Dear Claire, stop growing, and Happy Birthday
Last week you asked me, again, how old I am. When I said 27, I felt young. When you said, “I’m going to be five next week,” I suddenly felt old.
When you measure the life of someone by months for two years, and then halves, time goes by so quickly.
And while I sit here and wonder where the time has gone, I realize that the time hasn’t gone anywhere. I’m surrounded by your paintings, your drawings, your photos, your memories. You and who you are surround me every day, and what’s funny is that who you are now is exactly who you were when we first met you.
You are so very smart. While it may have taken some time, you read through your first real book, “The Cat in the Hat.” Patience hasn’t come easy to you, but you also aren’t a quitter and so while we have the occasional freak out, you know when to say when.
Here’s how you’ve been patient:
Eye patching. What four year old would think this is fun? In the beginning, you had to wear that patch for an hour every day along with your glasses. But as your eye has strengthened, you’ve been able to decrease it. And because you’re you, you do it. I would say that the amount of times you’ve complained about wearing it, I could count on one hand.
Taekwondo. While you are the least likely of my children to actually need discipline, you’ve embraced the need for structure. You’re a fantastic listener and of course you’re naturally athletic like your dad, so the skills are relatively simple for you. In the beginning, you would rarely speak up, didn’t want to talk to the other kids and had a bit of a shy streak. Not any more. With you being one of the higher ranks, you take on the responsibility of leadership, and that, my dear is a wonderful thing.
Reading. You’ve learned how to read! You understand the basic concept and you plow through it even when you start to give me the LOOK and the sigh. If I say, “Alright, want to take a break?” you look at me like I just threw Staalsie out the car window. Of course you don’t want to take a break. You’re Claire. It ain’t over ’til it’s over.
Your brother. It’s rare to find you two not within ten feet of each other. Most days are just fine where you two laugh and play and rough house. All the normal things that brothers and sisters do. However, over time, you’ve learned how to tell Luca if something he said hurt your feelings, or even made you cry. And more importantly, you’ve learned to tell him no. Little brothers can be so annoying, but then again, so can big sisters.
Your sister. That is a skill. I am pretty sure to Auntie Carly, I was the most annoying creature in the whole world. Little sisters are like that. But you know what? Auntie is my best friend, and I’m pretty sure you and Mae are on the right track to be the same. You truly enjoy her company nine times out of ten and when you don’t, you just go to your room. I’ve watched you go from wanting to make her stop crying, to being her friend and teaching her what’s right and wrong.
There are times where you are absolutely ridiculous and I have to walk away and even laugh because of the flopping on the floor, but then there is the majority of the time where you are awesome. Sweet, kind, and wonderful to be around. You have a sense of responsibility, something that simply can’t be taught. You understand the meaning of ‘treat others how you’d like to be treated.’ You often speak up for what is right. You really, truly are a good kid, there’s no denying that. I’d like to think that some of it is because of awesome parenting, but in my heart I know that you are just a sweet kid by nature.
There are days when I look at you and I can’t get over how much you remind me of myself. The questions you ask, the looks you give, even the way you brush off negativity. And then there’s times where you’re just as stubborn as the day is long and then I realize you’re also half your dad.
You are absolutely beautiful, Claire. Inside and out. There’s no denying that. And even though you’re only five, you’re exactly what I had hoped for. You’re everything that your father and I am, and even the things we’re not. You’re quiet when you need to be but you tend to not hold things in. You’re willing to learn and to change to be the best person you can be. You’re respectful and kind and you make me so very proud.
You truly don’t know how to intentionally be mean. And you’re willing to speak up when someone is being mean or bullied to another person, even if it’s not you or your siblings.
Claire. You’re five. FIVE! And while I know that you’re going to keep growing and some day you’re going to be fifty, I’m enjoy the fact that right now you’re a little kid with a big heart. You’re still taking your time to learn and grow and be the best Claire you can be.
Someday when you’re not living here any more and you’re questioning your decisions in life and you feel lost, please remember this: You’ve always known the way. You’ve always known what the right thing to do was. I’m not sure how many little kids know how to do that. And if you continue down the path you’re on, you’re going to do just fine. Just trust yourself and believe in yourself and always know that I’m here for you. Forever.
I love you.