My dear girl,
Yesterday, you turned eight years old. Eight!
On your eighth birthday, there are so many things I want you to remember forever. I want you to remember your daddy being the "mail slot monster" and cracking us up as we left for school the other day. I want you to remember how our sweet and cuddly dog, Valentino, loves nothing more than snuggling under your blankets in your bed with you as we read together at night. I want you to remember the mountain of cards that arrived in our mail today--from grandparents and aunts and cousins who all love you so much. I want you to remember your excitement at reading Harry Potter for the first time this week. I want you to remember how kind you are to your friends, and how gentle you are with the kindergarteners in after-school with you. You take time to help them, hug them, play with them, and really listen to them. We were leaving from school a few days ago, and at least 4 kinder students ran to hug you as you left. You took time to hug each one and say something special to them. I want you to remember how you supported a friend recently when someone called her a name at school. And how you cheered on the Spartans football team and tried not to give up hope that they would win, even when it was looking grim. I want you to remember the cheerful, fiery, silly, brilliant, hard-working little girl you are right now.
Because I hold all these things in my heart. As you grow, I see you not only as you are now, but as a patchwork of all the beautiful moments when your nature has been revealed, noticing how some things remain constant as you grow. I, as the memory keeper for our family, hold you in my heart as the amazing eight year old you are today, and also as the strong baby who cried with such gusto at birth. And as the conservative new walker who was careful and thought out your actions before you tried them. And as the nurturing protector of animals and children you were as a toddler carrying your "kitty" and "baby" around and rocking and cooing to them. And as the artist intent on her work at the light box in your montessori. And as the athlete scaling the school monkey bars at age 3! And as the talented creator of amazingly accurate and realistic 3D models in preK. And as the careful and insightful mathematician creating and discovering patterns in your blocks in kindergarten. And as the writer of interesting and creative tales in first grade. And as the calm and collected performer with the sharpest memory around, standing on a chair as the angel in our church Christmas play. And as the nurturer of the ignored, ridiculed, different, and forgotten children that you are this year as you navigate the sometimes difficult social world of school. You are, and have always been, a treasure to me and your dad. And when I look at you, I see you as you have been, as you are, and as you will be one day. And I am proud to call you my daughter.
Happy eighth birthday, my sweet! Your daddy and I love you with all our hearts.