Um….well this is surprising….you’re….EIGHT?!?! This can’t possibly be right. Also, I just went and checked last year’s birthday letter, only to discover that I haven’t written one since you turned 5. Clearly, the years are screaming by and I’m not keeping up. This is the first year I made you a video though and I clearly need to go back and do one for the first 7 years I missed. Maybe I’ll have that project completed by the time you start college.
Reflecting on where we were the same time last year, I can see that you’ve grown and matured by leaps and bounds this year. A year ago, you were JUST wrapping up your first semester at public school in first grade (thanks to covid). You made friends at Longfellow, but you were still pretty tentative at drop offs, preferring that we wait with you all the way until the bell rang and you walked inside the building with your class. You seemed so small and so big at the same time. Now, a year later, with a whole new set of friends and a whole new school, you bound out of the car in the traffic circle, throw a wave and race off to start your day–nothing but Big Kid confidence. You were even embarrassed to be seen walking with me into school on Mardi Gras morning when I was wearing a tutu and blasting music! (Mission accomplished, my work here is done.)
You are becoming your own person more and more by the day. You’re a person who is eager to make other people feel happy, mostly unflappable, easy to get along with, and extremely affable. I find myself in a delicate balancing act sometimes when encouraging you to speak up about your own opinions, which you surely have, and to stick up for yourself when others are less than kind. I know with practice you’ll find your footing eventually though, and I’ll try not to bite my knuckles too much as I attempt to step back and let you do it on your own.
Speaking of strong opinions, you actually do have many. I’m not going to lie–it’s hard not to use my influence to try to convince you of an alternate opinion that I might find preferable sometimes. For example, you want to grow your hair out as long as possible and have completely resisted my year-long campaign for you to cut it short again. (Good girl, stand your ground!) You love really long fingernails (whhhhhhhhhy?!). You’ve declared you would never get a real tattoo (I’ll be referencing this a couple years from now when you change your mind). You want pierced ears (so far, I’ve said no). And while on the surface these all might seem like superficial things to have opinions about, to me they represent a much deeper reckoning of you discovering for yourself who you are and what you’re about.
Things about you in the last year that I find quite miraculous:
You walk around with your head in the clouds. It cracks me up. You giggle inwardly whenever I do a small whistle and say, “Earth to Alice.”
You LOVE to read. You cannot read enough. It is like water in a desert for you. There will never be enough books. I have to tell you to stop walking around with your nose in a book because you literally walk into walls.
You love music–singing, piano, dance–and you’ve taken the initiative to learn without me even helping you. I downloaded that piano app figuring you would lose interest within a couple weeks, and here you are somehow reading sheet music already! Completely on your own!
You love to cook and have started doing things in the kitchen independently. This by itself is worth mentioning. For nearly 8 years you’ve been a small kid that required constant supervision and guidance, especially in places like the kitchen where sharp objects and hot surfaces abound. And suddenly here you are, chopping and baking like a pro, with me only sitting nearby to satisfy my own need to make sure you don’t cut off a finger or burn yourself. Not only that, you’ve taken over the role of guiding your sister in the kitchen, making sure she doesn’t cut off fingers!
You’ve expressed a strong desire to run errands to the Co-op on your own, and frankly, you’re totally ready for it….but I’m not. The fact that you’d have to cross not one, but TWO busy streets just freaks me out. I remember even just a year ago thinking I could never get to a place where I’d think it was okay for you to be walking around on your own, but here we are already. Maybe by the time you’re 16 I’ll be on board with that.
Beyond all of that, I find it miraculous that you’re my kid. You are a profoundly kind, deeply empathetic, vibrantly joyous ray of sunshine.
Happy 8th, Sugar Bean. You’re my favorite Alice.
Alice quotes from the last 3 years:
To Andy: go to work and get some money! 8/10/20
While trying to figure out how Danielle and Emma could visit during covid: she can just stay 6 feet away and then sleep in her car. 8/10/20
Trying to get Alice to go to sleep:
Andy: count to 100
Alice, about 12 minutes later: Dada, I counted to 100.
One time, before the sickness, WAAAAAAAY back when I was 4....
When can we get a disco ball? 10/17/20 (side note, this seems like a legit question still)
Alice, holding up a stuffed alligator: this is Ruth Gator Ginsburg.
Me: I didn't know she was a gator!
Alice, looking at me like I'm too stupid: mama, the real person is Ruth BATOR Ginsburg. 10/16/20
Me: Alice, I'm sorry, mama has a really hard time when Alafair screams that much, it makes me really sad.
Alice (whispering): mama, when was Earth a baby? 11/8/20
Alice still says "WHOO-tell" instead of "hotel" December 2020
Oh my God, the world out there just looks so beautiful. 2/11/21
Alice and her snark at the tap teacher: she must be teaching new kids today because I already know all this stuff. 3/1/21
Alice: "why does mama ever sit down? She still has stuff to do." 3/19/21
Jealous means you're sad and you feel left out. Are you jealous? I know, that new baby gets all the attention. -talking to herself, 3/21/21
Mama, I think I need to think of an alternate job. I want to be an astronaut but just in case I don't want to go to outer space, I should work at the landfill." 4/9/21
5/5/21 After applying makeup for dance recital (eye shadow, blush, luminizer, mascara), Alice looks in the mirror and gasps, "look how beautiful I am Mama, I look just like you!!!!"
7/2/21 there's a flat section on a bubble package of pills. "Mama, what do you think is in this flat section?"
"Um...I don't know"
"OOOOOO! I bet there's MAGIC in there!!!!”
It's so peaceful back here. The wind in the trees, the church bells, the cars driving by....
Alice, sitting in the back yard 7/4/21
I've just got to remark one more time, Kelsey's drawing is just amazing. 4/17/22
(Dismissively)I don't really like that book--it's just full of synonyms. 5/7/22
Ooo! Being out this late is a little bit exciting and a little bit frightening! 7/4/22 11pm fireworks
Today we might see some moose, some bison, and grandma! 7/26/22 (surmising what we might see on our drive through Jackson)