Happy birthday to you, my amazing 8-year-old! Right now you’re stretched out on a futon, fast asleep in the Brooklyn apartment we’re using for our week-long NYC vacation. You’re exhausted but satisfied after birthday adventures – primarily seeing Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.
You’ve been listening to the songs for months, even requesting viola sheet music and working so hard to play Music of the Night. Today when the opening notes of that song rang out in the Majestic Theater, you jumped up and down in your seat and clapped your hands with a look on your face like you might burst with excitement.
It has been a spectacular birthday, and I have loved sharing it with you on this trip. Your birthday always finds me reflecting on the kind of person you are right now, at this milestone. Here are some reflections I’ve had over the past few days, preparing for this birthday letter.
You’re eight years old, and you’re happy and fun-loving. You’re affectionate and kind. You love to swim and love to travel. You love being with friends, but you hate staying up late.
Yeah, about that. We’ve always kept a consistent bedtime, but I imagined as you grew older it would be easier to bend the rules a bit. Or at least I assumed so. But you HATE staying up late. You get anxious, and start complaining, “I’m going to be soooo tired tomorrow!” What kid says things like that? During sleepovers, you’re usually the first (and only?) to beg for bedtime. I’ve heard you in a room with other non-sleepers, trying to persuade them to play the “quiet game” so you can go to sleep.”Ok everybody!” you announce. “One-Two-Three-QUIET!”
One time, as a sleepover began to get rowdy, I marched in and made what I thought was a threat. “If you all can’t go to sleep, I’m going to have to split you into different beds.”
“Oh please mama!” you said. “Will you?”
Recently I’ve had a chance to delve into your own self-reflections a bit. At the end of the school year, your backpack came home stuffed with the notebooks and journals you’d kept throughout the year.
The notebooks were full of gems, like the fun story you wrote called “Camille and the Dragon,” in which you and the dragon Blood Wing defeat the evil sorcerer from Mexico. “Blood Wing blew his fire fast and Camille stabbed him in the stomach! Then they put the sorcerer in the ground and covered him with acorns and he grew into an oak tree. Then they went off on another adventure!”
There were other nuggets, like the page entitled “BFF Secrets” in which you penned, “I like Draco Malfoy” and drew a heart over his name.
And this declaration:
“Kloe is my best freind. We are warewolevs.”
During the last week of school, your teacher assigned each of you a packet of paperwork called “My End of the Year Book.” It had pages prompting you to describe your year, your teacher, your friends.
You said very nice things about two of your buddies, and the third one got this lukewarm description:
“She is a little talkative but otherwise a best friend forever.”
On the page about your future, this:
“In my future I will be a marine biologist. I will take care of dolphins. It will be aswome.”
And I loved what you drew for your favorite summer memory (it’s one of mine, too):
And there was a page all about you. So today, as you turn eight years old, here’s what you have to say about you:
My favorite book: Matilda
My favorite author: Mo Willems
My favorite school subject: Science
My Favorite Song: Let It Go
My favorite musician: Myself
My favorite teacher: Ms. Jen
My favorite sport: Gymnastics
My favorite activity: Viola
My favorite thing to talk to my friends about is: Work and fun stuff
My favorite candy: M&Ms and Jelly Beans
My favorite food: Macaroni and Cheese Pizza
My favorite place to shop: Target
My favorite TV show: Teen Titans
My favorite movie: Totoro
My favorite actor/actress: Taylor Rigsbee (a classmate)
My favorite color: Purple
My amazing girl. My sweet and super 8 year old. You are loved more than you can know. Happy birthday to you – I’m so glad you came into our lives.