(To be read on her 18th birthday)
Today is your fourth birthday. All signs of you having once been a baby – bald, babbling, chubby and small enough to nestle comfortably on my thigh – have completely vanished. You are now a long, lean, intelligent, assertive and beautiful … person. Your love for nursery rhymes and picture books is being replaced by pop music and feature films. Already, many of the mental images of your early months and years are fading, for you and for me. By the time you read this, although photos may remain, you will almost certainly have lost any personal recollections of your first daycare teachers, your nursery, your red tricycle and much more.
Of course, growing older will surely bring you many new cherished memories – your first day of school, your first time behind the wheel of a car … your first kiss. As a teenager, you may not yet appreciate the nostalgia of youth as much as your old man, and it’s certainly healthier to look toward the future than live in the past. Nevertheless, in the days, months and years ahead, as you gain new independence and insight into the world around you, I have one simple request:
Remember what life was like today, okay?
Remember what makes four-year-old you happy. And sad. And mad. Remember the wonders of the world that seem amazing today but, in adulthood, will seem commonplace and ordinary.
This may be challenging to do in 14 years, so I’ve tried to help by compiling a list of some of the things that make you tick right now. As you get older, time will move by faster and faster, with new stresses and challenges presenting themselves every day. I hope this will help to slow things down – to simplify life – if only for a few minutes.
Four-year-old you believes:
- Drinking water is best served piping hot.
- A ride up and down a department store escalator is more entertaining than any roller coaster.
- A bike seat is a perfect place to take a nap.
- It’s not museum-worthy art unless it includes glitter paint.
- A plain cheeseburger contains no cheese.
- The gloomiest mood can be cured by two minutes of petting a Jack Russell Terrier.
- There's never a wrong time to wear a tiara.
- Gnats are terrifying. Locusts? Awesome, and worthy of up-close inspection.
- Syrup is a useless and unnecessary condiment.
- A twirl is always required immediately after putting on a dress.
- A common crow is as awe-inspiring a creation as the most majestic eagle.
- Clean pavement and chalk are all anyone really needs to occupy a warm, sunny afternoon.
- "Polka-dot" bananas taste best.
- Bedtime always includes a hug, a kiss and a high five.
- All music is dance music
Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!
Always be you. Happy Birthday, Jitterbug.