Today (well, yesterday) you are five years old. I guess I'll start this letter out by admitting that a year ago, you turned four, and I didn't write you a letter. Sorry about that. I blame you and your sister, for making our lives so busy and so full. Hopefully this lengthy letter will help make up for it.
I'm a bit at a loss for words tonight. You are five?! This is hard for me, and I hope someday when you read this, you can understand why. Five means you're not a baby anymore. You're not a toddler anymore, and you're almost not even a preschooler anymore. You're a full-blown kid. You keep changing, and yet you remain the same. You are you, and you just continue becoming more YOU as time goes on. This year, you are even smarter, braver, kinder, funnier, crazier, and brighter than you were before. You have so much spirit and enthusiasm. Your inquisitiveness and energy exhaust me, but they also give me a reason to smile each day.
You have a thirst for learning that seems to grow all the time. You love to write letters and are always asking us to spell words and names for you. You take a notebook and pen with you almost everywhere, so you can draw pictures and write words and numbers. Sometimes you write down all 26 letters of the alphabet (both uppercase and lowercase) and numbers 1-100, just for fun. Your teachers tell us that your writing and vocabulary are exemplary, and that they expect you'll be reading on your own very soon. You're thriving in 4K this year, and easily surpassed all of the end-of-year benchmarks on the school district assessments just two months into the school year. Unfortunately, you've inherited my perfectionism and tend to get easily upset and frustrated when you can't perform flawlessly on your first try. You are thrilled when you succeed, but you take failure to heart. I am hoping that you can learn to focus on the process of achieving results, rather than the results themselves, but to be honest... I've never had much luck with that myself, either.
I am so proud of your academic efforts, but even more proud of your generous spirit. You have always been social and extroverted, and these traits are enhanced by the genuine pleasure you take in interacting with other people. You say hi to strangers on the street (literally). You make friends everywhere you go and have a way of endearing people to you. You continue to be an amazing big sister to Avery, including her in your play and going out of your way to make her laugh. You LOVE your friends and go out of your way to acknowledge them individually. This year, we're having your very first "friend" birthday party, and you insisted on inviting every girl in your class, because you didn't want to leave anyone out. Your 4K teacher recently told me that all the kids in your class think of themselves as your special friend, because you make everyone feel so special. I admire your social exuberance so much, especially because it's grounded in love and affection for those around you.
You are sensitive and passionate, which means there's never a dull moment in our home. You and your sister have begun arguing and fighting over toys and privileges more and more, and her indifference only adds fuel to your fire. You are quick to run off to your room in a fit of rage or tears, often for the smallest infraction: You wanted the purple cup instead of the pink cup. You couldn't brush through your Barbie doll's hair. Avery hit you and didn't say sorry. You get the idea. Your fuse is short and your heart is big, creating an explosive combination.
Here are some of your favorite things right now: books, jewelry and accessories, anything Frozen, Barbie dolls, superheroes, princesses, make-up, monkey bars, wrestling and chasing your dad, dancing, ice cream, bedtime stories, pancakes on Saturday mornings, organizing your toys and trinkets, hide and seek, shoes, playing with my iphone, drawing, writing, arts and crafts, playing with your friends, singing, rhyming, going to plays and movies, picking out your own outfits (always bright, always a skirt/dress, and usually a top/bottom combination with competing patterns and colors), ordering your sister around, and being a goofball. You love excitement and adventure. You went through a six-month phase this year where I would pick you up from school every day and you would ask, "What are we doing today? Are we going on an adventure?" Some things you dislike: Brussels sprouts, sitting still (you haven't sat in your chair for an entire meal since you were in a high chair), matching clothes, listening to NPR in the car ("Can you turn on MY music, please?"), fighting for people's attention, sharing your toys with Avery, and conversation that doesn't involve you.
You love being part of the action and hate to be left out of it. You are sweet and compassionate and tenacious. You are courageous and kind. You are strong and curious and engaging. All the adjectives in the world couldn't describe everything you are and everything you mean to me. I love you more than I could ever express. Happy birthday, Marla Rae.