Thursday, May 28, 2015

A birthday letter to my four-year-old Pickle

My dearest Pickle,

Today you turn four, and while I go through the usual wretched emotions of seeing the last threads of your babyhood slip from my grasp, you’re “super excited” to be this big girl of your dreams - one who can do more, be more, except you’re already there and don’t even know it.

Sure, you still can’t read the stats in your Pokemon book, and you’re not quite tall enough for the bigger water slides that you've been desperately wanting to try, but what you’re capable of with your heart? I tell ya, you could move mountains. 

I’ve never seen anyone as generous as you, happily giving up your share of ice cream ("ice cweam!!!") for your sister who you know loves it too and making sure everyone around you gets to delight in what you enjoy. Admittedly, you can get a little overzealous with your sharing: “HERE! YOU HAVE TO TRY THIS!” but I know it comes from a good place.

This good place that has said, countless times, “I just want to make you happy” when you go out of your way to do something unexpected just so you can make the other person smile. And when someone thanks you for your loving gesture, you let out that little giggle that tells us that you derive more joy from giving than receiving, which is pretty incredible for any age, let alone a three- and now four-year-old.

This good place that is also fiercely protective of Little Miss, who’s 2.5 years older than you and who you absolutely adore,“Stop yelling at my sister!” and then you turn to gently say to her as you try to embrace her in your pudgy arms: “It’s okay, I’ll make you feel better. What do you want? Tissues? I’ll get that for you ‘k?”

This good place that created this conversation:

Me: You know what my favorite thing about you is? Your heart. Because you’re so kind and so giving. You always share what you like with other people.
You: That’s because when I make other people happy, it makes my heart happy too.

That right there. That’s perfectly, unequivocally you.

That is not to say that you’ve been an angel - I’ve never called either of my children because, come on, I know better. You’ve had your Terrible Three moments, and boy can you make a scene. But that part of you is par for the course - you’re growing, you’re testing your limits and pushing boundaries. I get that, and while that’s not my favorite part about you, what comes after sure makes up for it.

Being a little shit is just one of your many talents

Your ability to be self-aware after a difficult episode and walk up to us, unprompted, to apologize often melts us: “I’m sowwy Mommy...I’m sowwy Daddy…” You hate being on the wrong side of our affections, and we can never stay mad at you so it always ends in a teary embrace and wet kisses on your soft cheeks that still, much to my delight, hold traces of your baby fat. We recognize the moment when all is right with the world again when we see that light radiating from within you. That light that shines bright enough to help me find my way on days that I am lost, especially now with this mysterious pain that has descended on my joints, leaving me hurt, baffled and weary every day. Which you often ask about because that's just the kind of person you are, always aware of the feelings of others: "Are you feeling better today mommy?"

I love, as family clown, how funny you are (as your Daddy says, "you’re a goofnut”, which sends you cackling) and how smart you are (despite declaring “I can sing Twinkle, Twinkle Star in  Spanish!” when in fact it was in Mandarin. Ahem - we'll work on that). And how, at four, you’re already swimming gracefully on your own and making new “fwiends” easily everywhere you go. 

You can be fearless, but when you have a nightmare, you climb into bed with me at night, "just for two minutes", and you can be so sweet because when that time is up, you willingly uncurl yourself from my arms and head back to your room, saying "I don't want my sister to wake up and not find me there with her."

It amuses us to no end that you continue to struggle with rolling your tongue for “r” words and your lisp seems to be stuck to you, but I also secretly celebrate this impediment because we can fix these little hiccups in your speech when you’re older, but we can’t ever have our little baby back once you decide to leave it all behind.

However, instead of fearing and fighting the inevitable, I realize I should just be grateful for every moment I get with you because you know what? Whether you’re 1, 4, 10 or 20, it’s going to be extraordinary no matter what. I’m so incredibly proud to be your mom, Pickle, and I love you more than words can say.

Happy birthday my sweet. Thank you for being the light and joy of our lives.