Today you turn 7. SEVEN! It hardly seems possible. Then again, it hardly seems possible that there was ever a time when you weren’t in my life. You are, quite simply, the best time I’ve ever had. Your smile lights up every room you walk into. Watching you grow into the person you’ve become and the person you’ll be has been the greatest privilege of my life, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds you for you, my bright and darling daughter. Before you go on growing up any faster, I thought I’d preserve some of the things that made you you at the age of 6. Someday you’ll read this and know how loved and treasured you were. And I hope that many of the things that I’ve described here are still with you. Be brave. Always speak your mind. Your voice matters. You are smart. You are kind. Be your own person. Know that you have the power to move mountains and change the world. To quote Dr. Seuss, there has never been anyone more youer than you. Keep showing the world just how awesome YOU are.
When you were six, you loved cats more than anything. Probably even more than Mommy and Daddy.
When you were six, you lost your first tooth … and then five more. In fact, you lost your sixth tooth on the last day you were six because you were determined to make it happen. When I went to wake you up that morning, I saw you had written the word “tooth” on your wrist as a reminder to yourself to wiggle it all day. Sure enough, it came again thanks to your dogged determination.
When you were six, you wanted to be a veterinarian when you grew up.
When you were six, you experienced death for the first time when we lost your Da. From the start, the two of you shared a fierce bond. I wish you’d had more time with him but know that the years you had were full of love. He was so proud of his little Scooter.
When you were six, you suffered your first major heartbreak when your beloved kindergarten/first grade teacher moved away a few weeks into the school year. The timing couldn’t have been worse — you learned she was leaving the same week Da died. Some dark, sad, tear-filled weeks followed, but then you discovered the ability of Skype to bring far-off loved ones near again. You also learned that those we love never really leave us, even if we can’t be with them any more. Listen to your heart and you will know how much those two loved you once upon a time.
When you were six, you played basketball for the first time and loved it. And Daddy coached for the first time. You two made quite a pair on your Bad News Bears team.
When you were six, you also loved to run, go to gymnastics/fit kids after school and participate in Ninja Warrior Nights. And climb our walls. Literally.
When you were six, you discovered the joy of chapter books. You’d spend hours following the adventures of Junie B. Jones, The Neverland Girls, Ivy & Bean, the padawans at the Jedi Academy and Susan, Edmund and Lucy in Narnia.
When you were six, you had four pets — three cats named Blue, Duke and Otto and a fish named Bluey. Can you sense a theme?
When you were six, you opened your first business: the world’s first (and to our knowledge, only) Tadpole/Snocone stand.
When you were six, you played piano beautifully, especially your favorite song, “Ode to Joy.”
When you were six, you still believed whole-heartedly in Santa and the tooth fairy and were all too happy to engage in arguments about the validity of your beliefs with doubters. And, oh yes, the Blue Devil, too.
When you were six, you said good-bye to training wheels.
When you were six, you sometimes still climbed into bed during the night with Mommy and Daddy. Not that we were complaining.
When you were six, you went on your first major international trip and just like your parents, fell deeply in love with the people, animals and landscape of Costa Rica.
When you were six, your heart was the size of an elephant’s. You’d leave us little love notes all over the house.
When you were six, your imagination was a thing to behold. Whether you were creating your own spaceship out of a cardboard box or finding ways to incorporate cats into every piece of art or school writing assignment, your cleverness was a joy to witness.
When you were six, you still loved to be a goofy, silly kid, whether it was your constant “meowing” or making crazy faces, you were never boring.
When you were six, you also liked to give makeovers, then make even sillier faces.
When you were six, you were up for anything. From all-day trips to Disney to paddling down Florida’s streams, you were usually game for any new adventure. You were also fearless. You crushed the ziplining course in Costa Rica, while your parents trembled in fear at parts.
When you were six, you graduated from watching Disney and Nick Jr. cartoons and sought out shows like “Scooby Doo,” “Jessie” and “Austin & Ally.” Personally, Mommy missed “Jake & the Neverland Pirates” and “Doc McStuffins,” but you insisted those shows were for “babies.”
When you were six, it hit me again and again that you weren’t a baby anymore. You were figuring the world out in ways that sometimes took me by surprise. You were learning how to spare someone’s feelings by pretending to like something or how hurtful words can be when you got in trouble at school for a drawing about a classmate. As much as I wanted to shield you from the tougher parts of life, it was something you had to start experiencing. But that didn’t make it any easier for us to watch.
When you were six, you were questioning the world around you and calling BS on things that just weren’t right. Always, always speak your mind about things that seek to belittle or diminish the value of others. Even if it’s something as simple as pretending there wasn’t a girl in a hit cartoon movie.
When you were six, you held your mother and father’s hearts in your hands and we said a prayer of thanks every day that we were blessed enough with the gift of you, our one-of-a-kind girl.