It’s your birthday, girlfriend. And what does that mean? You are somewhere between baby bird and elementary school star, at least in your mama’s eyes. Today you hiked and ran for hours on trail through the woods, but you also wished I could carry you on my back. These days I can only transport you piggy-back style from your bed, across your small bedroom and landing, and down two short flights of stairs before I slide you off of my back.
In our yearly holiday letter I told people it’s been a year year. And it has been, but in the luckiest of ways from from this vantage point. See, my girl, last Christmas break I was so relieved to be on hiatus from your learning disability journey. We were right at the very beginning and my worries about the road ahead were staggering. But now, we are here, and this 17-day school vacation has been almost all pure pleasure. Yes, it’s because we lack the normal routine. We stay up late and sleep in later; filling our days with the things we like to do best. Yes, it’s a much needed escape from your 6 weekly tutoring sessions. But more than that, my mind is mostly free of those worries that weighed me down then. This break is crisp and clean. You are learning. You, incredibly enough, know a few sight words, most of the letters of the alphabet and almost all the sounds. You can sometimes traipse the monkey bars. Your words are almost always understandable by the people around you. But more importantly I can tell you are happy. I didn’t realize how sad you were last year until your entire demeanor changed this fall. You tell me you have 5 best friends in kindergarten. There will be 7 other girls at your birthday party tomorrow. You shine, brightly.
Girl, you are 7. I no longer spend time wondering if the developmental test that placed you at age 3 last year is right. You aren’t 3 in any way, shape or form. You are my funny sweet valentine who is forever pledging your love to me, and I wonder at the depth of our connection. Last night after I got slightly riled up, you held my chin in hand and told me to “Calm down” in the kindest voice. And Chris, KK and I laughed as I dubbed you my “Zen master.” Just over a year or so ago you always told me to “Be kind” when my tone of voice became stern. Now your new turn of phrase fits my skinny-boned, tall, brown-haired, brown-eyed beauty. Welcome to age 7, Zen master Elizabeth Ann.