You'll turn six as the sun rises tomorrow. What a thing to contemplate, this Six.
You were bald forever, you know, do you remember? From pictures, Love-love, do you remember how long you were bald? And now your hair reaches to your waist. Sometimes, I wish you'd want to keep it short, like your sister, because oh.my.goodness the knots and the brushing and the braiding and the one pony tail or two, the side-pony and the half-up and the did you put the purple band on the left side or the right?
But you're so proud; you feel fancy. And then we see someone who's known you forever and they say, every time, "look at all that hair!" because they remember when you hadn't any, and when you told everyone you'd grow it until it could tuck into your shoes. Now you only want to grow it to your knees, and that's because you're a little bit turning into a rational creature, and no wonder, since you're almost Six.
There is a boy at school who wants to marry you. Every time I see him he tells me that I have ten hours to get ready for the wedding. He points to my Nikon, puts his arm around you, and says, "take a picture of me with my wife!" And you giggle, and pose for a picture, one I now must take.
Maybe you giggle because of the pride in his voice as he hugs you. Maybe your giggle is for this boy. Maybe it's just because it feels good to be so comfortable at your new school after Five and all the changes Five brought.
You're not thinking about boys, really, except to tell me that you're not getting married. But if you do, you have the whole wedding planned out, and don't worry, Mama, because you're never leaving me. He can just move into the house with us because I'm staying with you forever.
And you say that and I squeeze your shoulder, much like that boy does, and I say "you might have other ideas one day, you know, but you will always have a place here with us for as long as you need one." And you hear what you need to hear from that and I've said what I need to say in that. I don't know what you dream when we hug. I dream that when Then happens, which is, don't worry, many years past Six, you'll mostly want to go meet the world and leave your mama.
It will always be okay if part of you wants to stay a little bit. But be a dream chaser, Booshk. One day. When you're ready.
I will tell you this: I will never tease you about your dreams. And I will never tease you about boys, either, not even cute-goofy ones who think a girl as fancy as you could throw together a wedding in ten hours.
Although, for what it's worth (which is just a sliver above nothing), for the record-for posterity-for cementing that new key of giggle in my mind: this boy is cute. And I have the pictures for you to prove it, although now you're old enough to remember things in your own mind, now that you're Six.
Last year, when we talked about how Five is a bridge between big-little kid and small-big kid, we could only imagine the you of today. Let me point out, Love-love, the you of today is one awesome chick. The hardest thing of this year was leaving your preschool home and moving to kindergarten but girl, you've conquered that transition. Your teachers love you. You have a whole crew of sweet new friends. You're learning and reading and spelling and speaking in a second language. You rock the kindergarten house, sweet girl. You can see yourself in a new context, asking questions about first grade and middle school and driving. You understand that you're at the beginning of a new long road, and that it will challenge you and fascinate you and take you many wonderful places.
You lost your first baby teeth this year. You started to try new foods after years of refusing new anything. (You still haven't liked any new foods, but I'm so delighted you'll try things again.) You've explored forming your own worldly opinions and drawing independent conclusions. You are a thinker.
Last week you said to me:
you know why we need our eyes? Because our brains are filled with little boxes. And every box holds another idea. We have so many ideas that we could never organize them all without a system. So we draw pictures on the boxes. Those pictures are the things we see with our eyes that remind us of the ideas. I need to see because I have so many ideas and I never want to lose any of them!
Reach, baby. We spent so long planning for the end of Five. Tomorrow you say goodbye to all of that. Six is a new story for you to write. You can do anything. You and your many ideas and your compassionate, colorful, sensitive, broad-thinking viewpoints: you are going to change the world.
I don't know how you're going to do that, Love-love, and I know it frustrates you to hear open-ended positive thoughts without the foundational hows underpinning them. But you've left behind the little-kid world of questions that come with straight answers. And why stick to straight lines when you can frame your world in curclicues and smiling hearts and rainbow curves and fairytale ribbons?
You're the luckiest person in the world tomorrow, because you're Six and can mold the whole world to your touch. But I'm the second-luckiest, because I get the pleasure of watching you do it.
Happy birthday, Booshkin Boo. I love you all the way to forever.