Oh my girl. You are six, and six is only the beginning. But there you go already, wild and free. You’re braver than I ever was, but you have my introspection, my imagination, my love of books, my weak-knee’d adoration of all things cute and puppy-dog-eyed. You have a brother who challenges you but also follows your lead; who takes the fear and mystery out of “Boys.”
We were walking home from school the other day when suddenly you broke away from your brother and I, ran across the playground with joyful abandon I’d never seen from you on this school playground before. Six months ago, you’d sit in my lap and cling and whine to go home while your brother and the big kids played.
But this time you ran right into the thick of it toward a boy you know from your kindergarten class, leaving us in the dust. You made some incomprehensible in-joke and the two of you laughed and laughed. A few days later I saw you at recess, from the other playground where I was working, and there was that brave girl again, tearing around the playground in her pink hood, laughing with her friends.
Whatever you are, whatever you are becoming, you are not me. Why all the relief, I wonder? Was it so bad to be me at six? I was very happy in my own way, mired in my own little world of wonder, imagination, and self-imposed seclusion. Your challenges will be completely different from mine. No less heartbreaking, of course.
But perhaps I’m just slightly relieved that I won’t be reliving verbatim my own specific awkward, painful childhood moments through you. There will be different ones, nowhere on my radar yet, I’m sure. But it will be your path. And I will be the mother; not the born-again girl forever reliving my own girlhood. I knew that already, of course. But it’s nice to remind myself again from time to time.
I’m so proud of you, my girl. I love your heart-melting innocence and your unabashed delight in raunchy humor. I love your spot-on Homer Simpson voice and your wide-eyed adoration of all things American Girl. I love your pinker-than-pink dresses and your messier-than-a-college freshman’s bedroom. I love finding pieces of your writing around the house, especially the draft of your “Fem Song” (which I can only assume is a “theme song”).
I love that you have fallen asleep to the same Cocteau Twins album every single night since you were tiny. I love that, no matter how many times we tell you, you call the Beach Boys the Beach Brothers. I love that your expletive of choice is “Aw peanuts.” I even love that you’re still awake right now, interrupting my typing to hug me and say softly “When I grow up, I want to be an author!”
I love how you are shades of each of us, and yet entirely nothing like any us. And I love how you completed our little nuclear family. Our darling exclamation point. Our cherry on top. Our little star of Bethlehem, joining us just in time for Christmas and giving us an extra holiday to celebrate during this merry and bright season.
Happy birthday, my girl. This is only the beginning.