You turned 5 today. You are officially a big girl, school-aged, five. Even though I can hardly believe that you're not a baby sometimes, all I have to do is watch and listen to you just for a few minutes to see how grown you are. Your limbs are long, lean, and ever capable of the climbing, running, and jumping of 5-year-old splendor. Your little face, though still resembling the little baby I remember--the one I see when I close my eyes-- has lost its chubbiness and looks at me with deep intent--and sometimes serious attitude. Your voice, though still tiny, has more authority and purpose than ever, always recounting stories to the last detail, or asking the questions I would never consider.
You are kind and funny, serious and brilliant. Your ability to forgive and skip along through tough days is both inspiring and bewildering to me. How can you be so serious and so happy at the same time? Your openness with emotions and willingness to feel, really feel your own sadness, exhaustion, and frustration is not only my biggest struggle with you, but also something that I deeply admire in you.
Wouldn't we all move on easier if we could just crumble into a puddle of tears every once in a while?
As I watch you grow, I am increasingly impressed by and proud of you. I enjoy you more than ever, with our morning cuddle sessions, reading chapter books together, or singing in the car. Well, okay, only I sing in the car. You know all the words to your favorite songs, but refuse to sing out loud. I know that you're bubbly and fun and loving and social . . . but that your default is reserved, shy, modest, and careful. I wish you knew how much I can relate--and how much I hope you never try to change or apologize for this part of yourself.
You are breathtakingly beautiful . . . and don't care a single bit. You'd prefer short, easy hair to the long, flowy hair you associate with princesses. You take pride in putting together the funkiest outfits without a concern over conformity or acceptance.
Please don't let anyone change this about you.
Amelia, this year is going to be one of the biggest years of your life. Why? Because you are going to learn to read. You will be able to flip through your stories alone, saying the words instead of making up your own with the pictures. You will be able to pick up a new book and transport yourself into another world with exciting friends and to amazing places . . . and feel unbelievable connection to the pages you flip. I know this will transform you to the core of your existence. You are flowing with the imagination and curiosity and drama and desire of a voracious reader and I am beside myself waiting for you to experience the magic first hand. I know we'll lose you forever after to your books, but that's okay. We'll have so much to talk about too. I can hardly wait to share reading with you.
My favorite moment at your birthday party yesterday was when I looked over at you, surrounded by the chaos of 15 kids and their parents at a splash pool, and you were sitting on the concrete, alone, quietly reading a book from your friend. Totally oblivious to the party, your party happening around you, studying the pages intently, quietly. It made me smile because it was so you. You love your friends and had a blast at your party, but would be choose a warm spot on the patio with a book any day. And you don't even read yet. You of course had that Wonder Woman book memorized by the time you got home. So you.
I love how carefully studious and observant you are. I hate it too. When we 'borrowed' a couple of the gift bags from your party for your birthday presents this morning, the first thing you said, "these bags are from my birthday party!" I didn't even know that you'd noticed the bags! But of course you did. Because the reality is, Amelia dear, that you notice everything. You've been able to give direction to your favorite places since you were 2. You memorize puzzle pieces and entire movie scenes. You always know where my keys are. Or when I try to hide something. And when it seems like maybe something gets by you, you've cataloged it, thinking it over, only to bring it up later. Sometimes I swear I can see you storing information, processing. It's scary and impressive and crazy, annoying and awesome too.
From two pacifist, animal-loving parents, it's totally perplexing how much you like to kill things. When I explained what it's like to go fishing, your dad and I told you that you can release the fish back into the lake or eat it. You chose the latter option. So that scenario backfired. For such a sensitive, sweet little love, you are completely fascinated by dead things--little creatures from the yard, or scary, bloody zombies. Maybe this is weird, but I kinda love your little dark side. I love that you love to be scared and are drawn to creepy things without fear. Of course, it's hilarious considering how fearful you tend to be otherwise.
I love that you're a mixed bag. So tough and strong physically and without a competitive bone in your body. How easily you get hurt, but how easily you forgive. I love that you cry from the tiniest scratch on a knee but take the doctor's shots without blinking, insisting on watching the needle. I adore how loving and cuddly you've become but how independent you are too. I love that you have a huge sweet tooth for dessert "gessert" but that fruit disappears from your plate first at every meal. I can't help but giggle when you use grown up words and sentiments with child-like innocence.
Nothing makes my heart sing more than watching you as a sister. I'm convinced that you are the best big sister ever a baby sister could have. I've caught you protecting her on the playground, holding her during the sad scene of the movie, and sharing your birthday presents. I love that the only thing that can end our morning snuggles is Annie waking up--because as soon as you hear her, you run to her room. Every. Single. Morning. I melt watching you introduce her to your school friends or random kids at the park. You're such a proud, loving sister. You use kind words with her, help her with your shoes, and give her hugs when she cries. I can't help but think that your baby sister Annie is so lucky to be guided by you. We should all be so lucky to have a big sister like you, Amelia.
You really are an awesome girl.
You are my all-time favorite little kid. You are my light, Bug. You are my greatest lesson. You are my heart and you are my soul. And when it finally hit me that you were turning 5, I slid to the floor of the shower and cried big, sobbing, ugly tears. I think we are closer than ever now that you are such a big girl and I think you've gotten more fantastic each year and I look so forward to the changes in store for you this year. . . I really do, baby. But you know what? It just hurts sometimes. I don't want you to stay little forever and I can't wait to watch you grow, but I will still miss the littler you.
Happy Birthday sweet angel. I love you so. . . even if it hurts sometimes.