You are my daughter.
I carried you inside me…and was violently ill for weeks on end (thanks very much). You were born in an entirely civilized fashion at 9:15 on a Sunday evening and then proceeded to ignore civilized timing of pretty much anything for many months. So, perfectly normal baby really. We even had your cot in the lounge room for a while and would retreat to our bedroom of an evening so that you wouldn’t disturb your brother when it was time for bed. In the end we gave in and kicked daddy out of his study to give the two of you separate bedrooms. You convinced us to get rid of the cot and put you in a proper bed when you started climbing up over the high cot sides and plummeting to the floor at about 16 months of age. We put you on a mattress on the floor at first (because we already had one and buying a bed could wait). Good thing too, for the first week or so I’d come in most mornings to find you curled up on the floor on the other side of the room. Luckily the weather was still warm.
I sometimes joke that you are my changeling. Tiny and blonde to my big and brunette. You love dolls, I loathe them. You loved all things pink, I shuddered and refused to paint your bedroom walls pink. We went with blue and purple which you now claim as your favourite colours (phew!). You love all things Disney, again with the shudder from me. As you’ve grown older though, I find we have much in common. You’ve always loved to sing and I love sharing my favourite musicals with you. You love to dance – me too! – and I love watching you dance. We enjoy the same books, I’m so thrilled that you’re starting to want to read more. You’re well on your way to becoming a fantasy fan and I’m working on turning you into a sci-fi fan.
When I was little I wanted to be Robin Hood (ok there’s one Disney film that doesn’t make me shudder). I’m still all for dressing up and playing with bows and arrows. Seems you’re quite keen on that idea too.
I’m looking forward to the years ahead, yep, even the teenager stuff, the stuff I’m supposed to be scared of. I’m not scared, in fact I’m pretty sure we’re going to do ok negotiating the minefields of adolescence. (Please leave me in my happy delusion for as long as possible.)
From when you were very young you have shown great empathy for others. When I explained to you recently how much it would mean to the boy in your dance class who has Down Syndrome to be welcomed with a smile when it was your turn to dance with him I could see you understood. And the next week as I watched the end of your class, even though you were frustrated by being paired with someone who couldn’t get the steps quite right, I saw you smile at him and I saw his face light up.
I love you and I’m proud of you.
You are a sister.
Tom: “You’re nice. I like going on the trampoline with you. I love you.”
(They do say a picture is worth a thousand words.)
You are a granddaughter.
You bring joy to your grandparents’ lives with something as simple as a hug, a kiss, a drawing, an invitation to visit. You were the only one who thought to write Grandma a card saying how sorry you were when Grandma and Grandy decided not to live together any more, it meant a lot to her. When Grandy tells me about you giving him a goodnight kiss I can see the happiness you’ve given him. All your grandparents always come to your end of year concert to see you dance, one year Nana came even though her knee was still very sore after she broke it. Your grandparents love you very much.
You are a great-granddaughter.
When Great Grandma was in hospital you sat on the edge of her bed and played gently with her hair. She said no-one had done that for many, many years. I think she thought it was very special that you wanted to be close to her. You make her smile, she loves you.
You are a cousin.
I watched you and your cousin with your ipod when we were at the restaurant for Father’s Day. Your heads were bent over the small screen together, faces alight with the pleasure of sharing. Your cousins throw their arms around you when we meet and again when we’re going home, they love being with you.
You are a friend.
You care about your friends, things don’t always go as smoothly as they might but you’re willing to make the effort to fix things if they do go wrong. I’ve seen friends seize you in giant hugs, I’ve seen smiles of happy greetings, I’ve seen them not want to leave when it’s time to go home. And I hear you speak of them with compassion and understanding. You are a good friend.
Dancer, singer, artist, storyteller, basketball player, trampoline tumbler, cuddler of cats and playmate of dog.
Happy 10th birthday my gorgeous girl.