Friday, January 10, 2014

Love Letters

Dear Em,
"Thank heaven for little girls
For little girls get bigger every day!
Thank heaven for little girls
They grow up in the most delightful way!"
- Perry Como's Thank Heaven for Little Girls

During our two week break, we celebrated another big milestone. You turned four! You're four, & I can't quite believe how quickly that happened. On the morning of your birthday, Daddy & I were laying in bed thinking about you & the past four years. "Right about now, four years ago, we were heading to the hospital," Daddy pointed out. It was kind of surreal to think about it that way- to think about how at that moment four years earlier we only had dreams & anticipation of who you were going to be.

Now you're a bouncy, giggly, smart, twirling, headstrong, creative, energized, bubbly, dancing, glittery, bounding, loving, imaginative, sweet, amazing little four year old. I say the word little loosely. We recently went to your pediatrician. You're in the 94th percentile for height. I swear soon enough you're going to be off the charts. It blows my mind that at the beginning of this school year, your new jeans were so long we had to roll them up, but, already, they fit perfectly. 

Your pediatrician said something at your visit that really hit me hard. He said that the sometimes unfortunate thing for tall kids at your age, is that you look older than you are. Because of that, people will expect more from you. I thought about it. It was true. I've seen it from some of your teachers, from some of our friends & family, & I know I'm guilty of it too. It broke my heart for you a little bit.

I'm going to try to be better about reminding myself that you're just four. I'm going to try to be better about reminding myself that every behavioral challenge is not a sign that I'm a failure as a mother. It's just you being four. I'm going to try to be better about telling myself that almost never sitting still, occasional tantrums, yelling "No," some attitude, & struggling through dinner is typical four year old behavior. I'm going to try to remind myself to be better about enjoying this stage without looking back with longing or looking ahead with hope (although, we really do hope that you lose the 13-year old attitude you've already started to develop). Right now you're just four. You'll never be just four ever again.

So, here's a little bit about you in this very four year old moment...

Favorite food: Olives
Favorite thing to do: Make Crafts
Favorite thing to play: American Girl Dolls
Outside or inside: Outside
Favorite thing to do outside: Play in the Snow
What do you want to be when you grow up? A Ballerina Princess
Favorite book: Anything Fancy Nancy
Favorite song: Cups Song
Favorite color: Pink & Purple
Favorite TV show: Charlie & Lola
Favorite movies: Sofia the First

You've really started to read & write these past six months. Sometimes you get frustrated when you can't do things perfectly the first time, but you're amazing even yourself at the bigger & bigger words you're sounding out. You have such a love for learning right now, & that makes my heart so happy. You teach us something new every day & amaze us with some of the things that you say.

You love your friends & family with your whole heart, & nothing makes me you happier than time spent with them. To you, sitting down to play a game or read a book or taking a trip to the park is the greatest gift. It breaks your heart when the people you love are sad, & you'll do anything to help put a smile back on someone's face (gasp, even if sometimes that means sharing your favorite things).

You tried organized activities for the first time over these past few months. While soccer wasn't your very favorite, you learned a lot & had so much fun. You bounced your way through gymnastics, & we watched your body grow stronger & surer as you learned new things.

We had so much fun celebrating four year old you this year. First we celebrated with my family & a Hello Kitty cake (which you requested) in North Carolina.

We came home in time for your actual birthday. Daddy & I (well mostly I) couldn't wait to surprise you with a visit to the American Girl store in Boston. We planned to let you pick out one item from the store before sitting down for lunch with your doll at their cafe. Unfortunately I didn't make a reservation, & the place was PACKED. There was an hour & a half wait for lunch, & you were already starving. Whoops.

You were still thrilled to pick out one thing from the store. You walked us through every aisle of the huge, double floor store twice, intently scanning each item before making your choice. You picked out a dog for your doll (which you wanted to name Hello Kitty, but then decided that was a funny name for a dog & named her Dora, after Dora the Explorer) & a dog carrier. Would it have been my choice? Nope, for sure not. You have a million stuffed animals, & I didn't real feel like we needed another. But I think part of the appeal of being four is being able to make some of your own choices, & you were thrilled with your choice.

Then we headed across the street for lunch at Panera Bread & dessert at Orange Leaf. I have to say, you were just as happy as you would have been eating at the American Girl Cafe (probably happier, because I wasn't sure there was something on the American Girl menu that you would eat).

A couple days after your birthday, we got to celebrate again with Grandma & Papa. They gifted you real ballerina leotards & skirts for the ballet/tap class that you've started. You couldn't wait to put them on & perform for us. You are so thrilled to be a "real ballerina."

You went back to school the next day & were excited to celebrate being four with your teachers & classmates. We brought an owl donut cake for you to share with all your little friends. On the way to school that day you had told me, "well, you know mom, I'm not just a princess, & I'm not just a ballerina. I'm a princess-ballerina." When we got to school you were beyond surprised & thrilled to find a sign on the door with pictures of you as a princess & a ballerina. "How did they know?!" you bubbled with excitement, the biggest smile spread wide across your face.

I love you so, my four year old princess-ballerina. Thank you for the very best (& most challenging) four years of my life. I truly think that you make me a better person. I love you at four years old so much I feel as though my heart might burst. Can we just take our time & be four for a little while.?I know all too soon you'll be telling me you're four & a half, & then we'll be celebrating five. I would love to just slow down & enjoy four for a good, long while. What do you think?

I love you so,

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