You climbed in to bed with me at a little before five in the morning on your sixth birthday. “Is it the middle of the night or very early in the morning?”
“It’s night time,” I told you. I am fairly sure I have a limited time left to tell you these white lies in the hopes of buying time in one way or another. You rolled over and snuggled up against me. You were quiet for just a minute before you said “I saw all those streamers, Mom. But I didn’t look at my presents.”
When I was a little girl my mom used to decorate our rooms at night so when we woke up on our birthday we felt special right away. And really I can’t think of a better way to start a new year. I hope you feel special every day of this year, little girl.
It’s a big year for you. A new house, two different schools, a new baby. So much happening, I think it could be easy to feel lost amidst the shuffling if you were a different kind of kid. But you somehow manage to roll with it and always make your presence known at the same time. It’s not easy to pull off easy going and be such a huge personality all at once, but somehow you do.
Yesterday morning before we left the house I asked you if I could help you do your hair. You wanted to do it yourself. You smiled and kissed me and handed me the brush. I think you know how hard it is for me to see you get so big. Just last week we were wrestling and laughing and you stopped, breathless and said you had a secret. “I am never going to move out, Mom. Never. I’m gonna live with you guys forever, okay?” It was like you had read my mind.
I finished your pigtails and grabbed a hand towel. I licked it, without thinking, the way a mother does, even though I wasn’t even two steps from the bathroom sink. Before I could wipe the glazed doughnut remnant from your face you grabbed the towel, a dry corner. “I can use my own spit.” I guess even that girl who has promised to live at home forever and always be my little girl has to draw a line somewhere.
Last night you read your own book before you went to bed. We have sounded out a lot of books. And many more than that you have recited to me from memorization. But this was a brand new book. And you read the whole thing.
Yesterday your dad brought your flowers home from the store and your eyes lit up. He said flowers are worth it for the split second face you make before you wrap your little arms around him. Later that night you pulled one from the vase and put it between your teeth and did a little dance.
I have told you a hundred times in the last month how very proud of you I am. You are strong. Independent. Smart. Funny. But most of all you are so understanding. At least once a week in the course of a normal conversation you stop me or your dad to explain that we are all one family, that the stranger we are speaking of is part of our family. That the people on the news are in our family. You take being part of the human family so seriously. (You can also let a conversation about littering bring you to tears. And I know that part of that is your age.) But I will do everything I can to help you keep that spirit. Your kindness.
You believe with everything you are that the whole world loves you and in turn you love them all right back.
Don’t let that go, little girl. Love fiercely. Love big. Somewhere along the way someone will tell you to be careful or you’ll get hurt, but I promise you the hurt is worth it. Don’t ever stop being you. I let you watch Moulin Rouge not long ago and you get it… “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and be loved in return.” You remind me every day that this is what we are all here for.
I love you, sweet girl.