Thursday, November 13, 2014

A birthday letter to my Little Miss Six-Year-Old

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My dearest Little Miss,

You are six today. SIX! I express the disbelief of most parents when I realize that the child I’m holding no longer fits the nook of my cradled arms that seemed like they were meant to protect all of you once upon a time. Now that feels impossibly long ago. These days you hang heavily and precariously from our grasp, your gangly limbs flailing and foreign. When you see us carrying your sister or hanging her by her legs or tossing her in the air, you squeal, “Do that to me! Do that to me!”, not realizing that we might break our back doing the same for you. But still we try. Because we, too, have a hard time letting go of the notion that our first baby really isn’t a baby anymore.  

So much has happened in the last year, since you turned five. Let’s see…we experienced the worst winter ever in Chicago (remember when school closed on the day it was a high of –16? Brrr!). But even then I think you remembered and loved the record snowfall the best, conveniently forgetting the part where it was too cold to even go outside to play in the snow that turned to blocks of ice the very next day. That winter might have had something (a lot) to do with our decision to move here to Austin this last spring, where you started a new life in this new state, at a new preschool, with new friends, and even learning a new language, Mandarin. Then we bought a house and you had to move once again from our temporary apartment that you adored to our new home, uprooting you one more time in three months. Once summer was over, you took another giant step into Kindergarten, where once again, you had to make new friends and learn new rules. You even learned to take the school bus.

I am wrought with guilt, fear, and worry like any parent, but now that I’ve seen you go through so many of life’s big changes with barely a blip on your radar (except for the part where you had changed your favorite color from pink to blue), it assures me that no matter what happens, you will be okay. And that, my darling, is a wonderful thing.

You astounded me with the grace and vigor with which you had managed these changes. Sure, you sometimes pine for Chicago (I still do), you complained about the heat here (who can blame you?), you miss your old friends (I feel the same) and you say you miss the snow (your daddy thinks you’re crazy, but I secretly miss it too), but that just means you’re normal. Whew! Six years into this whole parenthood thing, I realize now that, for me, normal is the new awesome. Except your standards are a little higher than mine. You don’t just settle for normal.

 

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In the last year, you’ve also impressed us with your aptitude, enjoying multiplications at age five, testing into the best elementary schools in Illinois, and now you’re reading at 5th grade level. All of this became the driving force behind where we bought our home, so you could be challenged in a district with the best schools in the area. You are the reason we strive higher, but it can also be exhausting to have to keep up with your high demands and expectations. With you, we find ourselves constantly questioning if what we’re doing is enough, and this is where we often clash. Why can’t she just be happy? we find ourselves asking that question a lot, and we do everything we can to achieve a middle ground that satiates your voracious appetite for more, more, more but also encourages you to be grateful for what you do have.

I have to admit, I struggle with that greatly, because sweet pea, you don’t just make it easy do you? That is not to say that you’re a difficult child. You’ve always been good with following rules, whether at home or in school. Compared to your sister, who often confuses rules with mere suggestions, you have a penchant for a set structure and the black and white, which helps us immensely when we’re trying to establish a more peaceful environment at home. But that also means you have little patience for your sister, who seems a little feral when she doesn’t abide by the same sense of order that you like. However, in most cases, you just cave in and copy her, which flabbergasts us, although we know you do it because you default to behaviors that yield the most attention. As most kids your age do.


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But you also do plenty that most kids your age don’t. I love that you can easily entertain yourself during the two-hour quiet time while Pickle (fights her) naps. At this time, you devour several books in one sitting, you enjoy your limited screen time on your Nintendo DS, you pretend you’re a princess/queen/teacher/mom/baby/sister/witch as you play on your own. I find you lyrics on the Internet to songs on the radio and you sing your little heart out to them, and I laugh when you tell me that you can’t get certain songs like “Cool Kids” and “Riptide” out of your head. Oh I so know the feeling. 

Parents with younger children are often amazed at your age - “she’s only five?” – and how nurturing you are with their toddler, which always surprises me since you’re usually rough and gruff with your sister, but I suspect that’s just a sibling thing. I’ve seen you play gently with Pickle, I’ve watched you try to make her feel better when she’s hurt, and I am warmed by your sweetness. Every time I see this side of you, it gives me profound hope that maybe, just maybe, we’re doing something right.


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I don’t know if all of this makes you a typical six-year-old, but I do know that I am so grateful, so happy and so proud to be your mom. It’s an honor to be able to watch you grow into this beautiful little girl you are today, and I can’t wait to see you become the incredible woman that I know you will be someday. Or maybe I can.

With all the love in the world and then some,
Your mommy.


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