This afternoon your dad asked me if I would pick up the balloons that we’ll sneak into your room tonight while you sleep. He reminded me to add in a special balloon to the mix – some over the top, shiny character balloon that will send you squealing down the stairs tomorrow morning. His message to me said “If it makes you sort of cringe, then it’s probably the perfect choice,” which made me laugh out loud when I read it. That’s because he knows me well (slightly princess,-, character-, commercialized-Disney-averse), and he knows you so well (delighter in all of the above).
So I walked into the floral department at a nearby grocery store, bypassed the regular round mylar balloons on display, and selected a 31″ high, double-sided, pink crown and ribbon encrusted Frozen themed balloon featuring Elsa on one side and Anna on the other. I picked out five (of course) latex balloons to go with it in all your favorite colors from reds to pinks to purples. The woman helping me bagged them up and handed them to me, telling me that someone special was about to have a really sweet surprise. I agreed, and tightened my grip on the enormous bag of helium.
I write you these letters at every big milestone, and I’m never at a loss for metaphors to wrap the words around. But occasionally they land there in my lap in such a way that I’m forced to really think about you, my relationship with you, the way you fit into this family and the world around you. I say black/you say white, I say shorts/you demand dresses, I say five more minutes/you respond back with fifteen and plug your ears to any further negotiations. Some days these arguments stack up so high that it’s easy to forget how many things we agreed upon, how the day still ends with you and a good story, how you make silly faces out the school window and pantomime the words “I love you” in exaggerated hand motions and dimpled smiles. You say princesses!/I say please, no! and yet I’m holding onto curly pink balloon ribbons and it’s the best part of my whole day. Your dad has seen them, your sister too – we’ve all laughed and smiled together because we know you, we love you, we get you.
You sent off ‘four’ today with confidence, announcing to everyone you met the significance of this transition. I’m still laughing, six months later, at the way you responded to your Nana when she asked you how old you were – were you now four-and-a-half? You responded with your own take on that milestone that was anything but a declaration of an accomplishment to rest upon for a bit. I’m halfway to five! you announced in a manner that said you don’t slow down or take the night off. You approach everything you do with confidence, often mistaken (or not) as stubbornness and impatience. You are a girl on a mission, and I have to remind myself (frequently) that this is a good, good thing. A mission gives a person focus and clarity and tenacity – and the confidence to stand up for the right thing, and in time, for others who are unable to do that on their own.
I think five is going to suit you perfectly. You’ve got a big year ahead of you, and I know you’ll sparkle.