Tomorrow you will celebrate your fifth birthday. I won't say that it doesn't seem possible because it does. In fact, you sometimes act wise beyond the five years and your wondering questions send a shock through me. Already, you are curious about death, God, love and old age. I don't know how you are handling it, but I am exhausted now just recalling our conversations. I stumble over what to say to you because so much of those things are still a wonder to me. I want to give you solid answers, but I find I am incapable of lying to you. There are a lot of "I don't know"s tossed out there by me and I have to hope it will be enough until I can come up with a way to explain such things. Will that day come?
Speaking of world peace and such, your favorite cartoon is Pink Panther. Yesterday you told me that you wish he could come live with us so that you could teach him some manners and so he wouldn't bother "the white guy" in the show. I love that you have no idea how that sentence sounds. At this point in your life you have no idea what racism or sexism or homophobia is. You picked a Barbie with your Ma Lynn at the store and later pointed out to her that the Barbie was black. Just something you noticed at the later moment during play. This Barbie has on a pink shirt and she's black. You have also mentioned that two of your dolls are in love with each other, that you don't understand slavery (even after I explained it to you) and that daddies really should be allowed to stay at home like mommies. Now if I could just put you in a bubble and keep you this way forever, I could sleep at night.
You truly are a beautiful girl, into much of the typical little girl things like the color pink, princesses and fairies. You are into all the things I was not, which has got to be some sort of karma bouncing back. There are many days that I wish my sister were here so she could squeal in delight with you at the Disney Store. I wish she was telling you that her bedroom was pink and that she loved her Baby Alive Doll. You two would be quite the pair. But until we move closer to my family, I am able to avoid that inevitable awkward conversation when you learn that I used my Barbie Townhouse as shelving for my books.
That's not to say that we don't have the strongest of bonds. In your insecure times, I get you. You say a sentence of angst and I understand it in the core of my chest. You don't like being away from me or your dad at all. Not even for school. I was that kid too. Would rather have stayed at home with my mom any day rather than go to school. Even when I had friends Even if school was fun. However... you have to go. One day you will see that as a simple truth and you will be glad your dad and I make you go.
You are a shy one. Many tears are shed over large family gatherings and school performances. You might never be the first girl to run onto a stage but you will be the girl who appreciates the applause, loves the show and comes back for more. It takes you a while to warm up to anything that involves you being the center of attention. As a self proclaimed backstage worker, I get that too but sometimes it's hard because, as your mom, I am so proud of you, think you are so talented that it's hard for me to not want you right there in front where everyone can experience the marvel that is you.
Speaking of those talents, you are a great singer. You learn the words, you hit the notes and you truly enjoy singing. You also have an uncanny ability to mimic accents and remember movie lines as well as any movie buff I know. I try not to cry like a fool when you sing a song from my youth because you learned it from Shrek. But when you dance around the room to London Calling, I think your father and I both feel like we have done something so very right that tears are appropriate.
Your sense of style is whimsical. You love a glitter here, a ruffle there. Matching colors are irrelevant and comfort is key. I like that about you. I like that you see clothes as fun and have no desire to copy anyone else. I hear that changes, but for now, I enjoy it.
In the last couple of months you have come into your role as sister to your little brother. I nearly had a stroke when I heard you say that he was your best friend. I clearly remember the not so distant past when you told me you didn't like being a big sister because it was too hard. Being the youngest in my family, I felt the need to explain the trials of being the younger sibling, which I think you took to mean "Mommy loves your brother better". Because it was not that long ago that you also asked me why I find him so adorable and not you anymore. That question nearly broke my heart and I wanted to call my mother for the 1000th time and apologize for my teen years. But if I fail you in other ways during this parenting gig, know that it is only because I was so intent on getting that part right. He is your friend. Ignore anyone else who says siblings can't be best friends. You can and you are. It will be the greatest thing in your life to have that true friend. Will he piss you off more than anyone else? Yes. Will he still be there when no one else is? Yes. But he adores you, that little guy. I see him trying out your words, your tricks. His cars talk to your princesses because he just wants to be near you. You sing and he smiles, you make a face and he laughs. Through all your future fights I will remind of these days when he tells you that you are so pretty and funny and he hugs you because he knows you love him.
Your dad got me a Wii for Christmas. This is funny in itself - the notion that a gaming console is "mine". As if I would be the one using it the most. As with any other game I have played with you, your competitive nature rises up quickly during our bowling and sword fighting. Because of this, our biggest battle has been between your Win Or Flail and Cry attitude and my determination that you will not be a Quitter. It's all I can do to stop myself from quoting Martin Luther King Jr or Henry Ford or ... your grandfather - anything that will drive into your head that failing while trying is totally cool but giving up without giving it your all is... well, a path that leads to living in someone's basement well into your 30's.
Life has been good for you these five years, It's so good that your dad and I often wish were were you. And just when I think you don't get it, you tell me you NEVER want to grow up because you will have to grow old and stop playing like you do now. Today you even cried about it and told me that you want to be five years old, but you want to keep me always with you. I wish I had recorded that because when you start having to change my diapers one day, you might re-think that. But today I reveled in it. I I love life through your eyes. And I love you more today than yesterday.