Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Little Bird Turns Six!

To my darling Little Bird,

You are my absolute favorite kindergartener in the entire world. To be honest, this year has also been one of my absolute favorites with you. You are positively delightful in every sense of the word. You ooze the magic of childhood from every little molecule. The sixth year of your life marked some sort of change in you that has been nothing short of remarkable. From my perspective, it seems that all the frustration of your previous years has finally begun to melt away. You are articulate, as you have always been, and in addition to that, I think you've reached a point where you don't become so overwhelmed by all those big thoughts and feelings of yours as you used to. You are suddenly able to express yourself--your worries, your wonders, your wandering thoughts. They all come tumbling out of you in that same wordy way they did before, but with an added sense of self and confidence that wasn't there before as you struggled with the great big world happening inside your head.

You experience the strange world of childhood in a fully committed way. You're never worried about growing up or being viewed as a kid. Everything is a wonder to you, and your world of childhood imagination IS the world. You're hysterical and say things that shouldn't possibly come out of a five year old's mouth--a vocabulary that rivals most adults' and the ability to turn a phrase or idiom in precisely the perfect way make me sometimes forget that you are only five. And then, there you are, playing with your action figures, or weeping over a skinned knee and suddenly I am reminded of your age and tenderness. When I think back on my perception of childhood, I think it must have been ever so much like yours. As I watch you play--your joys, your frustrations, your games, your trust, your carefree spirit and the way you simply find happiness and let the bad roll off you--I think so much that this is how I remember my very young years. You remind me a lot of me...or at least how I remember me...and it's a feeling that brings me a joyful familiarity.

There have been some hurdles this year. We've worked in a big way on your anxiety, which now seems so distant. You've made some major jumps in your learning. You read remarkably well. (A few days ago, you asked for help with a word in a book. The book was The Lord of the Rings. I said perhaps we should choose an easier book, to which you informed me you'd already read the first six pages...) You love math. (Sometimes, when your sister is working on her math, I have to chase you off because you like to shout the answers to her.) At the same time, as Kindergarten has proven much too easy for you, and we've not had much luck in getting any appropriate acceleration or differentiation, you're becoming lazy. This worries me, as I want you to continue to love learning in the way you always have, without becoming hyper, distracted, or bored. You've mastered your temper in the last year, mostly, which is a concern I've had. But you have really figured out how to calm yourself and your worries. I am so proud of you for this, because I know it can be hard!

Your relationships with your siblings are ever changing. You still adore your big sister, but are struggling with the phase you are entering with her--the one where she wants to leave you out of the play at times, especially when friends of her own are near, and where suddenly the little brother is "annoying." You love weekends best, because it means you can sleep in her room, but are hurt the worst when she doesn't want to play with you. When it comes to your little brother, there has been a great transformation. You still fight in the way I suppose most brothers do, especially where he just wants so much to do all you do (which often entails taking your toys), but at the same time, I see you try to encourage him, teaching him to do things, playing with him. There is nothing I love more as a mom than seeing my children care for one another, and I have gotten to see that so much more this past year.

With the change from five to six, there is an independent streak that is hard for me as a mom. Your sister went through it about the same time, and it's so bittersweet. It's really the first major shift socially, as you turn from the family (ME!) as the center of your universe, to your peers. I love that you have friends you are crazy about. I love to hear stories about them, tales of cops and robbers (is it silly that I adore the fact that it's still called "Cops and Robbers" as though the game itself is a throwback to a simpler time?), bridge building, jungle gyms, and races. And at the same time, I hear in those stories a widening circle of relationships that will only grow over the years I have left with you, where I hold but a single space of many in your heart. Already, you are less "mine."

You are so joyful. Surely, there are the temper tantrums, and the disagreements over TV time and whether you will eat your dinner and clean your room, but ultimately, those are only moments and exceptions. You are affectionate. You love to hold my hand or gaze into my eyes with those big round brown cow-eyes of your own. You like to snuggle on the couch, and more nights than not, you still find your way into my and daddy's bed and wedge yourself in to take up as much space as can be made available. You are a pleaser.  You get a great deal of joy from making others happy or receiving compliments. You nearly always share your treats and goodies with your siblings, even if the favor is rarely returned. A while back, you wore your suit to church and were told you looked "like a handsome missionary." Each week since, you've taken extra care of your appearance and asked if you look like a missionary. You remember compliments like that for a long time, but are never to happy to rest on them. I see the way you like to continue to earn the privilege of praise. You take pride in being the kind of person who deserves it.

You are very funny. Quick witted and good-natured, your jokes are full of kindergarten-level silliness and higher-level word play. You love to read joke books and share the punchlines with anyone who will listen. In addition to joke, this year, you are into Pokemon, Skylanders, Legos (and how!), Minecraft (even though you've never played), Superheroes, Scooby Doo, and Star Wars (even though you've never seen it). You love playing chess, which Daddy taught you to do this year. A day rarely goes by that you aren't begging someone to play, and you even play against the iPad at times. You love having your back scratched and your forehead rubbed. You love wrestling and riding the bike Daddy taught you to ride this year. You love to climb up trees, but are afraid to climb down. You sing songs, but only when you think no one can hear you. You are sometimes naughty, but never with malice. You are often sweet, and always with intent. You forgive so quickly, and I need forgiveness so often.

You are a thread attached to my heart. You bring me so much joy. So much. And I love to stop and watch you. Just watch. Because you are so small and so big and so...everything. It's hard to explain this fleeting, eternal, loud, silent love I have for you. Glorious you.

Long ago, when you were just born and I saw those big eyes taking in the world, taking me in and filling me up, I chose the nickname "Little Bird" for you. I chose it because of a Carl Sandburg poem that filled my head when I first met you and fills me again every time I write these yearly letters for you.

love is a little white bird
and the flight of it so fast
you can’t see it
and you know it’s there
only by the faint whirr of its wings
and the hush song coming so low to your ears
you fear it might be silence
and you listen keen and you listen long
and you know it’s more than silence
for you get the hush song so lovely
it hurts and cuts into your heart
and what you want is to give more than you can get
and you’d like to write it but it can’t be written
and you’d like to sing it but you don’t dare try
because the little white bird sings it better than you can
so you listen and while you listen you pray
and after you pray you meditate, then pray more
and one day it’s as though a great slow wind
had washed you clean and strong inside and out
and another day it’s as though you had gone to sleep
in an early afternoon sunfall and your sleeping heart
dumb and cold as a round polished stone,
and the little white bird’s hush song
telling you nothing can harm you,
the days to come can weave in and weave out
and spin their fabrics and designs for you
and nothing can harm you–
unless you change yourself into a thing of harm
nothing can harm you.


You are my "Little Word, Little White Bird."

I love you.

Now, and always.

All my love,