Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Birthday Letter to My Daughter, Forty Days Late.

Dearest Jenna,
How quickly this year has flown by: looking back, this will be the turning point, I think, to when I really began to Lose Track of Time and that is why this letter is so late. I apologize, and fully believe that if you read this blog, which you will someday, you would have gently chastised me in your no-nonsense fashion. You have been a miraculously wonderful kid during this year, rarely needing any type of punishment or correction, just lots of love and reassurance and, occasionally, a extra- long snuggle session in your bed at night.

You are a beautiful kid. You have been since the day you were born, gifted with not only those mesmerizing blue eyes, but an aura of sweetness and softness that permeated from you. You have chosen to grow out your hair this year, bangs and all, with the idea of letting it grow to your butt so people can call you Rapunzel. I have started to braid it at night to keep it under control while you sleep, and I think both of us find this nightly ritual of brushing out your hair and tidying it up a comforting one. One last chance to connect before bed.

You have grown like a weed this year, far outpacing your sister, and only 10 pounds separates you two. You are wearing the clothes Michaela wore in second grade and hopefully you won't outgrow them too soon because Michaela is now wearing the clothes you'd grow into. You are tall, taller than most kids in your class, but I still think of you as a petite little bird, fine boned and thin, needing protection.

You enjoyed kindergarten this year and adjusted beautifully to being away from home for the whole day. You were blessed with some of your best friends from Preschool in your class, which made the transition that much easier, and you just blossomed in their friendship. You love these girls, and they love you, and I laugh and marvel at how easily you giggle, hug and absent-mindedly hold hands with them as you walk around the school together, like it's the most natural thing in the world. You loved your teacher, who was a great fit for you, calm and quiet and reassuring and loving, and you learned how to read and do math problems and write. You cried on the last day of school, and I totally understand how you felt: happy to have time off but sad to leave a pleasant routine behind. (Though you did always ask me when you would have a day off, a weekend or vacation time, and did solemnly tell Gammie one day that "Kindergarten is the WORST.")

I feel like I get you because I think you and I are wired similarly, and the points of you I don't see in myself I clearly see in your dad. There is no denying it: you are a true product of your dad and I, cut from our cloth, so to speak, and very rarely, if ever, do we say, "Where did THAT come from?"

Except when you demonstrate the Iron Will of Jenna, the one that could take down entire civilizations in a single swoop.

I am slightly terrified of you, because I am realizing that while your bouncy sister and happy go lucky brother are amenable to boundaries being set (Michaela craves them, to be honest), you seem to take it as a personal affront when I tell you what you can and cannot do. Thankfully, you are a 50 year old woman living in a 6 year old's body, so rarely do I have to really lay down the law- you are remarkably reasonable- but when I do, holy cow. You can throw a fit and argue with me until the death. And keep arguing. And explaining. And telling me what YOU think should happen. And I have learned to hold my ground and Keep Being the Parent, lest we start a bad habit of you winning every argument and thinking you are right all of the time. And trust me, it ain't easy.

You are smart and deep and thoughtful and love extremes. At least once a week you declare "today was the best day EVER!" or "that party was the BEST ONE EVER!" or "this afternoon was the MOST BORING EVER!" and I always marvel at how you so enjoy life. You counted down your birthday month by month until it became weeks and then days until your big day. Then, two weeks afterwards, you started telling people, "I'm six... six and a half, really."

We had a super fun party with your friends and family, and you were thrilled to get Julie, the American Girl doll from your godparents Judy and Bryan.

You had a friends party at The Pottery Place a few weeks later with eight of your girlfriends from school and the neighborhood, and you all painted pieces of pottery like real artists. You wore your birthday crown from school, carefully put aside on your nightstand (you are an amazing mix of intentional neatnik and absolute slob), and looked adorable.

You and your sister remain as thick as thieves, simultaneously loving each other to death and driving each other crazy... you know, the way sisters do. One of the greatest joys of my life is watching you two grow up together, knowing what a bond you have and will always have. And your brother is just as crazy about you, his Nenna, and is constantly seeking your attention and wanting to play with you and show you stuff he has discovered.

You are a joy to behold, a blessing from God, and we just adore you. You have everyone who knows you wrapped around your finger. When you cuddle up on my lap and hug and kiss me, I burst with love for you.

I can hardly wait to see what the next year has to offer you.

You wrote this on the paper covering the table at your birthday party:

And I hope you always will be.

I love you, my sweet Baby Girl.




Anonymous said...

Cheryl, what a lovely letter to your "Nenna". Thank you for making my day and making me appreciate you all the more. You are an amazing writer and I love you and what you write. Thank you for sharing your life and family with me and all the others in "blog land" who hang onto your every word. Blessings and love, Char

Anonymous said...

Thank you for letting your far-away friends feel they know your Nenna as intimately and perceptively as you do! Happy next year, sweet blue eyed girl! Love, LW

Anonymous said...

Our beloved Nenna-so deep and wise for her NEARLY 6 and a half years! What a joy she is to us all! We love you, Jenna! Gammie and Pops