (though you may not always know why).
You are a performer--I love watching you dance because there is such a transformation that comes over you when you know you have an audience, but you also love to sing and run and leap when no one is watching.
You are sassy--you've always had a sassy, defiant streak since the day you were born, and it certainly remains. It's turning into a pre-teen sort of sassiness, something I'm not sure if you've come about naturally or if it is something you've learned from your peers. Thankfully, your finer graces usually win out, even though we do have to endure your defiant shouts of "no!" and crossed arms.
You are a great sister--you love your brothers and you mother them. At times, this causes problems, like when you boss your brother to the point of arousing his anger (in fairness, his anger is often easy to kindle), or when your baby brother lets out banshee screams because he doesn't like someone interfering with his plans for mischief. But for the most part, you are amazingly helpful and loving with them.
Some things you love this year:
Music: Adele--anything, Mumford and Sons' "The Cave" (you and your brother will play this on repeat FOR-EVER); Ellie Goulding's "Lights;" Five for Fighting's "100 Years;" Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds;""Somewhere Over The Rainbow" (we read The Wizard of Oz this year) and "The Rainbow Connection," and from primary, "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus" and "I Love to See The Temple."
To Eat: Candy. Always you have loved candy. You also have a thing for cauliflower and sweet peppers this year.
Your baby brother: Oh, how you have delighted to have a baby brother! You have been such a proud sister from the beginning. You love coaching him, teaching him how to crawl, walk, laugh, clap. You read to him and sing to him. In the days I have been writing this letter, he has started to call your name, always after you walk away from playing with him, he'll call to you up the stairs or through the door. He adores you and his favorite part of the day is when you come into my room where he sleeps, talk to him in sweet tones and carry him off to play with you. I love the love between you.
Your bigger little brother: While this relationship is somewhat more volatile, there is still such a great love between the two of you. The gap between you two is widening as you shift this year from family-centric to peer-centric, but there is still much fun to be had. Unfortunately, not a day goes by where the two of you don't have some sort of explosive disagreement (which almost always goes something like this: he does something he shouldn't or that you don't want him to; you put on your bossiest voice and attempt to correct his behavior; he resists; you insist; he either screams at you or hits you; you erupt into emotional tears). Thankfully, not a day goes by that you two don't roll in hysterical laughter together as well. You two are into body humor these days, jinx, and elaborate pretend games like superheroes, animal rescuers, princesses and knights, and detective. I know the impending years and gender difference will continue to spread wider over the next few years, but I hope that these years of friendship and joy will lay a strong foundation for the other side of that valley when the gap narrows again.
To work: Emptying the dishwasher, sweeping, and cooking dinner. You always want to be helping in the kitchen, and admittedly, this is the place I LEAST like getting help. I'm working on that. You've also learned how to do your laundry and are getting better at this. You have the same problem as me though--you'll wash it and sort it, but folding and putting away are never any fun.
To watch: He-Man and She-Ra--Your father introduced you and your brother to the hero of his youth, and you both became instantly enthralled.
To play: Barbies, dress-up, princesses, and make-believe. Happily, you also enjoy a game of cars or superheroes, but your world is first and foremost, a "pink" one.
To read: Amelia Bedelia--you think her antics are hilarious, and I love watching you deduce the misunderstandings that she is known for. Elephant and Piggie--these Mo Willems books leave you in stitches. I am absolutely gaga for the hysterical laughter that these books bring out in you.
Things you definitely do not love this year:
Bedtime, but this has always been the case. You are somewhat better now, if I will indulge you in a story and any number of lullabies.
Cleaning up your messes--oh, how you weep and wail at the mention of cleaning your room or the piles of toys you have a tendency to leave out. I try to make this a more enjoyable experience, but it's hard when you collapse to the floor at the suggestion that you need to pick up.
The bus ride home from school: In theory you like the idea, but you are the last off the bus and it makes for one tired kid by the time the long ride is over. But I sure do love meeting you at the stop after school and enjoying those few minutes the two of us have to talk and enjoy one another.
As always, the simple descriptions and generalizations of the past year hardly do you any justice at all. And as always, it comes down to the simple fact that every single day, I am more in love with you than the last. Even though it is hard to see you grow up, to feel the long expanse of your body that once fit into my palms, it is also a delight. Every day I put the "old you" to bed and know that I will never have that same little girl in my arms again. But every day when you rise up and come to me, I get the "new you," and no matter how relentlessly time marches on, the loss is worth getting to know the person you are becoming. You are truly a glorious being. You are so vibrant that you reflect around on others. I am full of so many shortcomings and misgivings and so blessed to be your mother. Somehow, you are quick to forgive me of those shortcomings and make me feel better than I could ever hope to be. I'm so grateful every day for the blessing of being your mother and the deep spring of joy that comes from such a title. I love you my darling, darling love, from the depths of my soul. Thank you for being you, and for sharing another year with me!
All my love,