Oh my beloved Serena! Here it is 10 days past your birthday and I am just now coming back to the blog to write your birthday letter. Happily for me you can’t read yet; I have a bit of a grace period here.
I’ve spent these 10 days playing with your amazing five-year-old self. Some at home, and some up in the woods of Maine with your friends Natalie and Romana and all their attendant adults.
Your birthday we celebrated in a quiet way with a trip to the beach; you found a perfect crab shell and I got a sunburn. Then we came home for cake and gifts with a few friends and your beloved Nana. I tried to throw you a big party but you were having none of it this year. I think you were kind of mimicking your sister, who hates big parties. But that’s OK; she’s your big sister. I think it’s kind of your lot in life to follow in her footsteps.
Which is not to say that you’re just like her at all. You’re your own self, all the way. This year saw you finishing preschool and getting ready for kindergarten. You’re learning to read and write now on your own steam, with a tenacity that surprises me. You love to draw, and will spend hours carefully crafting pictures in a way that surprises all the adults around you. You’re so careful and focused, far beyond what is usual in a kid your age.
You’re also so wonderfully clear. You know what you want and you tell me.
And funny! I imagine you reading this ages and ages hence as an adult, and I wonder if you’ll recall what a clown you were. Since you were a little baby, really, but especially now. You’re constantly making jokes with your voice and with your body. Yesterday you chased me around the house saying, “I am a book zombie!” until I sat down to read you a story.
You’re getting so big, it’s hard to see your sweet baby self in there anymore, and yet you’ll always be my baby. Sometimes I worry that I baby you too much (I probably do). You know you’re a cutie pants too: sometimes you literally bat your eyes at me when you want something, and I’m ashamed to say it works.
Four was a pretty blissful year for you. I think your biggest challenge was adapting to being at a big kid school, and you wound up loving it. You made an amazing friend in Tristan, and had some of the best teachers I’ve ever met. You grew and played and whined and cried and laughed and did all the things a healthy, happy four-year-old does.
For the coming year, you’ve got some big things ahead. You’ll be starting kindergarten, heading into public school for the first time. If you keep up your current pace, you’ll be totally reading by the next time your birthday rolls around. I expect you’ll do some other big things in the coming year: ride a bike, swim, write letters to friends, sleep in the top bunk at camp, catch a fish.
Here are some birthday wishes for you, then, my little adventurer:
- May the Spooky Things never trouble you again.
- May you be as fearless and fierce as you want to be, and also unafraid to be scared and ask for help when you want it.
- May kindergarten be a joy, full of friendship, discovery and growth.
- May you wander ever deeper into the things you love: making art, reading books, playing with friends.
I’m looking forward to doing a lot of holding you in this coming year, the last year of small girlhood before you fly off to the Age Of Reason. And I’m looking forward to doing a whole lot of letting you grow.