"Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!" --Ms. Frizzle

"Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!" --Ms. Frizzle

Friday, June 22, 2012

My Dear Daughter

Three years ago I gave birth to a daughter, my first ever very own child. I had the surreal experience, on that Tuesday morning, of seeing a face I had never laid eyes on before and knowing it instantly and intimately. From the funny little crease over her nose to the shape of her bottom lip, I recognized her as easily as I recognized my own reflection. She was my girl, more precious to me than thought or heartbeat or breath, and this letter is for her.

Geneva, you have been a self-described "big girl" ever since you could hold up three fingers by pinching your pinkie under your thumb. Sometimes I forget just how young, just how new you still are, because of the challenges you constantly seek for yourself. You are three years old and you put on your own clothes, make your own sandwiches, buckle yourself into your carseat (sometimes), wash your own spills and even post your own mail. I love this about you... but it is not why I love you.

Your flair for self-expression is a source of constant joy and amusement to me-- and I hope it is for you, too. I delight in your complicated stories about the mice you rescue from oncoming trains or the wolves who decide to give up being big and bad. You employ such words and phrases as "parasaurolophus," "conveyor belt," and "moderate your voice." Once you informed me that your doll was real, and that she was made of bones and magic. If you don't know the word for something, it's no trouble for you to simply describe it or give an analogue. I clearly remember that when you didn't have a word for tupperware, you referred to it as "like a tank, or a jam pot." You soak up language wherever you find it, and then transform it into something beautiful and inimitable as you tell us your thoughts on life, the world, and everything. I love this about you... but it is not why I love you.

Although you are certainly an extroverted, outgoing child whom I remind every day-- or possibly every minute-- to slow down and be gentle, you are truly a kind and compassionate person. Beyond your good habits of saying "please" and "thank you," you express unprompted, genuine gratitude for things like interesting books, fresh food and sunny days. It is a rare day indeed that you do not tell me, in a matter-of-fact voice that makes it all the sweeter, "I love you, Mom." And as a big sister I have gotten to see you truly shine. You cheer for Lavender when she tries a new food and often give her tastes of whatever you're having-- even if I announce that she's had enough already. You sound the alarm whenever your little sister gets anywhere near the open front door or a set of stairs. It makes me catch my breath each time I see you hugging, kissing, patting and caressing her, and hear your little voice murmuring "Lavender. Lavender. Lavender." I love this about you... but it is not why I love you. 

You are smart. You are frighteningly smart. You know that bubbles rise in water because they are made of air, that sharks hunt using their sense of smell, that the Earth is part of a solar system of planets, that mixing blue and yellow makes green, and that m-a-p-s spells maps. I think your intelligence shows even more, however, in the things you do not yet know. You want to know why the bad guys in your stories make such poor choices. If I tell you that the metal silver is used in telephones, you want to know what else it is used in. I've all but given up on sugarcoating things for your benefit; you see through the euphemism and circumlocution, then tell me what I should have said: "Oh, so it didn't die because it was old. Someone killed it. That's what happened, Mom." So far in your life, there is nothing so frightening or uncomfortable that you'd rather remain ignorant on the subject. Your curiosity is so natural, and your mind so quick, that I stand in awe of you. You will be much, much smarter than I am by the time you are in your teens and I regard this knowledge with a mixture of terror and pride. I love this about you... but it is not why I love you.

I love you because you are my daughter. 

From the moment you were born and I held you in my arms-- you screaming and pooping, me weeping and grinning-- I have adored you beyond condition. There is not anything that could keep me from loving you, because I cherish you without reason or ration. You are exactly who you are meant to be, and you are mine. And every day since your birth I have found new things to love about you, the girl I have always loved just because.