I have thought of this letter often in the many months that have happened since your 6th birthday. I have thought of it on major milestones: A Letter From Your Mother on the First Day of First Grade; A Letter From Your Mother on Losing Your First Tooth (and Second!) A Letter From Your Mother at 6 and a Quarter and a wee bit. Where has this year gone?
Here's where I kind of messed this up: These letters are supposed to be snapshots in time to chart your growth and development, and of course the "moment in time" I chose is your annual birthday. You have grown and changed so, so, so much since you turned six last July. But also, you are who you are.
The way I was planning to start your letter back then holds true today: You are an artist. Over the years I have come to understand that artists are not simply (necesarrily) people who make art. Artists tend to see the world differently. You have your own lens and I am always surprised by the questions you ask, the things you notice and observe, the connections you make. Your mind is always going, and there is something magical in your processing; I sometimes wonder if it has to do with your eyesight and how you literally see the world, the transformation from blur and color when you put your glasses on and shapes become things. t's not just visual, though. When you play the piano, you are as much about dynamics as you are notes, and I swear you are aiming for the musical, the feel of a song, not the technical. You sway when you plan. You dance around the kitchen with ballet arms. You put together the MOST amazing outfits. You make paint out of chalk.
I would say you also have an artistic temperament, which, as I say this and know it means fiery, it means emotional, it means unpredictable, the term doesn't seem completely fair to artists as a group, does it? But you, my dear, are these things. Fiery. Emotional. Unpredictable. It's mostly that your emotions can turn on a dime. You will be quietly playing on the floor for hours, and a small disturbance may send you into a brief and inexplicable rage. (I fear that, in this way, you are so my child.) You often feel wronged. Putting your shoes on before you are ready is such a burden. Lots is not fair. Your new thing is cracking your teeth when you are sad or angry or frustrated or stressed. It drives daddy crazy. I looked it up and saw some horrible pictures of baby teeth ground down, together with assurances that 6 year olds do this, that you should grow out of it, that there's no real harm done. We'll see. Do you know you used to gnaw on the spines of board book? That you chewed up your crib? (Surely you do: it must be in one of these letters.)
School has been a roller coaster this year. You were excited to start first grade. (We always have such trepidation about transition for you, and ultimately you do fine when you know what's coming. At dance at the beginning of this year, you were shocked to discover that your class was not all the ame students and the same teacher as last year. The first class you sat behind me. The second, you sat in the room on your own. But the third week, you participated, and now you are one of the best students. You listen. You do as you are asked. You remember the counting and the steps. I digress.) You were excited to start first grade, but your classroom was a challenging one. This winter, for the first time, we heard cried from you that you hated school. You were sick a lot, too, which probably didn't help. You missed quite a bit of school. But now! Now you come home just bubbling over with words for all you want to share. You just talk and talk and talk, which is kind of a new things for you. You are being invited to second year lessons, and you LOVE being part of things with the older kids. The class you are in this year is a new class, and it is transitional--K, 1, 2--and I believe you were placed there to be a leader in your quiet way. You lead by example, and in the classroom you do your work, you focus, and you share your experiences with others.
I'm trying to think back to who you were last summer. For your birthday party, we planned to paint our own pottery with you friends, but your July birthday is a challenge and no one could come! So we made it a family party and it was mostly adults in the pottery studio. Papa painted a frog. Nonny made an ugly mug. Daddy made our butter dish (I wonder if we will still have it when you read this?) You got to paint two things, because you were the birthday girl. You chose a dragon first, and then a small cross. You had recently attended Church Camp and you were interested in God. On your actual birthday we had some friends from school over to our house, and painted flower pots and played games. Your streak of designing your own birthday cake continued, and you insisted on six layers and peppermint frosting. In this, your dad obliged you.
Your wish list included lots of My Little Pony and Our Generation doll accessories. We got you a huge set of magna tiles and I swear, we could do away with everything but those (and the set of small rubber animals), and you could still play for hours. You are more into TV and computer games. Your favorite at the start of the year was My Little Pony Friendship is Magic. Now you love Wild Kratts, Magic School bus, and (ugh!) Ever After High. You love reading graphic novels.
Eleri, it's 6 am (Clio woke me before 5), and I am so glad I finally sat down and wrote this letter. Please know that while it took a long time to get it down, it was not an after thought. I am thinking about you, who you are, how you are growing, all the time. I love watching you grow and change. I am always so surprised by you, and I love the things you point out to me, the things I am too busy to see, or that are simply not evident to me in the world as I look at it. I look forward to glimpsing the magic of your world, of learning from you, every day, always.
I love you,