Monday, January 27, 2014


Hey beauty girl,

Yesterday you turned eight. Eight! You know this, of course, because you've been talking about it for weeks. You woke up smiling and fell asleep smiling. I think you know how wonderful eight will be, but even more, I think you realize what a powerful year seven was. You found your confidence this year, your public voice. You've always had verve but you used to tuck it in your pocket at the threshold, hide it under your tongue, face the world mute and meek. Those days are gone, because you are here. And how lucky we all are for your transformation, Sweets, because you are amazing.

You want to be a writer. You have a dozen different notebooks bedside and strewn across your desk. You're an incorrigible reader (the best kind, of course, even as I find myself explaining all kinds of things). We have a deal: you may read any thing as long as you promise to ask all the questions it raises. Oh, girl, have we been talking. I value this, both because I have learned just how much I can say without breaking eye contact and because I am glimpsing the depths of your curiosity. I have a working theory that curiosity is the best path to the kind of success in life that is accompanied by personal satisfaction. You're gonna be okay, kid. You're going to turn out just great.

You're growing up beautifully, and I find myself wanting to say less and less about that here because I never want to betray your right to privacy. But what's delightful is that you're emailing now, and while I might tell fewer of your stories here I now love to email you during the day when something makes me think of you, and instead of my one-perspective summary at the end of a story, you and I build discourse together. You're just a delight, is what I'm saying, and I treasure our correspondence.

This year: you're nose-in-your-Kindle. You're taking art and gymnastics. You're diving into the deep end of the pool. You're in advanced math and you wrote a seventeen-page essay on Jane Goodall and you just turned in your science fair project, this study you constructed on paper towel absorption, and your science teacher told you she's going to have to switch her brand loyalty. You have decided you're going to Rookie Camp, a three-night jaunt at the summer sleep-away camp a lot of kids from your school attend. You invited more friends to your birthday party than are allowed in the room, and they all came, because you're very loved. My shy little girl who wouldn't speak in kindergarten has birthday-party-worthy friends in all four second-grade classes, friends from Brownies and dance club and every activity that exists, because if it's offered, you want to be there. And kids from three other schools celebrated with you, too, because you have a gift for true friendship, and your old friends are still your now-friends. It it evidence of your good heart. Always share your heart; look how doing so repays you so abundantly.

[Things I made for your birthday: a purple twirly dress and a purple rainbow cake. Birthdays require craftiness and purple. Actually, according to you, pretty much everything requires craftiness and purple. I can't much argue.]

You are energized and focused and determined and tenacious. You are smart and clever and beautiful. You're incessant and exhausting. You have an explosive laugh, unhampered joy like a volcano, explosive and forceful and sudden and gushing. Fiery. Glowing. You're exquisite.

Happy birthday, Sweeto. I love you and I'm so proud of all your growing-up-ness. Keep up that good work. Show us all just what you can be.


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