Saturday, February 16, 2008
This week I'm writing to my girls, first a letter to Ashlyn, our youngest by 5 minutes, then a letter to Melía, her twin sister. Now it's time for the big 4-year-old.
From the blood and afterbirth, your beautiful face emerged and changed my name to "Daddy." A few minutes of cleaning later and you were in my arms staring up at me, clear-eyed and trusting, shell-shocked but at peace. You had me.
It didn't take long for us to see that you are a child who knows what she wants and assertively pursues it. Your will is strong, you "begin with the end in mind," and you are not afraid to express your preferences. At the age of a few weeks, this meant lots of screaming at odd hours for no reason apparent to us. At 18 months, it meant plenty of tantrums, time-outs and swats. But the more you mature, it is showing up as thoughtful, goal-directed behavior and increasingly reasonable negotiation.
We still have our share of conversations about the cardinal virtue of flexibility, choosing to be happy even when we don't get exactly what we want. There are still times when I remind you that you're acting picky--especially when we want you to wear pants or anything warmer than your princess dresses--but more and more you are becoming my flexible girl.
You are a born leader. Melía especially copies so much of what you do, repeating your words verbatim, requesting whatever food or clothes you're wearing, "like Brielle has." You set the tone for what your sisters are going to do. That is power; and more and more I'm trusting you to use it well.
You have a deep love for people, always excited when guests are coming over, whether you've met them or not. If you know we're going to a restaurant, you are on board as long as there's hope that friends might be there. You have always loved school, partly because it stimulates your amazing mind, but also because it's a day of being with a lot of friends.
Speaking of your amazing mind, we have never had any doubts about how bright you are. Your inquiries into ethics, theology, science and dental hygiene blow us away. You ask questions beyond your age, soak up my explanations of things like "photosynthesis" (which you can pronounce to a T), and can write down anything we spell out for you. The teacher in me delights in your curiosity and in offering answers that I hope you can understand. Sometimes your questions help me understand things with a new simplicity.
You are a princess. You want to do things right, and you want things done right. You are more fashion-conscious than I can keep up with. Function follows form in your hierarchy of needs, but your utility-oriented father hasn't given up yet on that one. You have superstar poise and charisma, knowing how to smile for the camera and put on a show for the audience.
Best of all, you are incredibly full of love. You give big hugs at random moments, snuggle during books, and tell us you love us. You make increasingly beautiful drawings--of people, houses, animals and even Martin Luther King, Jr., and then inscribe on them dedications to us. Just yesterday morning, you danced with me to James Taylor and learned the basic salsa step. Yesterday afternoon, you squeezed Ashlyn's leg and said, "I love you." At night, you say, "I love you, Daddy. Miss you till the morning."
I love you too, sweet Brie. I am so glad you are my firstborn big girl; you'll always be my baby too.