Thursday, September 24, 2009

To Sydney, on the occasion of your 4th birthday

What a difference a year makes. Last year, I wrote here about the incresdible force of your personality, your energy, your compassion and nurturing demeanor. I wrote about how incredibly impressed I was at your adjustment to life as a big sister; I talked about your love of baby dolls and playground games. One year later, all these things remain true, and there is so much more to talk about. You are one amazing little person.

First of all, that little booty dance you do just makes my heart trip all over itself. One day, after dropping you off in your classroom at Abeona House, I happened to pass the half-opened doorway and stood for a moment, watching you. There you were, up on a chair, shaking your money maker and the whole class, including the teacher, was laughing along. One part of me wanted to tell you to get down--we don't stand on chairs--mind your manners, calm yourself down. The other part of me was shaking with joy and pride. Your exuberance is one of your greatest gifts.

I love watching you interact with Evan. He is at the age when he's into everything--particularly everything that belongs to you--and while I know this causes you distress, you rarely show it; instead, you are patient but firm. "Please give that back," you will say, in your sweetest voice, prying the object from his tiny hand. You monitor his activities from the corner of your eye, and are quick to catch him on his way to a dangerous activity, or making off with something he is not allowed to have. You give him hugs at school, take him down the slide at the playground, fall into hysterics when he gets annoyed with you and tries to push you down, share your animal crackers with him on the way home from school. When I was pregnant with Evan and was having trouble imagining how things would be when it came time to share my love with another child, a friend told me that the best feeling in the world comes from watching your children play together. She was right: it is magical. You are magical.

Speaking of magic, you have fallen in love with Harry Potter. We talk a lot about the stories, the characters, the good and bad, the scary and the exciting, the happy and the sad. You have a lot of empathy. You like Harry Potter because "he is a good boy and he is nice to his friends." You admire his courage and enjoy the scenes where he acts bravely in the face of fear. I think you harbor the secret hope that one day, on your birthday, Hagrid will come to our house, break the news to you that you are a wizard, and cart you off to Hogwarts.

You can write your name, and most letters of the alphabet. You can count to one hundred. You can carry a tune like nobody's business, and you have an almost frighteningly good memory.

You are in full-blown princess mode, and love dressing up and putting on lipgloss and wearing your "clip clops"--chunky, bejeweled light-up shoes that match your Cinderella and Snow White dresses. Despite this desire to emulate the fairer sex, you also love farting, making fart noises, and talking about butts, farts, and boogers. This, again, fills me with joy and pride, though I know I should tell you that these are not polite topics of conversation.

This is your last year at Abeona House. When the time comes, you will be ready to go--you will be ready for kindergarten, for the next step. But it is hard for me to imagine you leaving this family behind, this place that has held you and all your exuberance for these precious years of your early life. You are in a wonderful place, surrounded by people who see you for exactly who you are, who don't try to change you to fit a program or some notion of what little girls should be. I will fight to make sure you continue to have these experiences, but more importantly, I will try to make sure that I teach you to fight for yourself.

You are so beautiful, so strong and vibrant--every day with you is an incredible gift, one I never take for granted. Thank you for your hugs and kisses, your laughter, your compassion and honesty. Words could never express the love I have for you; hopefully, my actions will. Happy birthday, baby.
Love always,