In 2005 I learned about http://www.dooce.com, a blog that turned me on to blogging. She wrote monthly letters to her first child and still continues this tradition with yearly birthday letters to both of her children. I have done the same for my kids since they were born, but this is the first one I am going to share on a public post. I am so glad I ran across this blog before I had kids because these letters are great reading materials when I want to remember each age and stage of my babies.
Dear Twinkle Toes,
I’ve written you a letter on or near your birthday since your first one. Every year I get so wistful, remembering our nervous anticipation the night before you came into this world, the first moment I was allowed to hold you, and the moment I realized that I wanted to be a better person just so that I was the kind of person who deserved someone to look up to them. Those first 24 hours were amazing, but these last six years inspire- your candor and grace, humor and honestly, humility and love push me to new levels of human understanding daily. You are the embodiment of everything good about childhood. I don’t love you like I did that first day we met; I love you so much more. I borrowed that line from a great song that I sing to your Dad some times, Old Love by Paul Childers, but it fits here, too. Every day we spend together is a gift I would not trade for anything, Twinkle- I love you so much.
This year was a big one for you in hundreds of ways. You finished off your Title One program and enrolled into a mainstream kindergarten, the only thing remaining on your special education plan being speech therapy. I was so scared, Twinkle Toes, that the night before kindergarten started I couldn’t sleep. My heart ached for the end of your toddlerhood, the end of the era where Mom and Dad knew everything and the phrase “but so and so’s mom lets them do it!” did not exist. I have this amazing picture of you walking to school holding hands with Daddy that first day- you are dragging a backpack nearly as big as you on the ground, kicking your legs in the air, ready to take on the world. You were so brave, you didn’t even cry (too much) or ask us to stay with you. You decided about 2 days into the year that school rocked, and immediately embraced this new life stage.
You learned to navigate friendships this year, too, in new ways. Kids are petty, Twinkle Toes, and when they meet someone like you, with a sense of personal style and a mom who doesn’t pick out their clothes for them, life can get painful. Sorry I yelled at your friend Addison, by the way, for telling you that your outfit was funny. It wasn’t appropriate for me to tell a five year old that she was a mean little girl, but in my defense she totally deserved it. One of the best parts of this year was watching you stay true to yourself. Instead of changing how you dressed you were so cool you inspired the school- other kids started to wear tutus over pants, mismatched socks and three different polka dot patterns at once. You were a trendsetter not because you wanted to be the coolest, but because you were not afraid to be yourself and everyone wanted to emulate that feeling. Even Addison came around and wore a nightgown as a dress one day, so I guess she really wasn’t that mean after all.
You soared academically as well, advancing well beyond the expectations for Kindergarteners. You tested in the 99th percentile (that means you tested better than almost everyone else your age) in everything. You can read anything you see, and what’s better yet is that you choose to read in your free time. We spent a few Saturdays making science experiments in the kitchen- when I overlooked the mess and saw how inquisitive and thoughtful you were I was blown away by how soon you will surpass me in your knowledge and skills. You can read, you write your own books (at least once a week, I have a giant stack I am saving to give to you some day), you like to make and test hypotheses and you love math. At the end of year award ceremony you earned every possible award for a Kindergarten level student. Dad and I came to the ceremony, filmed it and cried a little. OK, a little more than a little. I always knew you were smart, but the fact that you are so proud of your brain makes me even happier.
I want to tell you a story. When I was in 7th grade someone told me that if I didn’t act so smart I could probably make a couple friends. So I acted dumb. I still did well in class but I stopped trying to do my best and I definitely never let on to my friends that I liked learning. This was a DUMB decision, I spent many years pretending to be something I wasn’t, when I could have worked harder and done so much more with my early years, prepared more for college, or at least figured out what I was good at and make a plan for my future. I hope you never lose your love of knowledge, Twinkle Toes, and I hope that you never hide it, either. You are a trendsetter, you can make being smart and quirky cool if you want to, and your naturally awesome personality has its own gravitational force that only amplifies with honesty about who you really are and what you love best.
You also joined your first organized club this year. You are a Girl Scout! You embarked on friendships with new girls that I hope will last your lifetime. You sold tons of cookies, hosted parties at your home, learned new awesome songs about purple stews and Shaking it, and most of all you were authentically you with these girls, too, even though they were older than you. There will be plenty of time to acquiesce to societal norms in the future- for now, keep trying your hand and being a leader and creating positive group dynamics. You are already so amazing at that at age 6 I cant wait to see what you accomplish at age 16.
My wishes for you are simple this year- I want you to look in the mirror every day and see an amazing person with intelligence, enthusiasm, authenticity and beauty. When I ask you what you like best about yourself I want you to continue to purse your lips, lift your eyebrows and say, “I don’t know- everything is pretty great.” I want you to keep up with your gymnastics class, your dance class and your Girl Scout troop. I want you to explore empathy and use it, always, instead of walking away from tough situations. And I hope you continue to interrupt me at night when I start telling you I love you by rolling your eyes and saying, “You say this every day, mom, I know you think I am awesome and great and stuff. Can you get on to the songs please?”
Being your mom is a sacred gift. Watching you grow, learning your personality and teaching you how to be a good person fills our days and nights with wonder. You are the oldest, you are the one we try things with first, and adjust accordingly with your brother. I hope you never feel like the test drive, though, because baby we love you so much and are trying our hardest to give you the best foundation for living a good life. Your first cry signified the end of my selfish years, the end of thinking that anything was as important as being good to my children. Your life has brought so much light into the world and I am so honored that I was chosen to be your mom. Happy sixth birthday Twinkle Toes, the world is so much better because you are in it.
Love you baby girl,