Happy birthday to you! I can’t believe that eight years ago I was able to hold you in one arm. I love watching you grow and learn and be silly and love up your baby sister and learn some more (I am in so much trouble in a few more years)! You prefer to be called “smart” over “cute” or “pretty,” something you came up for yourself in the last year, and that’s fine by me.
Your heart has the capacity to love everyone in your family. You throw yourself into giggling fits with your sister, you build forts out of the couch cushions with her, you like doing puzzles and games, especially the ones in the highlights magazine, and you also love being a brownie and helping your girl scout sisters whenever you can. You whiz around on your scooter with confidence—last year you were not nearly so energetic with it. Your baby sister follows you everywhere, even when you have sleep-over friends, and you still welcome and include her, too, because that’s how big your heart is (yay!). Yes you get annoyed with her from time to time, but you also cuddle up with her, too. Your teachers have only said good things about you—how you play with other kids and help them or always try and get the answer right. That art is “your thing,” something you can lose yourself in.
You are learning to challenge boundaries and “the rules.” You’ve become quite the negotiator and debater. Le sigh. Given our two families situation, I sense your inner conflict and do everything I can to give you room to work through it. When you do get mad, sometimes you go up to your room and scream into your pillow. And after you’ve calmed down, I sit with you how you need me or want it to be—with space or with cuddling, or even, a big carry-hug. We talk calmly about what happened and why—how it’s okay to have our feelings but it’s not okay to yell at people or throw things. Sometimes there is crying and lots of times there are hugs. Yes, you are allowed to feel conflicted and yes you are allowed to have your feelings. (And I worry and wonder if the reason you do not express these things at dad’s house is because you know deep down that it’s not safe to act that way there.)
Over this last year there’s been some big changes. Our house, while the same house, looks and feels different—with A moved in and new furniture and rooms re-arranged and de-cluttered—and we are a blended family. I see you spend time with A and bond with him—reading books, or going shopping with him, or helping when he’s cooking. Sitting with him playing games or just talking, or asking for a turn to be carried. It warms my heart to see this relationship grow.
The constant to these swirling life events through the years: that I love you and am doing everything I can to provide a positive life for you, so you can grow up and learn somehow, somewhere, that to be truly loved, it has to come without a cost. That we can be responsible for our actions, but we cannot be responsible for others’ actions. Love is demonstrated by kind and thoughtful actions and behavior, not just words, and I hope this knowledge seeps into your skin through to your caring and sensitive heart.
p.s. You did ask for an IPAD this year, but I’m getting you a kids android tablet. You will have to read as much as you play on the tablet, and I can already hear your voice—“does reading ON the tablet count?” and am considering the answer. <3 span="">3>